Get With the Program: Marry Me

marry-me-nbc-hed-2014During Fall Premiere season, sometime you have to step back and objectively evaluate each show based on their respective merits. I said sometimes you have to do that. I can’t. Tried, but can’t.

Which brings me to NBC’s new sitcom Marry Me. Now, my approval of this show was pretty much written in the stars. Firstly, it’s produced by David Caspe (if reading that name does not make you observe a moment of silence for our funny, fallen friend Happy Endings, there is a good chance you are a monster, or possibly have a life). Then there is the dazzling combined on-screen talents of Casey Wilson and Ken Marino, easily two of television’s funniest staples. Wilson and Marino play a couple in a long-term, quasi-committed relationship that gets turned on it’s head when Jake (Marino) proposes. I know, not exactly high concept, but some of the best sitcoms of all time have been based on even less (Cheers, Friends, Scrubs).

The supporting cast is none too shabby either, Tim Meadows, John Gemberling, and Sarah Wright being the most notable. marry-me-hed-01-2014One of the really impressive things about Marry Me is how it tricked us into thinking we’re watching a show about two attractive leads with occasional appearances from a supportive role, when really this is an ensemble. There are a lot of great characters here, and I have a feeling they are going to get the screen time they deserve. Assuming that this show doesn’t get chopped like another David Caspe gem I could mention. Yeah, ABC, still bitter.

-Whitney

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Get with the Program: Watch Happy Endings!

Airs: Tuesdays at 9/8c starting October 23rd on ABC

TV show equation:  Happy Endings = New Girl flavor+   premise of Friends x rapid fire references of Psych + Arrested Development‘s self-referential humor – Emmy Awards (don’t ask me why, though)

I can’t judge anyone who isn’t watching Happy Endings too harshly because I, myself, just started watching it this past summer.  Did I watch both seasons at an alarming rate? Yes.  Why? Because this show is hilarious.

If you are anything like me, I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, great.  Another show about six friends living together in the city.  Real original.”  The reality that we have to face as TV consumers is that this formula gets used all the time because it works. Case in point: Happy Endings.

This is another example of a show where the initial plot begins to matter less and less, but here it is anyway:  When Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) left Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the altar to run off with a man in roller blades (of all things), their group of friends were worried that nothing would be the same.  Luckily for these crazies, they are all just loco enough to make it work.  This original premise becomes less important mainly due to stand-out performances from the other four friends in the group.  Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) are nuts enough to be entertaining, while still remaining believable as a couple.  Adam Pally is fantastic as Max, their gay friend who is different than any other gay character portrayed on TV.  The approach to his character is both refreshing and makes for better comedy, in my opinion.  Then there is Penny (Casey Wilson).  The show itself makes reference to how she is the stereotypical rom-com heroine, always trying make things happen for herself, but perpetually winding up in kooky hijinks.

When I recently tried to recommend Happy Endings to a friend, she said she had already written it off because it seemed too “sitcom-y”.  While they do find themselves in sitcom situations, the difference is that this brood often makes reference to the fact that they are sitcom characters.  Take for example the following situation, when Penny is explaining that her boyfriend broke up with her for saying her catchphrase, “a-mah-zing” too many times.

“He said he hates when I say a-mah-zing, but I’ve barely said that at all this season… it’s more of a summer word” — Penny

It was great because I, as a viewer, had noticed that she hadn’t said her signature “a-mah-zing” in quite a while.  It’s instances like this that open up this sort of communication with the fans and makes the show that much more enjoyable to watch.  It reminds me of a more accessible-to-the-masses version of Arrested Development‘s self-referential humor (perhaps because AD directors Anthony and Joe Russo serve as executive producers).

Whatever there formula is, it’s working for me and I think it would work for you, too, if you gave it a shot.

I leave you with one of my favorite bits where Max is teaching Penny how to be a hipster:

– Ellen