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Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'You're The Worst' And Making Drama Funny

Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy (Chris Geere) in <em>You're The Worst</em>.
Byron Cohen
Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy (Chris Geere) in You're The Worst.

[In case you haven't heard, a big announcement: Pop Culture Happy Hour is embarking on a West Coast tour! We'll be in Seattle on Oct. 17 (with Audie Cornish), Portland on Oct. 19 (also with Audie Cornish), San Francisco on Oct. 21 (with Mallory Ortberg), and Los Angeles on Oct. 23 (with Kumail Nanjiani). For ticket information, click here — and remember that all four shows go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 6, at noon Pacific Time. Oh, and we're fielding requests for pop-culture advice, so fill out this form to send us your questions. We might just answer them onstage!)

When You're The Worst premiered on FX two years ago, we didn't pay much attention. The problem, at least at first, was right there in the premise: Two misanthropes, played by Aya Cash and Chris Geere, have a one-night stand, only to realize over time that their hostility and distaste for others help make them strangely well-matched. Given that we're supposed to root for these people, it didn't feel like appointment TV, at least on paper.

But over time, all four of us on this week's panel — Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Mike Katzif and me — have developed considerable affection for You're The Worst, not least because it's evolved into a nuanced, funny take on growing up. The show just began its third season (now on FXX) this week, so we've taken the opportunity to delve into some of what makes it stand out, including its specificity, the sneaky charm of its leads, its excellent supporting cast, and a Season 2 storyline about depression that's harder-hitting than you might expect from a half-hour comedy.

Speaking of unlikely intersections of comedy and drama, our second segment lets us delve into how the two often blur together, which gives us a chance to touch on Difficult People, Transparent, sentiment vs. sentimentality, 30-minute TV shows vs. 60-minute TV shows, early attempts at "dramedy," The Love Boat (?!), the Golden Globes, The Big Short, Breaking Bad and more.

Finally, as always, we close with What's Making Us Happy this week. I open with, and Glen joins me to share, a few words of appreciation for Gene Wilder. (Oh, and I throw in a few words about a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend offshoot fans ought to enjoy.) Glen loves this gorgeous essay about the intersection of gay erotica, writer's block and science-fiction awards. Mike, inspired by Stranger Things, has just begun to dig into the complete, uncut edition of a massive book. And Linda is enjoying this YouTube series, which is scratching a rom-com itch, and praises the first episodes of this forthcoming TV show spearheaded by the mighty Ava DuVernay (and producer Oprah Winfrey, who's pretty mighty herself, I guess).

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: the show, Linda, me, Glen, producer Jessica, and producer emeritus/music director/pal-for-life Mike.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)

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