THE BLOG
08/31/2016 12:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

With Aya Cash, FXX's You're The Worst is Anything But Depressing

Okay, Aya Cash agrees, clinical depression isn't the classic raw material for television comedy.

But then last season the funniest thing happened to Gretchen Cutler, Cash's character on the FXX comedy You're the Worst: She outed her clinical depression and the show got better.

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For whole scenes, Gretchen would curl up on the couch in the apartment she shares with her boyfriend Jimmy (Chris Geere) and barely move or speak.

In the third season, which launches Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, Gretchen reluctantly agrees to try therapy.

The depression isn't played for laughs. What we get instead is a kind of dark, almost fatalistic humor from Gretchen and a variety of sometimes well-meaning and more often lunkheaded responses from the self-absorbed crowd around her.

"She's trying to function in a precarious situation," says Cash. "No one is trying to be depressed. It may look like she's given up, but what we're really witnessing is her awkward struggle to engage."

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For those who haven't seen You're the Worst, the premise is that Gretchen and Jimmy from the start were thoughtless narcissists. They met at a wedding where Jimmy was trying to wreck things for the bride, who had turned down his marriage proposal two years earlier, and Gretchen was trying to steal bridal gifts.

When they started hanging out, they agreed they were only in it for the sex and drugs, not because they cared about each other.

You could say neither is entirely likeable, which Cash says doesn't matter.

"It's not a helpful question with Gretchen and Jimmy," she says. "Do we like Louie C.K.? Do we like Larry David? It's not necessary to be likable to be entertaining.

"I think people can relate to most of why they're behaving the way they do."

Case in point: One of the early points of contention this season is Gretchen having told Jimmy she loves him. He recoils. She tells him he said it first. He says he was drunk, so it doesn't count. She says it does.

Cash says that's just an exaggerated version of a real-life issue. "When I was dating my husband," she says, "I had to tell him he loved me. He wouldn't say it."

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Gretchen's a lot less confident when it comes to therapy. When she meets therapist Justina (Samira Wiley) (above), she's indifferent, dismissive and abusive. That is, she's just being herself.

"She wants a quick fix," says Cash. "She doesn't want to have to work at this. She wants someone to give her a pill and have it be gone.

"I've been in therapy, and that's not how it goes. Working with a therapist is complicated. It's a complicated relationship.

"It's very hard to make changes in your life and it's very hard to be told what to do by someone else."

So here's something else that won't be easy for Gretchen, and while her relationship with Jimmy has grown despite their best efforts, Cash says no one should expect them to become America's sweethearts any time soon.

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"You fix one hole in the boat and others open up," she says. "Gretchen and Jimmy have a long way to go."

Whew. If they got too comfortable, that really could torpedo the show.

Cash, who just turned 34, says that when the shooting for a season ends, "I try to put Gretchen aside, although there are always moments when someone will tell me, 'You sound like Gretchen.'

"I try to find stuff that's different, like going out with my husband."

Since they live in New York and You're the Worst is shot in Los Angeles, that's not an everyday occurrence. She mentions that they're in the process of auditioning pound dogs, and the one they adopt must be small enough so it can travel.

Professionally in the off-season, she tries to keep her hand in theater.

"I've done a play every year since I was 20," she says. "I'd love to work in New York again. I'd love to do Off-Broadway."

But the success of You're the Worst has given her at least one new option.

"Whether I take a project depends on what I find," she says. "It has to be good. I've finally reached the point where if I don't work for a while, I'm okay."

Nothing depressing about that.