Chris Geere on the Legacy of ‘You’re the Worst’
Since premiering in 2014, FX‘s comedy series You’re the Worst has earned acclaim for its subversion of traditional rom-com tropes and charismatic ensemble cast. British actor Chris Geere stars as Jimmy Shive-Overly, a callous and hilariously cynical writer who ends up in a relationship with the equally reckless Gretchen (played by Aya Cash). The series has chronicled the ups-and-downs and everything in between this unlikely pairing for 5 seasons and will finally come to a conclusion this Thursday. We called up Chris Geere to learn more about the series finale, what makes the rom-com formula successful, and his role in the upcoming Pokemon film.
EH: Talk to us about the finale of You’re the Worst, coming up in April. What’s been the most rewarding experience about being part of the show?
It’s quite simple, it’s actually just working with the other 3. That’s been so rewarding. Usually, when you’re in an ensemble like that, there are actors that you look forward to working with more than others, but that’s just not the case. I think that when we have scenes altogether, they’re the most rewarding because you get 4 very different energies and acting techniques and everything and I just think it’ll be hard to come by that again. I’m gonna miss that a lot.
EH: Is your chemistry something that was apparent from the start or did you all have to grow familiar with each other?
Weirdly, it felt like it on set. When season 1 came out, I could see how it came across on screen and I think as the season progressed it felt effortless, but we had to put in the work beforehand. The 4 of us are so dedicated and on it when it came to the dialogue and the script and being punctual and professional — we were all on the same page of wanting to make it the best that it could be. I think the chemistry came from that desire to make it different and make it exciting, not just to say your lines and go home. And I think it just got better and better as the show progressed.
EH: What attracted you to the project initially?
There was an interesting tone to it, unlike anything that I’d read before. It wasn’t only completely funny but there was this heart to the show that I hadn’t seen in a comedy before. It felt quite daring — I didn’t really know where to pitch the performance because one minute we’d be doing something quite broad and comedic and the next minute we’d be in tears or yelling at each other. I think that the split tone was unique. It’ll be quite hard to find something else that’s on par because it was very clever and it dealt with different things all at the same time.
EH: What do you think the show’s legacy will be?
I think it’s bringing attention to issues that I think everyone is going through at the moment. I think we live in a broken world and we’ve highlighted an awful lot of the things that feel broken. Also highlighting that no matter who you are, or how terrible life is, you’re still deserving of love. I think there’s a message quite strongly about mental health that I think people need to be aware of and feel comforted by — I think that’s the keyword. To be comforted by and know that you’re not alone. I remember people saying ‘Oh I behave just like Jimmy and Gretchen,’ and I was like “really? That’s terrible.” But now I read these comments and I’m really proud that we so candidly showed characters that other people can relate to so profoundly. That’s the most rewarding thing for us, and I think that will carry the show through many years to come. I think this is the type of show that could become a cult hit, which sounds silly cause I’m in it, but I really do! Now I’m getting press reviews today being like ‘I have JUST discovered it’ and it’s been 5 years now. A lot of the issues are so current and will always be current. I’m just hoping that legacy will live on for a while.
EH: The show subverts a lot of rom-com cliches, but what do you think makes the genre effective and successful?
Being able to switch the tone of a show on a dime. We have 26 minutes to tell the story and across that episode, most of the time, we can go from broad comedic slapstick type comedy to heart-wrenching dramatic themes between 2-3 people. That really makes the show successful because you don’t know what’s going to happen — there’s no regular format. You don’t know where that shock element is gonna come in and when that pace is gonna change and people like that. It’s funny and silly but then it’s so real. The fans have been so supportive of that and they’ve loved and hated us at different times for all the right reasons. You want to root for a character but you also want to be disgusted by their behavior and you want to be embarrassed by them. And then you want to find them hilarious again. There are a whole plethora of emotions you should feel towards a character and I think we’ve achieved that.
EH: I read that you’re also interested in writing a rom-com screenplay yourself.
I’m working on something at the moment. It’s basically revolving around fighting for love. I’ve always been a fan of romantic comedies, but I think if we go back to what I said about ‘formula’ they were very formulaic. I like the idea that two people are madly in love with each other but for some reason, they can’t be together, but they try everything but they just can’t be together. I’m working on a proper old school love story — the things that our parents grew up on. The romantic situations where you want something to be so perfect but life gets in the way of what you wanna do with your life. There’s a classical approach to love and romance that I think can be re-explored.
EH: There’s that quote that’s like ‘Just because you’re in love with each other doesn’t mean that you’re right for each other.’
And I love that! There’s many of my friends and family who have fallen head over heels with the wrong person, not knowing it. Yet something is keeping them apart, whether that be geographical location or age or profession or something that is stopping them from being together. So how many changes do you need to make in the rest of your life to be with the person you’re meant to be with. So look out for that.
EH: I also read in another interview that you never think of things in terms of already making it, but rather simply another step in your career.
It’s not only a logical step, but it’s also a lucky step. Never lose sight of how lucky you are. Despite how hardworking I tend to be, I’m also extremely grateful and recognize how lucky I am. I think in terms of logical, I would love to do something completely different. In terms of lucky, I would just literally like to do something where I’m working on something that I am as passionate about as I was on You’re the Worst. I think gone are the days, for me personally, where I do something for the wrong reasons. I think the next logical step would be to do something that I love. And that might take awhile. (laughs) I think the shedding of Jimmy is going to take a while, and so I want to find something that’s super different and interesting and makes sense. I don’t wanna discredit everything that was done in the last 5 years by jumping onto some studio sitcom for the wrong reasons. I think it’s just being smart and also recognizing how fortunate I was to have these past 5 years.
In the meantime, I’m doing Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, which is coming out in May.
The You’re the Worst series finale airs on April 3rd. Check out the trailer for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu below.