Talking With You’re The Worst’s Stephen Falk! The Writing Process! How The Series Started! And More!

“You’re The Worst” : Stephen Falk

I love romantic comedies as much as the next girl, but you come to a point when the same story keeps popping everywhere with the same characters. The story gets beaten to death so many ways. I lean more towards the creepy badass fiction. When I heard about this show, I expected the usual. Out of curiosity, I decided to give it a chance. To my surprise, I actually got hooked instead of collapsing out of boredom. Yup, that’s not an exaggeration at all. You’re The Worst did possess the mandatory cliché moments, but the characters felt more genuine and relevant. This might be the dating show we’ve all been waiting for since it shows the reality of dating and the conflicts couples face today.

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We got a chance to talk to the master mind behind it all, Stephen Falk. You might know him from Weeds, and Orange is The New Black. Stephen shared his thoughts on the show, what the fans should expect, and even shared some tips for future writers who are interested in joining him.

As far as the writing process goes, Stephen stressed how structure is so crucial to the show. He splits season one into “Act 1,2 and 3”. Act 1: Jimmy and Gretchen, two different characters meeting. Act 2: Experimenting and having fun with each other. Act 3: The “Oh shit, we are actually in it” moment, finally ending up in a relationship. The process is well thought out to its finest point and detail.

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In the field of comedy improve isn’t something new, it’s certainly embraced. Stephen steers away from it, not a huge fan of improve when it comes to shows. He enjoys “Language that feels like written”. “I like language that is well thought of beforehand. Taking a lot of time to craft a dialog. Respect the craft of writing.”

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The transition to TV from writing feature seems to have worked out well for Stephen. After some “troubled screenplay writings”, he is now in a good place. He still does both. “TV scripts are much shorter. It’s awesome because you are done quicker. TV sets up story engines, unlike in screenplays.” There are different contradicting characters and Stephen explains how he has to look ways for them to cross paths and continue. How he could get each of them involved in the ongoing story. “Looking long term for how I’m going to generate stories.”

When you watch the show, you start seeing your own group of friends. They might be the slightly amplified versions of them, but they are there and real. You can’t help but wonder if Stephen’s characters are based on his own friends and people around him. The hipster nation is proudly represented in this show. After living in the village in New York, and Berkeley, hipsters aren’t anything new. He always lived in the heart of it all. Stephen currently lives in Los Feliz. It’s not a total surprise when the show highlights the hipster culture. He claimed that the characters aren’t inspired by specific individuals, but more of a representation of all the people around him. Nonetheless, when it comes to Jimmy, the struggling writer, his own experiences bleed through the character, “How it is to be a writer”.

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Stephen is aware of the changing comic taste. “Just trying to be more aware of how humans interact, being able to be with the comedic tone. The show got to go to very silly places”. The cliché tones and pop cultural references are all part of it. He is a “Big fan of the Silly. Can’t write Hannibal or watch it. Very hard to put in to words”.

The balance in unlikable realistic characters that still manages to connect with the audience is a concoction rarely achieved; Yet Stephen manages to do exactly that with Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy (Chris Geere). He describes how you have to be mindful of “the tight rope you are on and feel free to make the characters say what they need to say without censoring. Usually characters needs to be likable, but it’s totally untrue. The reality of humanity. TV is entering a period for characters to be actual, not just fictional”. The reality of humans are, “Dark and damaged, and f***** up” There’s a darkness inside all of us. Stephen tries to “write a character that feels edgy. Want to create characters who are flawed.”

Speaking of balance, is there one between the audience laughing at the character vs. laughing with them? “Just having respect for all the characters even the bad ones. It’s good to laugh at the characters”. Build them up before breaking them down. Put the characters to the test to see how they struggle their way out of it.

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To add on to it, You’re The Worst tries to bring the worst in all the characters. The intensity of their bitter behavior is well thought out and sensible. “The actors are so likable, I can’t make then not likable. Jimmy being cruel, being mean to people not deserving. Gretchen comes off being nasty and vicious. Be careful of the insecurity, where it comes from. We see the parents. Make the audience see what their damage is. Not random acts of verbal violence. Respect the character and hit a tone of balance. Balance the bad behavior”.

As far as the characters go, we definitely can’t forget about Edgar (Desmin Borges) and Lindsay (Kether Donohue). This season Stephen gives Edgar “a little more of an identity than a struggling Vet. Edgar gets a hobby and a love interest. Weave in to the society again”. He is still feeling the after effects, but trying to get back into the social ring. Glad to hear that he’ll be dealing with girl problems for a change. “Lindsay is in the wake of being abandon. She will decide how to behave. She will try to find her place. She really didn’t do anything besides being a wife. She is mad Paul had a girlfriend and wants to destroy that”. End of season one we see Edgar developing a crush for Lindsay, and it’ll be interesting to see where that might take their friendship.

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Relationships are “Inherently problematic”. Stephen keeps the story fresh and interesting. He doesn’t let them dwell in their worlds for too long. Keep stepping closer to each other. Advances are made in Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship to “spin their world a bit” and not necessarily to get a story out of it. “Fear manifest into behavior.”

If you are a writer and interested in joining the team, Stephen looks for “Original voices and well-crafted stories, rather than the concept”. As we mentioned earlier, the structure is very important. “Purest distillation of their voice. Ones that don’t have over lapping talent, different voices. Written properly. Formatted properly. Not trying to replicate something”.

It was so great talking to Stephen. He complimented his extraordinary cast. They aren’t the usual familiar faces you see on TV and he was excited that he got to hire amazing talent, rather than popular names. You’re The Worst season 2 is on FXX. Don’t forget to check it out.

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