A Look at You’re the Worst- Season 1, Episode 8: “Finish Your Milk”

Something else I’m guessing couples aren’t ready for at first: meeting the parents.  This is the main plot of the eighth episode: “Finish Your Milk.”

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen has Jimmy cover for her

Gretchen is set to fly out and spend time with her parents- and get out of going the gym at the same time- but doesn’t want Jimmy to take her to the airport.  He insists and only intends to drive her there without any sort of awkward confrontation between the parents.  Fair enough.

Finish Your Milk- Shit Stain and Honey Nutz deduce that Gretchen is trying to hide Jimmy

When all is said and done, Jimmy intends to spend the day at the cinema, where he runs into Honey Nutz and Shit Stain.  It’s worth noting that the only reason Jimmy is at a Black cinema is because he can yell out character insistencies and other issues.  Such things can’t be done at a White theatre.  However, Honey Nutz and Shit Stain find it odd that Gretchen is out of town, given that they’re supposed to meet with her later.

One phone call later, they learn that Gretchen is still in town and at an art gallery with her parents, which begs the question of why she would lie to Jimmy.  The two rappers realize quicker than Jimmy that Gretchen is trying to hide him from her parents, similar to Richie and Margot in the Royal Tenebaums.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy joins Gretchen at the art gallery

So Jimmy heads to the art gallery, much to Gretchen’s surprise.  Jimmy doesn’t buy her elaborate excuse of how her parents showed up when she was supposed to be visiting them.  Even typing that out, her excuse sounds stupid.  Jimmy refuses to leave until Gretchen produces her parents.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy meets Gretchen's 'parents'

So she does.  Though Jimmy hasn’t met the parents before, the conversation doesn’t last too long.  Gretchen’s father is having a surgery, anyway, so they have to get going.  Jimmy seems to buy it, but when Gretchen leaves, he starts piecing a few things together: Gretchen mentioned a Dr. Pablo, and they’re in an art gallery, her father is having back surgery, which leads Jimmy to notice a woman with a back brace, and the procedure is experimental, as it reads on an art brochure.  Jimmy returns to the couple and learns that they are not, in fact, Gretchen’s parents.

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen's parents

After a bit of snooping, and the return of that moustache, Jimmy soon meets Gretchen’s real parents, Fred, played by Stephen Mendel, and Vanessa, played by Rebecca Tilney.  Gretchen’s parents are the definition of upper echelon: they’re snooty, play tennis for sport, and criticize their daughter’s tennis prowess.  They don’t think little of her, but Gretchen looks like she wants to make them happy, so she creates another elaborate tale- this one about Jimmy.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy meets Gretchen's real parents

Apparently, Jimmy and Gretchen met at a fundraiser.  He’s from the fancy part of London and one of his novels is being turned into a movie starring Zach Braff.  Gretchen is doing all of the talking for Jimmy, who intends to leave, but can’t take this charade.  He fesses up: he’s not from the fancy part of London- he’s from Manchester.  He may not always agree with Gretchen, but he doesn’t like the way her mother bullies her.  Gretchen isn’t some fancy philanthropist- she lives off 7-11 hot dogs.  That’s a bit too much, Jimmy, but whatever you think works.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy and Gretchen argue about truths and lies in relationships

Gretchen isn’t pleased by this act, though, but Jimmy doesn’t back down.  He thinks that people should prefer having a fractured, combative relationship based on truth as opposed to an unpleasant, artificial one based on lies.  Jimmy values honesty, and I really can’t disagree with that.  Gretchen, though, doesn’t call it honesty.  She says that it’s bullying and that Jimmy himself is a mean person.  But, as Jimmy retorts, at least he is a person.

Damn.  Again, I’ve never been in one of these situations, but it’s immediately clear to Jimmy that he didn’t just insult Gretchen right there- he hurt her.

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen finds an engagement ring

Now hurt, Gretchen goes off and heads to Jimmy’s room.  She wants to blow her nose and dry her eyes, but there’s no tissue in the box by his bed.  Go figure.  Anyway, she goes through his shirt drawer and finds not just a shirt to wipe her face with- why do people do this?- but an engagement ring as well.

Realizing her future based on Jimmy’s upcoming move, Gretchen decides to end things between them right there and then.  She said from the start that she hates relationships, but now she’s in one.  This is her last chance to hop off this speeding train.

Now, we could call this the breakup episode, but there are still two episodes left in the season.

“Finish Your Milk” tackled what I’m guessing is one of the more awkward moments of a relationship: meeting the parents.  This has the potential to be rewarding if the parents like the significant other, or it can be an interrogation sequence as you’re grilled on your intentions with the parents’ sweet, innocent child.  Of course, innocence is subjective, but I’ll assume that people in relationships don’t want to disappoint their parents with the choice they made.

That’s a large assumption and in no way universal, but some of us may just throw caution to the wind and commit to the person that we like, regardless of everyone’s opinion.

Not Gretchen, though.  Of the two relationships Jimmy describes, Gretchen’s is the latter: artificial and based on lies.  She’s focused on making her parents happy, even if that means lying to them.  They exist in two different worlds: the parents are very posh and come off as very wealthy and well-read, but Gretchen is more laid back and down-to-earth.

Finish Your Milk- Fred tells Gretchen to finish her milk

Granted, we don’t get to know much about Gretchen’s parents and I don’t think they’re as demanding or bullying as Jimmy makes them out to be, but I get the impression that Gretchen is the kind of child who may have let her parents down with her life choices.  She’s now paralyzed with the fear of letting them down yet again.  As such, she first tries to hide Jimmy from them altogether, but when he finds them himself, she tries to make him seem better than he is.  This kind of deceit can and does only get worse as Gretchen digs herself deeper.

She has a point that Jimmy shouldn’t be telling her how to have a relationship with her parents, but it’s still her decision.  It’s not the best decision, in my opinion, but it’s still hers and she’s allowed to have that.  Gretchen wants to maintain this wholesome image that she’s a good daughter, but she keeps disappointing her parents, even when she tries her best.  Should she ignore their opinion altogether and just bring Jimmy out into the open?  Sounds like that would make more sense, but she fears letting them down again.  Instead of taking that risk, she tries to keep Jimmy separate from her family life altogether.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy speaks in defense of Gretchen

Jimmy, however, doesn’t care about that and prefers to just be honest, even if means making someone angry.  After all, that’s who he is.  When he tells Gretchen’s parents that they don’t know the real her, who is brave and spontaneous, Gretchen sees firsthand that Jimmy really does care for her, even if he has a weird way of showing it- it’s devotion, but odd devotion to a person who he knows is as toxic as he is.  He wants them to see Gretchen for who she really is because she’s unhappy with this facade, and so is he.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy realizes that Gretchen lied about her parents

And he’s at least smart enough to pick up on Gretchen’s crap, such as when he puts the context clues at the art gallery together and realizes that Gretchen tried to play him for a fool.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy sees Gretchen with her real parents

When he finally spots her playing tennis with her parents, his facial expression says it all.  Gretchen saying ‘Mommy?’  Playing tennis and getting upset when her mother criticizes her backhand?  This isn’t the cynical, brash Gretchen that he knows.  Something about this doesn’t fit.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy tells Gretchen that at least he is a person

Is honesty really the best policy?  As much of an outright prick as he is, I have to side with Jimmy here.  I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a perfect relationship, but I do think that basing it on lies and deception only hurts the people involved.  Better to have a more combative relationship based on honesty because at least everything is out in the open.  There’s no need to hide behind deceit.

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen calls Jimmy a mean person

Gretchen disagrees with this, and that’s what, I think, made the argument feel so raw and real.  We know that these two are cynical, but Jimmy is the more outspoken of the two.  Gretchen is at least trying to be a grown-up about some things, but even that’s not saying much.  Her behavior around her parents is artificial, which is what prompts Jimmy to deliver the stinging comment of saying that Gretchen isn’t a person.  His quick reaction to his own words shows that even he believes he may have gone too far.

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen ends the relationship

I liked the use of the split-screen during their confrontation.  When it was first used in the pilot, the two actually weren’t in the same space.  Now, however, they’re both at Jimmy’s place, but the split-screen just shows how the two couldn’t be further apart than at this moment.  It’s a confrontation that I think the show has been building to, as Jimmy is quicker to take a person down a peg than Gretchen.  She’s right to call him mean, but I would say she’s wrong for lying to herself.  I don’t find a clear answer here, but it’s another reason why I enjoy You’re the Worst and how it deconstructs relationships by slowly putting two toxic people together.

Finish Your Milk- Paul and Lindsay

But they’re not the only ones having problems in this episode.  Lindsay has her own share of issues.  Becca confides in her that Jimmy tried to kiss her, which Lindsay flips out about, for some reason.  Becca isn’t happy in her marriage, either, which she realizes is a commitment she continues to struggle with, 24/7.

Finish Your Milk- Becca and Lindsay talk about cheating

Lindsay struggles with whether to tell Paul about her infidelity.  Unlike Becca, Lindsay doesn’t show any restraint when it comes to being with fooling around with someone outside of her marriage.  As such, like Gretchen, she can’t bring herself to be honest with herself, so she finds herself spending the day with Paul and even rides with him on his tandem.

Finish Your Milk- Lindsay gets a nose bleed while hanging out with Paul

By the way, sitting in a semi-reclined position on a tandem provides a better distribution of body weight and better blood flow to the anus and testicles.  Paul’s words, not mine, but words of wisdom to live by nonetheless.  It’s also worth noting that four Presidents were home brewers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Barack Obama.  Who knew?  These are the kind of things Paul must think about even when he’s not with Lindsay.

Finish Your Milk- Lindsay enjoys spending time with Paul

Interesting enough, Lindsay actually finds that she enjoyed spending time with Paul, even if she didn’t admit to cheating on him.  If Lindsay weren’t so repulsed by Paul or the type of woman who enjoys watching television shows with adultery- apparently that’s all she watches- she could probably have a healthy relationship with Paul.  As is, she’s just the adulteress that likes sitting on people’s faces.

Finish Your Milk- Edgar at the V.A.

Again, Edgar is a complex character with some deep, psychological issues that do deserve attention, but he doesn’t get it from either Jimmy or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  He’s reduced to recycling in order to get money for Ambien and doesn’t want to go to the V.A. because he believes there are veterans out there with real problems.  I’m sure that waking up with a knife is a problem, but okay.  Edgar’s decision.

Finish Your Milk- Edgar at the Veterans Affairs office

The scenes at the office where Edgar tries to make his case are indicative of how we don’t give veterans that much attention or focus after all they’ve done.  The office is filled with unopened boxes and veterans line up like they’re waiting to take their examination at the DMV.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy tells Edgar to head back to the V.A.

What’s worse is that Edgar just ends up getting turned around and around.  After the first visit, he goes to Jimmy, thinking that he’s taking advantage of him…

Finish Your Milk- Vet turns in his hook

…but he ends up back at the V.A. and ends up having another veteran turn in his hook.  Whoops.

Finish Your Milk- Edgar helps Jimmy cook

In the end, though, Edgar is still a good friend to Jimmy and is there to console him after the break-up.  He even helps him cook after being so surprised that Jimmy would even try in the first place.  It’s a warm moment to end on as the two have both had terrible days, but can still be there for each other at the moment.  “Finish Your Milk” brought Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship to a screeching halt as the two grappled with what’s the better policy: honesty or deception.

Jimmy prefers everything out in the open, but Gretchen wants to hold back when necessary.  The friction between them leads to their break-up, but there are still two more episodes in this season, so let’s keep moving.

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