Married (FX) Review “The Shower”

Married (FX) episode 2 The Shower (1)

I cannot help but think FX missed an opportunity to make a much funnier show about Jess (Jenny Slate) and her marriage to her father’s elderly rich friend. Whatever Slate touches turns into delicious, sharp comedy. In “The Shower,” she takes Lina out for a night of drinking and debauchery at a bar, and under her tutelage Lina finally shows signs of life. Suddenly, the question became is Lina disinterested in intimacy or is she just bored with her life? If she is, no one could blame her.

Russ continued his pursuit of wife sex in an awkward shower scene that ended up with their puppy falling down the stairs and breaking his leg. The dog’s incident was just a plot device to get Russ and Lina to the engagement party of Russ’ rich friend A.J.’s ex-wife. A.J. has the five grand to pay for the dog’s surgery, but before A.J. will hand over the money, Russ has to sit through his friend’s depressing tour of his old home with prostitutes along for the ride. Watching A.J.’s pathetic spiral was far more uncomfortable than anything that was ever on The Office, the reigning champ of discomfort humor. A.J. is so awkwardly miserable his sadness infects everyone in the room.

Then there is Russ. With his single minded desire for sex, Russ is not exactly a complex character. Nat Faxon was blessed with the face of an adorable, sad puppy, but his gentle demeanor is bashing against his character’s blandness. While Lina cut loose, Russ awkwardly watched two women force themselves to be into the sad guy bemoaning the end of his marriage. Even Faxon cannot make a scene wafting with that much desperation work.

I get it; Married is a black comedy and it wants to display marriage warts and all, but the show is drenched in misery. Russ and Lina have three daughters around as set dressing. Do they love these kids? Who were they before they were so unhappy? Should I even care? So far, I have not found a compelling reason to follow this couple’s journey into a depressing oblivion.

It is only under the influence of Jess that they come alive. Jess is a snorting coke in the bathroom level mess who is offended to be introduced as Lina’s husband’s friend. She regrets her marriage too, but she continues to put herself out into the world. Even if she is trapped to some degree, she keeps banging her head against the cage to wacky results. She and Lina flirt, dance and get disgustingly drunk while Russ is procuring dog money and it is all refreshing. Isolating Lina and Jess almost produced a different tone entirely, one that was actually funny. Life may suck, but they can still dance was the motto of the evening, and that is not a terrible motto to have.

No matter how much I want to escape the fact that Russ and Lina’s marriage is the central theme of this series, I have to keep coming back to them. They are the driving force behind the meandering, dour Married and their dreariness makes it hard to define the series as a comedy. Traditionally, comedies, even dark ones, are designed to illicit laughs, but Married only works as an indictment of a relationship that has become a business arrangement.

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