The relationship between Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash) might be the centerpiece of FXX’s critically acclaimed romantic comedy You’re the Worst, but most fans of the series will agree that Kether Donohue steals the show as Gretchen’s best friend Lindsay.
After her behavior in Season 1 resulted in the dissolution of her marriage to Paul (Allan McLeod), Lindsay is having a rough time trying to put her life back together. Yesterday, on a conference call with fellow journalists, we spoke to Kether Donohue about Lindsay’s journey of self-discovery, and hopefully redemption.
What do you think sets You’re the Worst apart from other romantic comedy sitcoms?
Kether Donohue: I think it’s a really fresh take on romantic comedies. Typically, you can predict what’s going to happen, and the characters are kind of cookie-cutter, kind of “surface.” But in You’re the Worst,everyone is a complex, multi-faceted human being, and we’re not afraid to show darker sides of life, and what goes into sustaining a romantic relationship. A relationship is a lot of hard work, and we don’t really see that in the genre.
I think most of us probably have a friend like Lindsay, who’s just sort of a hot mess and trying to figure things out. But the show treats her with such care and such compassion, and in many ways she’s the heart of the show. When you first came onboard, did you see her in that light?
Kether Donohue: Absolutely! Rule number one in acting is to never judge your character. My audition scene for the pilot was the scene where Lindsay tells Gretchen that she blew four guys at her high school reunion, so when I saw that, I was like “okay, don’t judge this character.” Every human being has reasons for doing what they do and saying what they say, and the joy of playing Lindsay is that on paper, she does the most awful things.
As we just saw in Episode 4, she stuck a turkey baster in her vagina to artificially inseminate herself with her ex-husband’s sperm. That’s pretty bad. But as an actor, you can’t approach playing a character like that by judging them. I think the worse things someone does, the more compassion you need to have for that character.
Speaking of compassion, you recently posted on Instagram about young women that struggle with body image, and that seems to be a topic you’re very passionate about.
Kether Donohue: When I was a student at Fordham University, my major was Communications and Media Studies, and one of the most powerful things I took out of that experience was learning that you can either put things out in the media that reinforce dominant ideologies, or you can put out content in media that challenges those ideologies. Growing up, I was surrounded by girls with eating disorders, and I know people who have been sexually abused, and I know all of these issues go hand-in-hand with the images of women that are presented to us in media.
And I think it’s crucial and necessary to show women on television who are not a size zero. And that’s not to put down women who are naturally thin,but what I’m trying to say is that it’s necessary to have a more diverse palate of women’s bodies in television. And I’m very passionate about that.
I get the sense that Lindsay isn’t really trying to find love at this point in her life, but more that she’s scared of being alone.
Kether Donohue: You’re right about that, I think right now her motivation is more driven by “oh shit, I’m alone! This has never happened before and nothing is going my way.” When you’re in a position like that in your life, you’ll go to any lengths to get your life back to the way it was – hence why she shoves a turkey baster up her vagina.
I think when something happens that’s chaotic, you try to do whatever you can to tie things up in a little bow and get them back to normal – and as we saw in the last episode, that’s really not happening for her. She’s not able to get thing the way she wants. But in the next few episodes to come, Lindsay’s journey of learning how to be by herself is explored in detail, and there are hilarious moments. And also really sad moments, because it’s sad that there are times she can’t do things for herself that a five-year-old could do.
Lindsay doesn’t seem to hold any resentment toward Paul’s new girlfriend, which is an interesting choice, given how desperately she’s trying to get Paul back. What are your thoughts on Lindsay’s motivation?
Kether Donohue: That’s actually a really good example of what makes You’re the Worst so fresh. In a lot of generic romantic comedies, if someone’s boyfriend is with another girl, then the ex-girlfriend is mad at the new girlfriend. And what’s cool is that because Stephen Falk is a feminist and he’s so open-minded, he chose to not make Lindsay and Amy enemies. I think that’s the first time you see the compassion coming from Lindsay – even though she does awful things, it’s kind of nice that Lindsay is self-aware.
She’s learning that you reap what you sow, she’s learning that she’s created this spiderweb for herself because of her behavior, and she doesn’t have anyone to blame but herself for Paul leaving her, because she wasn’t the best wife. I think the reality is setting in for her that Paul is choosing to be with a woman that treats him right and is actually a good person, and I think Lindsay admires Amy in a way, and I think that’s not something you see very often in storytelling.
You’re the Worst is such a smart, relevant show, and I’m curious if working on the show has altered your perception or changed your outlook on life in any way?
Kether Donohue: Oh, absolutely. Honestly, I think that’s what gave me the courage to put up that Instagram post. Ever since I met Stephen Falk and I’ve been a part of this show, I’ve been inspired to take risks and make bold choices, and put art in the world that isn’t based on pleasing anybody, but stuff that’s pleasing to me. Stephen is such a brave storyteller, and I can’t give anything away, but later on in the season you’ll see that he and the other writers do something very bold that’s never been done before in a sitcom. And I think that saying, “with great risk comes great reward,” is what I’ve taken away from working on the show.
Will Lindsay be doing any more singing for us this season?
Kether Donohue: Yes, I’m very excited! Lindsay will be singing twice – there will be some rap music, and there will be some nicer music along the lines of This Woman’s Work [from the Season 1 finale]. I can’t really say what context either of those songs will be in, but both musical adventures of Lindsay are awesome.
You’re the Worst airs Wednesday nights at 10:30pm, exclusively on FXX.