Let’s get the obvious out of the way: The real reason Wednesday’s episode of “You’re the Worst” marked the end of the comedy’s glorious “Sunday Funday” tradition is simple, and best described by series creator Stephen Falk:
“Because they are rather pretentious, narcissistic, provincial people, who are deeply afraid of being normal.”
So when Jimmy (Chris Geere), Gretchen (Aya Cash), Edgar (Desmin Borges) and Lindsay (Kether Donohue) discovered their rebellious ritual had been taken over by the very schmucks they’d been mocking, the very Sunday Funday they were preparing to enjoy — “Sunday Funday, better than a Monday, can only do it one way and that is the drunk way!” — had to become “The Last Sunday Funday.”
But there’s a lot more to it than that, at least when it comes to why the show’s creators and actors saw this as a fitting end to a grand, three-season tradition. IndieWire was lucky enough to be on set when part of the episode was being shot, and we sat down with Falk, Cash and Donohue to discuss their thoughts on the end of fun(day).
The “Creation” and Completion of Sunday Funday
“Sunday Funday was just some thing we’d kind of heard of three years ago,” Falk said. “We’ve watched it getting corporatized and monetized, and we thought the characters would have also observed that. So what would their reaction be? To burn it all down.”
“I think when you end up on a Forever 21 t-shirt, it’s the beginning of the end,” Cash said. “There’s a tipping point, and that’s a good sign that maybe you want to do something new.”
It’s important to note that neither Falk nor the stars take any credit for “inventing” Sunday Funday.
…well, all except one:
Donohue: I think what makes the show so special is that it originates new things, like “new phone, who dis?”
Cash: But that’s also something that’s already in the culture. Stephen didn’t make up, “new phone, who dis?”
Donohue: Oh, I thought he made it up. [laughs]
Donohue: [uncontrollable laughter] I’m just going to go.
IW: Don’t worry, I’ll just delete all of that.
Donohue: No, no. You should keep it. I’m not ashamed of my asshole-ness.
IW: I don’t think that’s what that was…
Cash: But Stephen is connected into the collective unconscious in a way that’s really great. So we get credit sometimes from people who haven’t heard it before — like Kether.
Donohue: I thought he coined the term!
Falk may not have come up with Sunday Funday, but “You’re the Worst” played a big part in bringing a weekly last gasp of drunken joy to the masses — much like they did with “new phone, who dis?” and other obscure in-jokes, which brings us to…
The True Meaning of Sunday Funday
“I think it’s something that starts to bubble in pop culture but has not, necessarily, blown up in the mainstream, and we just happen to hit at the right time,” Cash said of the show’s knack for capturing the zeitgeist. “We take no credit for that. That’s Stephen.”
“What I end up finding myself fascinated by, and then we end up putting in the show, are the conflicting feelings I feel within myself,” Falk explained. “I demand that my writers all have a high degree of self-awareness. We’re all kind of east-side a-holes, but at the same time, we’re aware of how silly and stupid a lot of the views we hold are, and we try to dramatize that.”
Examining cultural trends and absorbing them into the series is part of what makes “You’re the Worst” feel fresh and pressing. From its Silver Lake setting to taking on taboo topical issues (like clinical depression and PTSD), Falk’s series is pertinent, of the now and, yes, hip — but in the best possible way.
“We like to be leaders of coolness,” Donohue said.
“It makes me think about — and this is kind of a weird analogy — gentrification,” Cash said. “The artists move in and create the culture of cool that raises the rents and then all the other people move in, and then the artists move out and do it again [somewhere else]. There’s a weird tension around that because artists want to feel like they’re authentically creating, and yet they’re displacing people as well. It’s a complicated issue. But I think it’s like as soon as you make it cool, well, that’s not the thing anymore. It’s like what Edgar said: ‘Hipster shit is just poor Latino shit from 10 years ago.’ So it’s also commandeering the culture.”
“I think the shadow that falls over the show is not even the fear of not being cool, but of settling; of being normal and boring and old, which is really just being afraid of death,” Falk said.
The Last Sunday Funday…Or Is It?
From that somber note to another: We’ve now witnessed the last Sunday Funday. What started two years ago as a simple day of drinking, making lists of fun activities and drinking while exploring said activities, morphed into a wild Halloween adventure in Season 2 that saw the gang explore a truly freaky haunted house.
“We had such a fun time last year with the Halloween episode,” Falk said. “It kind of broke a few rules of the show. It didn’t make 100 percent sense [in that] there were a few shots in there that couldn’t exist in reality. I always try to be very realistic, very true to life as a show, even though we clearly exist in a higher dimension to some degree. But at the same time, it was just so goddamn fun to experiment.”
And when it came time to consider a third Sunday Funday episode, Falk knew “we still had more juice in the tank.”
“I think this year we wanted to challenge ourselves to see if we had anything left to say — differently,” Falk said. “We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t find something pretty good.”
From all imaginable perspectives, “The Last Sunday Funday” was beyond “pretty good.” In Wednesday’s episode, the sixth of Season 3, Gretchen led the gang on a scavenger hunt seeking a secret speakeasy promising retro decor and refreshing cocktails. Jimmy’s repressed joy for solving riddles brought about similar feelings in the hearts of fans (and reminding at least one viewer of Ron Swanson’s giggly excitement for scavenger hunts on “Parks and Recreation”). Lindsay and Edgar developed their ongoing narratives in surprising and visually stimulating storylines (respectively), while Gretchen pushed all the right buttons within the group, operating as a de facto puppet master to obtain what she wanted.
“It’s a very hard episode to shoot, but a pretty fun episode to write,” Falk said. “It’s fun thing after a fun thing. It’s very episodic, [but] we’ve tried to make sure everyone has a drive or goal beyond just the day. […] In burning Sunday Funday down, we’re really just doing another one. It’s just in a different guise.”
But why, other than the corporatization eluded to in the opening minutes, does it have to be the last Sunday Funday episode?
“It’s absolutely an effort to not feel like the tail is wagging the dog,” Falk said. “[Discarding] the expectation that fans or critics are deciding one of our precious 13 episodes per season — what it’s going to be. So [this episode is] like an impotent reclaiming of it, in a way, since we’re still doing it.”
“I think this is a group of snobs,” Cash said about the characters. “So if everybody’s doing it, it’s not the cool thing anymore. Now that the masses have discovered it–“
“–the hipster masses of Los Angeles,” Donohue added.
“They’re done,” Cash concluded.
…Or are they?
“Yes, it’s the last Sunday Funday,” Falk said. “But, you know, there’s been ‘Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter’ and then ‘A New Beginning’ is the next one. Who’s to say there can’t be a reboot or a remake? […] Maybe we’ll have Thirsty Thursday, or Taco Tuesday.”
So maybe there isn’t only one way to do Sunday Funday — just not on a Monday, and not sober.