Or might this marriage be meandering towards meh?
Most recently a mild malaise has merged with my mind – more a maligning of my mode of media, Mabel – making my means of makeshift mental mitigation most minimal.
Most minimal indeed.
The maker of this modicum of mirth and merriment and, concurrently, my multitudinous manner of excuse-making1 is NBC’s Marry Me – a much hoped for series with a kernel of greatness (i.e. Happy Endings) that looks to be more hamstrung by the blasé business of network comedy than buoyed by anything else. Far better discourse on that subject has already been penned – and might I recommend Andy Greenwald’s piece over at Grantland if you want a quick, balanced, insightful view on how we got here – but suffice to say Marry Me will neither save nor kill the network half-hour comedy.
Although parts of the second episode were definitely trying.
Four episodes in and Marry Me is on autopilot, zipping along whatever rails are selected for that week’s episode with frequent stops at Clever-ville, Snerktown, and Typical Junction.2 It feels out of ideas, but, remarkably, not empty – much like the current season of The League. Between the two or more densely scripted sections each ep and the cast’s general unwillingness to hit and hold3 Marry Me places itself above the dreck that exists elsewhere, so often but not always shot with three cameras.
Yet it doesn’t really head towards greatness, either, at least not yet.4 Greenwald argues that, for a comedy series to work, a show must be grounded in some form of reality. Marry Me is limiting its reality, too much, to its core conceit – a couple one the verge of moving ahead with their lives together finding various reasons to maybe not, or maybe wait, or maybe the network honchos should be fine with the conceit not being hammered thrice an episode, m’kay?
Marry Me has shown a very cool and very subtle unwillingness to buy into, if not actually upend, the superficialities of the various tropes it presents – with its characters at least, not so much with the plot. I keep returning to Sarah Wright’s Dennah, the bougie blond best friend who clearly has a brain, and a life, and a recognizable reality that’s tilted towards stereotype, not wallowing in it. In the Halloween episode she gets to most plainly voice what several other characters are coming to acknowledge – it’s time to grow up a little, to move on, that one-note bits of pleasure aren’t enough any more. Most of Marry Me‘s characters exist in a similar space. It’ll be fun to see what happens if the network/creators/writers ever let them explore it.