In the first season finale of Showtime’s Work in Progress, Abby’s countdown comes to an end, just as she’s heading toward a devastating break-up. Throughout the first season, we’ve seen Abby tick off the days, dropping almond after almond into the trash. Naturally, she got to these final almonds during the season finale.
The episode begins with Abby still dealing with the fallout of admitting to Chris that she saw his deadname (and how she kept that a secret for about a week). Abby is spiraling, going through her notebooks and reaching out ex-girlfriends to find some explanation for her behaviors. “I’m trying to figure out why I’m so broken and f–ked up and why I just drove yet another person out of my life,” she explains to Dr. Franklin who suddenly appears on the couch. When Dr. Franklin notes that it’s not a healthy thing to do, Abby points out that “talking to my dead therapist” also isn’t healthy, but she’s still doing it anyway.
It’s been days since Abby has heard from her boyfriend — and she doesn’t even know if she can even still refer to Chris as her boyfriend — and she’s positive that he’s going to break up with her. This is lingering in her mind as she meets up with her ex, Melanie, who was surprised that Abby texted her after so long.
Abby begins asking Melanie about their relationship, explaining that she’s “dating a really great guy now and I’m doing my best not to f–k it up” which is not exactly what an ex wants to hear after meeting up for the first time in eight years. And Melanie basically says as much, and eventually tells Abby that she can’t fix her.
Abby then makes a surprise trip to visit Chris at work. He’s not happy to see her because he needs more time which, of course, isn’t what Abby was hoping to hear. Back home, she throws out the last almond.
What follows is a depressing albeit funny little montage. Abby gently lays her head in the oven and turns it on… only to notice how gross it is, and to begin to clean it instead. She imagines other ways to die, including laying under a paper trimmer and decapitating herself — and then imagining her coworkers putting her head in a sealed Tupperware container. Then, thankfully, she realizes it’s probably best to get out of the house.
So Abby heads to see Julia Sweeney’s live appearance on This American Life, but even that turns out to be a huge disappointment. When Julia steps outside to see Abby, she’s wearing the full Pat costume. It was definitely a shock — I yelped in surprise upon seeing her — and it showed how much Julia misinterpreted Abby’s earlier complaints about the Saturday Night Live character. The whole moment was a reflection on how many cis people willfully misunderstand the struggles of trans, gender nonconforming people. Julia proudly says that she’s “fixed” Pat; Abby explains that she didn’t want Julia to fix Pat. “I want you to bury Pat.”
Julia insists that she does understand how Pat is a hurtful character, but her idea of fixing Pat is to make “woke Pat” a “progressive icon,” and make it clear that Pat has evolved. “Pat doesn’t care what other people think. Pat walks through life with pride,” she explains to Abby, who stands there in disbelief. But the problem wasn’t Pat’s demeanor or insecurities; it was the way people reacted to the character, the way the sketch turned gender identity into a joke. “You are giving everyone in that theater a pass to laugh at something they are too lazy to understand,” Abby retorts.
The issue is left unresolved, as Julia has to head inside for the show. Right after, Abby runs into Chris who does effectively break up with her, with the reasoning that she’s “too much” for him, and he can’t be everything she needs, or be the reason that she keeps going. It’s all valid but it’s heartbreaking at the same time. But then, as Chris walks away, Abby makes a last-ditch effort and screams out his deadname — which was truly horrible to watch.
“I want you to feel as broken as I feel,” Abby says by way of explanation. “No one will ever feel as broken as you do,” Chris responds. (It should be noted that Theo Germaine is fantastic throughout this season, and especially in this scene.) That, too, is left unresolved as Chris walks away after leaving Abby with a gift: a single almond to replace the one he ate on their first date.