With all due apologies to Maeby Fünke.
Marry Me, Tuesdays at 9/8c, only on NBC.
Oy, the horrible, sit-com-y descriptions of this show that have been bandied about via press releases and those who repeat them. Can two crazy kids who’ve been dating for what seems like forever actually make an engagement – let alone a marriage! – work? Not if they can’t get the proposal right! Sigh. I shan’t participate in this, even in a mocking way, any further – this is a half-hour, single-cam show about two people in love and their ups and downs, and it’s often funny and it’s sometimes touching and you should watch and see if you like it too.
One really can’t talk about Marry Me without discussing the lamentably-departed Happy Endings.1 Star Casey Wilson (Annie) plays a more grounded version of her luckless in love Endings character while creator David Caspe wrote most of that show and Jamie Tarses executive produced both series. A certain amount of Endings deadpan, real-but-absurdly-heightened style is reflected in Marry Me‘s writing, although Happy Endings was much more of an ensemble show while Marry Me looks focused on its semi-engaged protagonists.
Other familiar faces and strong comedic deliverers of lines populate the crowd, notably Ken Marino (Children’s Hospital, Party Down) as the other half of the engagement disaster, and Tim Meadows (SNL, etc.) and Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal) as Annie’s fathers, both of whom are named Kevin.
Who is Marry Me For?
Comedy fans of most stripes should gravitate to Marry Me – it’s primarily a writer’s show. Fans of Marino and Wilson will also tune in. Beyond that, the ages of the characters (early 30s), the focus on relationships (it’s unclear what jobs anyone has), and the sweet but far from saccharine tone would seem to target people who find The Mindy Project too shrill or those who wish there were more jokes in Brothers and Sisters. This isn’t a knock against Marry Me – TV demos are just weird, y’all.
Please Say Yes, Please Say Yes…
In pacing and subject matter, Marry Me is the grown-up child of its Happy Endings progenitor. There is a lot a lot a lot of quick, wry, banter-y dialogue delivered marvelously by almost all involved. The situations in this situation comedy are broken out, dwelled upon, expanded into semi-bizarre but quite hilarious discourses, and stacked next to more serious moments that are acknowledged, not mocked, before moving on. As dangerously close as it sometimes comes, Marry Me hasn’t pigeonholed any of its characters2 instead giving everyone strengths and weaknesses, flaws and whatever the opposite of flaws are, wombat.
I’ll Take That As You Need to Think About It…
It’s more a question of where this is all going than what did Marry Me do wrong. It’s unclear how long the show actually intends to keep the main characters in matrimonial limbo – how contrived will things need to get to keep the pair together but not engaged? Tone and material-wise a good third of the show blythely walked past twee or typical3 – it’s a small step to actually being twee or typical. As Extra Hot Great pointed out, there’s a rule on TV this fall that all comedies must include a heavier bearded friend, and Marry Me is no different.
Co-executive producer Seth Gordon produces The Goldbergs and Tarses hasn’t always made pantheon-level works, either.
Does This Pass the Bechdel Test?4
Kinda sorta. Annie does have conversations with two different female friends5 that center around her relationship but briefly dive into non-man-or-marriage areas. This doesn’t seem like the most likely candidate to pass the test any time soon what with a heterosexual couple’s attempts to stay a couple as the show’s driving concept. At least Annie doesn’t wallow in a princess fantasy, and both of the leads are reasonably sane, sensitive people.
I gave it away at the top – despite a couple of meh lines and a typical-ness lurking in the shadows, the pilot worked for me. Sitcoms can sustain on writing and tone alone; the concern is it treads in tropes so much the tread wears thin. I’ll keep watching Marry Me until it offends or bores.
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- I’ll be giddily looking at Eliza Coupe’s new show Benched when it debuts in a couple of weeks. ↵
- With the possible exception of the Kevins, but they didn’t have much to do in the pilot. ↵
- Can the two gay dads with the same name conceit possibly land in this comedy day and age? ↵
- 1. Two named female characters 2. have a conversation 3. about something other than a man. ↵
- Both named, but I had to look up everyone’s names. ↵