[Contains sad skateboard rides and SPOILERS!!!]
I was quite excited about FX’s new sitcom Married when I first saw its cast list, but perhaps I should have paid more attention to the creator credit, which went to Andrew Gurland, a writer/director best known for The Last Exorcist… a derivative horror flick that was noticeably lacking insightful jokes and sympathetic, relatable characters. According to the blurb on Wikipedia, this series centres on “a long-time married couple who, when they are not fighting over their debts and declining sex life, are reminded that their close friendship is what drew them together in the first place.” But that friendship really doesn’t come across in the pilot episode, where they act like two hateful a-holes who happen to share a house, but have nothing in common beyond the three daughters they’re resentfully raising together. Meh. Even worse was the way the supporting characters were (mis)treated…
When ‘Lina’, the shrewish, sex-eschewing wife (played by a vastly overqualified and ill-served Judy Greer), gives her husband ‘Russ’ weary permission to outsource his sexual needs, he’s advised by platonic gal-pal ‘Jess’ (Jenny Slate) to get his ears waxed before even attempting to pick up another woman. So he goes to a salon, and is treated by an attractive stylist named ‘Isis’ (Karolin Luna), who seems quite receptive to his faltering attempts at flirtation, until the subject of children comes up, and she reveals that she suffered a miscarriage six years earlier. To cheer her up and/or continue their flirtation, Russ takes Isis out for ice-cream, and along the way they pass a pet shop, where she coos over an adorable puppy, and talks about how God must have taken her baby away because He didn’t think she was fit to be a mother. Russ then buys her the puppy as a present, and she proceeds to name it “Charlie”, after her the baby she lost. The pair of them then head back to the apartment she shares with her grandmother (Julia Vera), for a little “afternoon delight” in a bed overlooked by a framed photo of Charlie’s last sonogram. Before they can consummate their affair, Russ receives an urgent call from his wife, and hurries home to discover that his daughter’s goldfish has died (because he drowsily overfed it… though he’s happy to let her assume all the blame!)
Later that evening, his barfly buddies chuckle over his near-miss with Isis, and discourage him from returning to her apartment… but he whines that he promised to buy her some dog food, and ends up following through on that promise after he leaves the bar. He’s met at the door by Isis’s intimidating ex, ‘Angel’ (Lobo Sebastian), who got the heave-ho after his then-girlfriend’s miscarriage… though they’ve remained friendly enough for him to help her out, now that her grandmother has had a heart-attack and been taken to hospital. Angel hands Russ the puppy to look after while Isis is away, and winces at the name she’s chosen for it, before philosophically shrugging off the painful memories this stirs up for him. Ross takes the puppy home with him, where it’s spotted by one of his young daughters, and assumed to be a present for them. The wife is pissed at her husband for buying it without consulting her, but rejects the idea of returning it now that the girls have started to bond with it (for all of like thirty seconds). After receiving several flirtatious texts from Isis, who’s also curious to know how her “Charlie” is doing, Russ decides to go to the hospital with a bloodied collar, stand beside the grandmother’s sick-bed, and inform Isis that the puppy she named after her dead baby was run over by a car, and is now also deceased. He then makes a quick, unchivalrous exit, leaving his almost-mistress to sob into her grandmother’s shoulder. FEH!!!
I’m not sure whose idea of “funny” that is, but it sure ain’t mine. I mean, I don’t mind bad taste or gallows humour… Game of Thrones has it by the bucketload, and I love that show… but here it just seemed as if we were being asked to laugh at this woman’s trauma, and totally disregard her feelings, even though she and Angel were pretty much the only likeable characters in the entire show! And the fact that the protagonists were a privileged, white, middle-class family thoughtlessly screwing over a pair of lovelorn, lower-class Latinos… well, that really upped the ick-factor for me. A couple of critics who also disliked the pilot have suggested that subsequent episodes are less off-putting… but right now I don’t see any reason to give this misbegotten dreck a second chance.