Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
FXX’s little series that could, YOU’RE THE WORST, wormed its way into the hearts of critics and audiences with its first season. Last year, we saw Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash) meet at a mutual friend’s wedding and share what was intended to be a feelings-free, one-night stand. What followed was an odd love story that tried desperately to be anything but.
After its 10-episode run, YOU’RE THE WORST closed the book on a devilishly terrific first chapter. Tonight, the show’s second chapter continues its even better, darker and humorous streak.
Fresh Fiction had the opportunity to speak with Desmin Borges, who plays Jimmy’s roommate, Edgar, on the show. We talked about the first season compared to the second, last week’s episode, Edgar’s change in direction, and what’s going down tonight.
Last week’s episode is probably the strongest episode of the series to me for many reasons. It covers the struggles of divorce, secrecy in relationships, and also gives us insight into what it’s like to be a woman and man in comedy. Did that episode alter your perceptions of all those different elements at all after reading and shooting it?
Desmin Borges: “You know, I don’t know if it altered my perception. Because I come from a very heavy theatre background, I’m very aware of the lack of women’s voices within all the mediums as directors, writers, actors, and improvisers– all the way down the line. I know that I’ve been lucky enough throughout my training in Chicago. Even when I’ve worked in Minneapolis, New York and in California, I’ve been surrounded by some of the most talented females that I could ever ask for.
It starts right there with [Cash], Kether [Donohue], and Wendey [Stanzler] who directed that episode. With the likes of Jenji Kohan and Shonda Rhimes and doing what they’re doing, I think we’re really starting to open up to platforms that give everybody a fair place and it’s not for lack of talent– it’s for lack of the people who are putting them in those places for having the foresight of how brilliant they could actually be. Did that answer your question?”
Yes, yes. Absolutely.
Borges: “I feel like I went off onto a blog topic that I should be writing about.”
[Laughs] No, not at all. One of my favorite aspects of last week’s episode was how forward Edgar was in asking Dorothy (Collette Wolfe) out. Is that the secret to asking people out nowadays? It’s really hard to judge that today, especially with social media because it can be a little creepy.
Borges: “Right, yes. I’ve been saying my whole life that truth is the key, right? I mean honesty is the key, you know, no one really likes to hear it. Sometimes the truth is very hard to hear and say, but everyone respects each other in the end for it.
For Edgar, specifically, for someone whose still trying to navigate what it’s like to be a human who isn’t told what to wear and what time to wake up and what exactly to eat all the time– this his first major step into actually evolving into someone who might be able to define his own path, or at least start walking in the way where he can start making his own decisions and break down those walls of just being meek and forgettable. At the heart of it, he’s anything but that and I think, too, that he has a whole lot to offer someone with all of his love and his cooking [Laughs].”
I agree. I can say I’m very excited that Edgar has an actual person he can date and not somebody he’s just lusting after. What can you say about Dorothy and where that relationship is going to go?
Borges: “It’s like a breath of fresh air. There’s an actual, real person, you know? I guess Edgar is the most “real” person within the group. Dorothy is a real, actual human being and she’s going to infiltrate our group– so hopefully she’ll add some of that normalcy onto Edgar’s plate, because I know that’s what he’s striving for with his transition life into civilian hood here. Other than that, it’s just such a breath of fresh air for someone to be as down to earth and as corky and as kind of nervous as Edgar is about the whole situation. I mean, Dorothy is just kind of, you know, the exact same way. It feels very easy and at home and it’s with Collette [Wolfe], who’s a good friend of mine whom I worked with prior on Stephen Falk’s other show, NEXT CALLER. She was actually the lead on that show, so she and I have great chemistry together and I very much enjoyed getting to play around with her on-set.”
Do you think Edgar is the voice of reason in the group?
Borges: “Yes. I guess so. I like to call him the moral compass of the show. I feel like at any point we can turn the camera over to Edgar and really get away from the necessary like ‘worst captioning’ that is kind of going on. You know, it’s kind of like The Beatles from back in the day, right? John [Lennon] was the front runner, Paul [McCartney] was the pretty boy, George [Harrison] wrote all the best lyrics, and then Ringo [Starr] was just the lovable guy on the drums over there that everyone just kind of took for granted but, you know, Ringo kept the beat going and I think that’s what Edgar does. And I will say that that’s the first time I’ve ever compared myself to Ringo Starr, or us to The Beatles, and it will be the last because I now know just realized how ridiculous I sounded right then.”
[Laughs] No, I thought it was well put. Do you sometimes wish that Edgar could have some of the traits that make the others “the worst?”
Borges: “Oh, yes! All the time. I constantly beg [Falk] to let me break bad. I want Edgar to shoot heroine. I know that’s probably never going to happen and it’s not something I’m actually interested in doing in my personal life.
Before we started shooting the first season, a veteran came in and spoke to us in the writer’s room and he told us his entire story of the triumphs and the pitfalls of having PTSD, going through multiple tours in Iraq. One of the things he said to me is that during one of his darkest times he would go out and look for someone to beat the hurt out of him. Not that he was wanting to engage in any fight, but he wanted somebody to beat it out of him because he didn’t know how to get it out and that really affected me and stayed with me and still stays with me to this day and, at some point, I want all of us to explore what it would be like for Edgar to have the hurt beat out of him, which might cause him to be the worst– or he might be the worst in line before the hurt gets beat out of him. That’s definitely something I’d like to go through.”
I loved the first season, but I feel the quality of the show has only gone up since the second season premiered. What impresses you the most about the second season compared to the first?
Borges: “Well, I mean, there’s a lot of things, but the ease at which we were able to kind of transition into the second season– we picked up running full speed ahead where we left off with the final four episodes of the first season. That really, I feel like, pushed us over the edge and pulled us out in front, and then the issues that were tackled specifically within the Jimmy and Gretchen story-line. I think we are about to witness something that’s never been witnessed on television before, definitely not within a comedy or a romantic comedy or an anti-romantic comedy setting. I’m floored by the way Stephen and the writers can set up three or four official story lines that weave in and out together. It’s a credit to how brilliant they are in that room.”
Agreed. What’s perhaps the best advice you have been given as an actor and how has that influenced your work on this show?
Borges: “Oh, wow. You know I’ve never been asked that question before. That’s a really great question. Thank you. The best advice I’ve been given as an actor– You know, I guess the best advice I’ve ever been given is always say yes and that, oddly enough, comes from the world of improv, which Edgar finds himself in. I mean, it’s just very easy to say yes within the confines of that world that Stephen and the writers have created but, you know, sometimes you find yourself hesitating in certain areas because you don’t want to offend or portray anybody with PTSD or any sort of issue like that in a incorrect or negative light. That’s never what we’re trying to do, so I’m always saying yes to finding out information and taking it one step further so that we can give those vets who’ve never had their story told before an outlet through Edgar, which I find to be refreshing and scary all at the same time– it’s one of the reasons why I love to do it.”
Without diving into spoiler territory, what can you tell us about tonight’s episode?
Borges: “Edgar gets abducted by aliens and goes off into space so that’s gonna be– No [Laughs], I think we’re right in the heart of the season really exploding. I did interviews at the beginning of the season and I said that imagine the four of them are walking down the street and they come up to this rabbit hole and all of the sudden one of them falls in and the other three of them try desperately to grab the one who fell in out but, individually, they start to slip in one by one and they all start to fall deeper and darker and the show gets sexier and crazier and sadder and funnier and sexier and crazier. Like, this is it! Coming from this point on, we’re approaching the rabbit hole.
I think episode seven and eight, we all kind of fall into it and we go our separate ways and we intertwine together, but we are about to start getting into the heart of the season where Jimmy and Gretchen are in one thing, Edgar’s with Dorothy in one thing, and Lindsay is going through her one thing. I think we’re going to see a lot of similar structures that we saw in this past episode continue to move forward and to progress these characters forward, you know, until they are able to meet back up and hopefully be rescued out of this ridiculous, crazy, sexy, funny rabbit hole that they found themselves in.”
Episode 7 – “There Is Not Currently a Problem” of YOU’RE THE WORST airs tonight at 10:30 p.m. E/P. only of FXX.