David Caspe (“Happy Endings”) has created a new sitcom inspired by his recent marriage to the show’s forefront, Casey Wilson. And despite his earnest overtures, it quickly becomes evident that the excellent cast and strong comedic writing are overcompensating for the show’s lack of originality.
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The pilot jumps in with Jake (Ken Marino, “Role Models”), who has been putting up with his girlfriend Annie’s (Wilson, “Gone Girl”) crazed but charming outbursts for six years.
Much to the dismay of feminists everywhere, Annie grows impatient for a proposal because she believes that society sees marriage as the next step in any mature relationship. At her own surprise engagement party, she unknowingly bashes the love lives of her friends and family, including that of Jake’s lethargic, “trashy” best friend Gil (John Gemberling, “Broad City”), that of his bitchy, entitled mother (JoBeth Williams, “Poltergeist”) and the lack thereof of her own best friend Deenah (Sarah Wright, “21 and Over”).
Much to Annie’s self-absorbed ignorance, Jake is behind her already on one knee in the proposal plan she has always dreamed of — the one she is screaming to him about.
After embarrassing herself, Annie finally decides to put things right — in an “empowering” move to propose to her boyfriend. Ironically, her grand gesture leads to Jake’s firing.
Essentially, the pilot explores how a couple can still find a spark after six years of dating and the emotional commitment that comes with marriage. After a whirlwind of mishap proposals, Annie and Jake classically question if they truly belong together. Yet, in their separate fits of hysteria, they coincidentally bump into each other at their favorite nacho bar, where they decide that their liability to avoid each other must be a positive sign.
Though the pilot sets an energetic tone, it is difficult to see the show’s potential. There are only many quirky events that can occur between an engagement and a marriage that haven’t already been portrayed on rom-com television. The show will have to evoke fresh issues without reverting to the recurring template of “seeing signs that they’re meant to be.”
The show ultimately makes the not-so-novel argument that love is not perfect. The characters are meant to be revolutionary, but they unfortunately constitute an amalgamation of personalities from the array of existing romantic comedies. Annie, for example, stands as the egregiously flawed girlfriend who always botches things up — yet she supposedly “upsets” the stereotype that awkward women can’t be loved.
Annie and Jake’s friends are gradually introduced to help them solve their engagement issues, and they, too, fit the stock roles of sitcom characters. To add to the show’s pseudo-groundbreaking nature, Annie also has two adorably gay dads played by Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”) and Dan Bucatinsky (“Scandal”).
But there are times when Annie’s vivacity becomes cartoonish, taking the drama-queen persona a bit too far for reality. She is quite reminiscent of Wilson’s Penny from “Happy Endings,” where despite her often annoying personal qualities, she still convinces the audience to root for her unstable relationship.
On the other hand, Jake’s personality does not stand firmly on its own, as it relies and even has rub-offs from Annie’s actions. His one-dimensional ways may be a challenge to progress through the series.
The scenes, though nothing original, still endearingly showcase the fated love between Annie and Jake — from their first date where Annie hypocritically accosts Jake, to the time when she blurts “I love you” from a karaoke stage. Jake’s rational composure certainly complements her emotionally frantic qualities, which eliminates the show’s need for a straight man since they are effortlessly funny together.
Going forward, “Marry Me” doesn’t need to try so hard to retain the audience’s interest, because the simple chemistry of Wilson and Marino can hold it up more than the clichés they embody.