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Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

You’re the Worst – Pilot

By October 11, 2016April 5th, 2020No Comments


The pilot is perhaps the most important episode for a series. A successful pilot not only needs to establish the tone and the characters, but first and foremost, it needs to give the audience a reason to watch episode two. For serialized shows, that reason typically centers around the plots and relationships the pilot episode has established.

Although upon first inspection You’re the Worst might appear to be a Bad Santa or Bad Teacher knock-off in which characters who are all id say whatever snarky, cynical ideas that pop into their heads, creator Stephen Falk does a masterful painting Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash) as damaged, self-destructive people bitter at the world. Neither is where they want to be in life: Jimmy is a failed author while Gretchen is a PR executive with an immature client. The pilot follows Jimmy and Gretchen as they struggle in their personal lives and as their relationship slowly kicks off despite being commitment-phobes. The series focuses on this relationship, and the pilot does a great job at laying the groundwork.

However, where the first episode truly shines is in the smaller details. Unlike lesser entries in the comedic antihero genre, You’re the Worst’s dialogue is grounded in humanity. For example, Jimmy’s line “How would meeting your dead relative — which is impossible because the soul doesn’t exist — help you move out of my house?” is equal parts cutting, cynical, and informative in regards to his character and his emotional state of mind. As the series progresses, it also delves into larger issues, such as Gretchen’s clinical depression, which becomes a vital part of her character and which the pilot subtly hints at throughout.

Despite being ostensibly a comedy, You’re the Worst is perhaps one of the greatest character studies on television today and a must-watch for writers who wish to write real, flawed, human characters.