Despite its unusual premise, You Me Her continues to be characterised by its realistic writing and grounded portrayals.
Starring Greg Poehler, Rachel Blanchard, Priscilla Faia, and Melanie Papalia
You Me Her has been labelled as the first polyromantic comedy, though it’s also pretty much the first polyromantic anything to receive a platform as large as international distribution by Netflix, and revolves around married couple Jack (Greg Poehler) and Emma Trakarsky (Rachel Blanchard), who both find themselves falling in love with graduate student Izzy Silva (Priscilla Faia).
Throughout the previous four seasons, the throuple have faced their fair share of ups and downs, juggling as they have with competing career expectations and difficulties in communication, just like any more conventional couple has been portrayed on TV. The series is notable foe the way that it faithfully displays the difficulty of navigating a tricky, often misunderstood, relationship despite the ridicule of others and a lack of understanding as to the genuine nature of the emotions involved. In other hands, and on other networks, and with a traditional TV model, you could easily see the programme becoming more about titillating the audience by focusing exclusively upon the sexual side of the equation, but You Me Her has consistently shown that Jack, Emma and Izzy’s love for each other is just as valid as a two-person relationship.
The writing continues to be a massive strongpoint of the series, despite bringing on increasing numbers of writers, though series creator John Scott Shepherd still significantly contributes to its final collection of episodes. The dialogue continues to be written as massively realistic and the conversations come across really naturally.
This is, of course, aided by the wonderful performance of the series regulars. Poehler, Blanchard and Faia all manage to portray the struggle of their unconventional relationship, though Faia is by far the standout of all three, both played and written as far more sympathetic than the Trakarskys, who routinely make decisions for her as the established couple. Her character development is also significantly more marked than theirs, growing from a listless graduate to a driven and grounded woman focussed upon her own purpose and career separate from her love life. Izzy’s vulnerable position within the throuple is keenly felt throughout the series, and it’s difficult for the audience not to root for her.
The plot lines for the supporting characters in the final season could have been better developed, with Emma’s best friend Carmen (Jennifer Spence) conspicuously absent and, though Aliyah O’Brien is brought in to play Dave’s (Ennis Esmer) sister to fill the void, this does have a marked impact upon Emma’s characterisation here. What’s more, the audience misses out on seeing Dave and Carmen’s relationship development, with Dave appearing predominantly over FaceTime during Season 4 and Carmen struggling with the distance and responsibility of the kids. With Dave’s storyline mainly revolving around how he suddenly has money and wants to move to a bigger house, it’s far less compelling drama than Carmen feeling under-appreciated and cast to one side by her absent husband.
Lala (Enid-Raye Adams), the former busybody neighbour, and her relationship with Izzy’s father Ben (Robert Moloney) is surprisingly affecting, and leads to many unexpectedly emotional moments with Izzy, as she finds herself reeling from her breakup and is comforted by Lala, a far more stable mother figure than she has been used to. Lala and Ben’s wedding also serves as a suitably dramatic backdrop that propels the plot in the third act.
Nina (Melanie Papalia) is also served well in this final series, as we see her character coming to grips with her own purpose. Nina has often served as more of a background character to Izzy’s drama, while also clearly suffering from her own intimacy issues and lack of clear vision for where her life is headed, and her relationship with Shaun (Patrick Gilmore), the perennially “nice guy” is developed really successfully.
The only major weaker point of the final season is that it does seem to retread old drama when it comes to Izzy, Jack and Emma’s relationship. It feels as if lots of the ways that the married couple treat Izzy have already happened before, especially in the earlier seasons, and even though the ending is bound to satisfy long-term fans, a lot of the moves made during the season merely highlight Jack and Emma’s lack of character development throughout the show.
Ultimately, You Me Her‘s fifth season provides a highly satisfying ending to a grounded, groundbreaking show about an oft-ridiculed subject, which is told in a brilliantly relatable and accessible way without leaning into the lasciviousness often associated with the concept.
You Me Her is available in its entirety on Netflix.