In the pilot episode of “You’re the Worst,” main character Jimmy (Chris Geere) off-handedly refers to Lindsay, the younger sister of his ex-girlfriend and best friend of his girlfriend-to-be, as “Fat Lindsay.” Though the name doesn’t stick, the identity does. Throughout the course of Season 1, Lindsay struggles with body issues; at one point she even wires her jaw shut as a way to lose weight (it doesn’t work well). But as the series enters its second season, Kether Donohue, who plays Lindsay, isn’t stressing the “Fat Lindsay” classification.
“What I love about in ‘You’re the Worst’ is if you pay attention to the way ‘Fat Lindsay’ is used it’s not Stephen Falk or any of the writers saying she’s fat; it’s how Lindsay perceives herself and how society perceives normal-sized girls,” Donohue tells Zap2it during a recent set visit.
In person, Donohue is curvy and gorgeous, but she understands that in Hollywood she is classified as “TV fat.” The 30-year-old remembers the time she was on the set of NBC’s 2011 series “Perfect Couples” as a guest star and realized she was receiving auditions intended for chubby women.
“I’m a size 6. I am not a skinny girl,” she says. “As I was on set I opened my email and I got an audition. In the breakdown, it was a synonym for the word chunky: Zaftig. That was the first time I thought to myself, ‘Oh my god, is this how agents and casting directors and directors and producers see me? I’m auditioning for the chunky girl.’
“I started to get emotional and cry, and Christine Woods who’s on ‘Perfect Couples,’ she saw me and she came up to me and I’ll never forget — because she has a gorgeous body; she’s thin in my opinion — she came up to me and she says, ‘Kether, welcome to LA. I hate to break it to you: In real life, we’re really beautiful and sexy, but we’re TV fat. In TV, we’re fat. That’s just how it is; just get used to it.’ I kind of took that in and from then on out I didn’t take it personally anymore if a character I play was described as chunky or fat.”
That’s why, when asked if she’d like to see Lindsay lose the “fat” qualifier in Season 2, Donohue embraces it.
“I wouldn’t want to see it changed. I like how it’s used in the show because the moments are chosen,” she says. “If it was every episode ‘Fat Lindsay this!’ or ‘Fat Lindsay that!’ that would be too easy, and our writers are too good to go the easy route ever. When it is used, it’s friendly reminder of ‘let’s laugh at how ridiculous society’s standards of women’s bodies.’ … I think the show does a great job of showing that, because a huge part of Lindsay is her insecurities.”
“Fat Lindsay” is also Donohue’s reminder to love herself. “I like that because in my real life there will be times where I’ll look at myself in the mirror and be like, ‘Wait, I think I have a beautiful body,’ and then you read a blog and it’s like, ‘Oh, look how fat she looked on the carpet,’ and then you start second-guessing yourself and you look in the mirror and think, ‘Wait, am I fat?'” she admits. “The other day to [co-star] Aya [Cash] I was like, ‘Ugh, I just want to lose 20 pounds,’ and then I was like, ‘Wait, what the f*** am I talking about? Please don’t ever become one of those actors.’ I do have to remind myself, ‘No, just be healthy and be yourself.'”
“You’re the Worst” airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on FXX.