Photo by Byron Cohen/FXX
For generations romantic comedies have idealized the relationships between men and women. This is not the case with the FXX series You’re the Worst. In a recent conference call interview, the show’s creator Stephen Falk, explained how his creation gives a tired genre a modern spin.
According to Falk, it all starts with the words on the page. “I tasked myself and the writers with digging deep and always making sure that we’re cognizant of how human beings really behave and feel,” he remarked.
After all, as the Executive Producer noted about romantic relationships, “While they are incredibly silly and messy and dumb, they’re also our primary relationship aside from our parental relationships. They’re deeply important to us. And to treat that importance with respect is maybe something that lifts us a little above the crowd.”
It’s not to say that Falk is dismissive of all the films and TV shows that have come before. He is, after all, a self-proclaimed student of film. “And when I say student that sounds really high falutin, I just mean I was stuck in front of the TV as a kid a lot,” laughed Falk.
But this life-long absorption of what came before has certainly informed Falks’ work. It gives him what he describes as “an inherent sense of what is fresh and what is cliché, having my DNA really infused with television and film structure.”
Because of this, Falk acknowledged, “I know what not to do, hopefully, most of the time or at least some of the time, in making a romantic comedy feel fresh because I’ve seen all of the clichés 100 times.”
As part of this departure from the overdone, Falk has created characters that aren’t necessarily all that likeable. They certainly aren’t the typical girls-next-door that thrived in the Meg Ryan vehicles of the ‘90s. Yet they have an appeal that might seem inexplicable.
In describing how he makes unlikeable characters appealing, Falk said, “You’ve got to be very aware of the tightrope you’re on while at the same time being free to let the characters say whatever they want without fear of censoring yourself.”
He continued, “We’re hopefully beginning to exit a long, dark period of time where characters, according to the executives who pay for the shows, have to be quote-unquote likable, which I think is a complete fallacy and a misunderstanding of not only comedy but of human behavior and the reality of humanity. Hopefully, American television is entering a period where we allow our characters to be actually flawed and not just TV flawed because we all are.”
That comes with certain potential pitfalls, according to Falk, “The danger in all of that is you’re trying to write a character that quote-unquote feels edgy… That’s hopefully not at all what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to create characters, who are flawed, and certainly they’re more flawed than a lot, but they’re trying to represent the dark parts in all of us but still yearn for love and connection.”
As a result, the players in You’re the Worst seem a bit more like people you’d know — especially if you happen to spend time in trendy neighborhoods in cosmopolitan areas. Falk himself has lived in those types of places so it’s not surprising that he’s nailed the stereotypical hipster character so perfectly.
Falk noted, “It’s really just having lived for years in the Village in New York and I grew up in Berkeley which has a lot, a lot of hipsters. It’s just being steeped in it and like anything I write in this show, I’m guilty of most of the things that my characters rail against… I live in Los Feliz. I’m about to have my first kid. I have a dog that I take everywhere. I drive a Vespa. I’m disgusted with myself but it allows me to [hit] a target that also hurts when I do.”
Still he conceded, “The fallacy of hipsterdom as being a thing is that no one will admit to being one. Usually the people using the terms are or could be considered [a hipster]. It’s usually the guy with the handlebar mustache, riding a unicycle, pickling things at home, who is like ‘Ah, look at this dude.’”
Hipsters and non-hipsters alike are sure to enjoy Falk’s comedy. Tune in to the You’re the Worst Season 2 premiere on FXX tonight at 10:30 PM EST/PST.