By Michael Aaron Gallagher of StayFamous.Net
Actress Aya Cash talked to StayFamous.Net when her character Gretchen first began struggling with clinical depression, a serious mental health topic that many other comedies avoid discussing in such a raw and powerful way.
“Hopefully what we’re doing is both true to life and we also have lighter moments with it,” Aya said. “I mean we are a comedy, and I know that some people are going to have strong reactions to a comedy dealing with such a serious issue, but hopefully people watching feel that we are doing it both respectfully and still adding humor to it.”
As a publicist in the music business, Gretchen is “cynical, stubborn, and fundamentally dishonest,” at least that’s how the network lovingly describes her in its promotional materials. But Gretchen’s complexity on screen is also a derivitive of the skilled writing of creator and showrunner Stephen Falk, who has penned a flawed, three-dimensional character that is at times both likeable and unlikable in equal measure.
In a particularly moving scene from Season 2, Gretchen is lying down on the living room floor and Jimmy tries to get her to communicate with him. When he realizes the seriousness of her depression and its cripling side effects, instead of forcing her to talk to him or leaving her alone, he instead stays to show his support.
It was in this “you stayed” scene, that the writers went beyond entertainment, achieving a teachable moment by raising the audience’s awareness about a topic within the limited constructs of an anti-romcom. By showing one character struggling with a serious mental health issue that another character may not fully understand, they strengthen the bond between the two fictional characters, while allowing the audience to witness the ways in which clinical depression can deeply affect a relationship.
“I think that comedy and pain are very closely related, and comedy comes from darkness, often,” Aya said. “Our show is trying to find the balance between those two sort of sides of the same coin. So far the feedback has been mostly supportive and I feel like we’re getting it right. I hope we continue to do the right kind of work and people will respect that. But there’s also going to be lots of lighter moments as well. And some of the other character’s storylines will bring some more humor to our little comedy.”There is a certain unpolished beauty to Gretchen, as Aya’s portrayal of the character effortlessly ocillates between comedy and drama in a single performance. It is this jutoposition of imperfection and the ugly side of human behavior with the lightness of comedy and love (in its many forms) that makes the series so endearing and has helped earn Cash a nomination for the Critic’s Choice Award for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series,” as well as a TCA award nomination for “Individual Achievement in Comedy.”
Now that the show is about to begin its final season on television and it is time for Aya Cash to bid farewell to her role, it is clear that she admired a lot about her costars, even from early on in the production.
“Oh gosh, everything,” Aya said. “I would say Chris Geer’s complete dedication to the work. He is the most prepared actor I’ve ever worked with. Kether has the biggest heart and is incredibly generous both to work with, inside and outside of work. And Dez [Desmin Borges] is poppa. Dez always takes care of everyone. I think they’re all tremendous actors, but more importantly they are just great people.”
When we last left the unrefined gang of misfits, Gretchen and Jimmy were engaged with the chance of actually having a wedding of their own, returning the show full circle to where it all began. But things might not go as smoothly as planned. Earlier this summer Aya was injured in real life during a stunt on set involving a car, and the actress may have been wearing a wedding dress at the time of the accident.
Perhaps The New Republic said it best when they wrote, “You’re the Worst is the best show that we have about depression, but it also may end up being the most depressing. We all want a happy ending, but right now, neither Gretchen nor Jimmy look to be heading for one.” Whether it ends in marriage or disaster, one thing is for sure – there’s no telling who will be the worst, but what a ride it will be.
The final season of You’re the Worst premieres January 9 on FXX. You can follow Aya Cash on Instagram @maybeayacash. You can also like StayFamous.Net on Facebook and follow @StayFamous on Twitter and Instagram (@StayFamousOfficial) for the latest entertainment news, celebrity interviews and much more!
Note to Readers: According to the Mayo Clinic, clinical depression (a more serious form of depression) is “a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.” If you or someone you know struggles with depression, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America at www.adaa.org for helpful resources, guidance and information.
“Aya Cash Returns for Final Season of ‘You’re the Worst'”
Copyright © 2018 by Michael Aaron Gallagher
Photography courtesy of FX Networks/FXX
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