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So opens the new FX series Married, a comedy that manages to paint a decently grim picture of the institution. Greer scowls and slouches her way through scenes opposite Faxon's eager-to-please lovable loser. The Russ character is treated with a lot more affection by the show's writer-creator—a dude, of course—than is his female counterpart. So the premise ends up feeling pat: a blundering man-child negotiates the whims of his overbearing wife, even going so far as to attempt seeing other women when she suggests he have his sexual needs met elsewhere. "You want to split up?" Russ asks when Lina tells him he should see other people. "No!" she snaps.
In the premiere the "other woman" he ends up finding is an emotionally unstable—and aggressively amorous—waxing technician he visits to get rid of his ear hair. Caught up in the tenuously intimate hair-removal moment, she opens up about a lost pregnancy, which leads to him buying her an ice cream cone, which leads to him buying her a puppy she names after the unborn child she lost. The insinuation seems to be that libidinous women are either dumb or insane; the mother-of-your-children types are tougher nuts to crack in the sack, and them's the breaks. I can't even decide if that's more insulting to men or women.
In the second episode, the Lina character is fleshed out a little more and there are moments when she's given the opportunity to do more than sneer at Russ or wake him up on the couch by jabbing him with her toe or shouting that having sex with him makes her "feel like shit." So that's refreshing. In the first episode, Russ's good friend Jess, played by Jenny Slate, reassures him, "Dude, she loves you." But we kind of have to take Jess's word for it. (Slate and Brett Gelman, who plays Russ's other good friend, A.J., are redemptive—I've seen Gelman in bit parts here and there, and he's always great; he gets lots of comedic room to breathe as a broken, bitter recent divorcee.) The IMDB description says the show "revolves around the lengths to which two best friends are willing to go in order to salvage their marriage." That they're "best friends" only occasionally translates. Maybe they're just not suited for one another anymore?
Full disclosure: I'm not nor have I ever been married. But I get it. You're with someone for a long time and eventually sex seems like a disgusting chore, like cleaning the toilet, more specifically, like cleaning it in the middle of the night when you'd rather be sleeping. And sometimes you have to know when to say when.
Married, FX, Thursdays at 8 PM