Winning Cast Saves 'Married'

FX

By Alex Intner, Daily Arts Writer
Published July 14, 2014

If I were to tell you that FX has a new comedy from the co-writer of “The Last Exorcism”, and that it’s funny, I would forgive you for giving me a weird look. Andrew Gurland, who wrote a lot of independent features before that horror film, created this surprisingly humorous show for FX. What he created is a sitcom that attracted a fantastic cast. It has some heft, but it doesn’t break the barrier between comedy and drama like other FX “comedies.” What results is a program that suffers some minor growing pains, but ultimately is a good show.

Married


B+
Series Premiere -- Four episodes screened for review
FX
Thursdays at 10 p.m.


The premise of the show is simple. Academy Award Winner Nat Faxon (“Ben and Kate”) and Judy Greer (“Arrested Development”) play Russ and Lina, a lower-middle class married couple. They live their lives, raise their kids, and crack sex jokes, like real couples do. The ensemble is rounded out by Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child”) and Brett Gelman (“Go On”) play friends with whom the couple gets into wacky misadventures.

The cast is about as close to a murderer’s row as you can get on TV nowadays, and they’re the best part of the show. Many of the best comedies are, simply, funny people being funny, and this is the case here. Some of the show’s best moments are when the writers allow the cast , which has great chemistry, to just sit back and talk to one another. Faxon and Greer are believable as a married couple, and they do an excellent job showing the minor ups and downs that occur in any marriage.

It helps that they’re surrounded by supporting players who are great at what they do, especially with some of the meatier material in the show as the season progresses. While Gelman brings a similar yet calmer version of what he brought in “Go On,” he adds a sense of loss to the character that is at times quite compelling. Slate, of course, is an extremely talented actress, and she handles some of the heavier material in the series. She is married to an older man, and the age difference creates some tension between the couple. She handles the portrayal of this tension very well, providing some of the show’s best scenes.

“Married” is also extremely raunchy. Many scenes are sex joke after sex joke. There are some shows that do this and fail miserably because they don’t put anything around those jokes. They just try to be joke delivery machines. It takes a couple of episodes for this show to work its way out of that hole, but as it goes it starts to add depth to the characters, partially due to the writing, and partially because of the quality of performance these actors are bringing to the table.

Sometimes all a comedy needs is a really good cast and some funny stuff for them to do. In this case, the cast is extremely talented, to the point where they’re making me laugh at even the crassest and most repetitive of jokes. As the show develops its characters, lead and supporting, this could turn out to be something special. It’s not at that level yet, but the potential is there.