The snort laugh. I didn’t even know that I was capable of such a thing. I’ve heard the sounds from my mother over the years, and far too many times from my father, but never have I caught myself snort-laughing in my own home. It’s a no-snort zone.
Finally, there is a series – a pilot, for that matter – that inspired genuine laughter from my ManCave TV chair and surprised me with edgy and smart primetime television writing. NBC’s Marry Me offers a fresh brand of comedy for the Bridesmaids and Step Brothers crowd.
“So, this show is a real thing?,” I thought to myself a few minutes before watching NBC’s latest comedy, which is now my favorite new television pilot of the season (sorry, Gracepoint). Created by David Caspe (Happy Endings), Marry Me stars Casey Wilson (Saturday Night Live, Happy Endings) and Ken Marino (Wanderlust, Rode Models) as bickering lovers of six years who are ready to go all in and see where the chips fall. And no, they don’t go to Vegas.
Marry Me begins with the typical banter of bickering couples, but the controlled setting of Jake’s apartment and dialogue reminiscent of Before Midnight, albeit PG-13, exudes a Woody Allen vibe. There’s no prickly supporting characters in the first scene as the couple returns from a Mexican getaway, at least not initially, nor is there any “noise” surrounding the couple. It’s Annie and a chill Alvy talkin’ things out. No, I’m not comparing Marry Me to Annie Hall as two works of art; I’m comparing two scenes. What are you, crazy? (Woody Allen voice)
Although I’m familiar with Casey Wilson from Saturday Night Live, I didn’t immediately recognize her upon first appearance and wasn’t expecting the physical comedy. Face in the wall. Bam. Thoughts of Farley. The same goes for Marino, who I also wasn’t entirely familiar with, but remember seeing on Comedy Central’s @midnight with his former cast mates of MTV’s comedy series, The State. Marino is that actor you’ll recognize, but can’t immediately pinpoint where you’ve seen him.
The story begins with Jake on bended knee, as his longtime girlfriend rants and raves about how she was expecting him to propose on their Mexican vacation. There’s a somewhat shocking masturbation reference involving Jake and the surf girl mauled by a shark, as Annie improvises quite the impressive rant about friends, relationships and her aging, unmarried self. The endearing Jake waits patiently until he can bear it no longer and hollers out, “Turn the f**k around!” Yes, there was a bleep, obviously, but the moment caught me off guard and instantly caught my attention. It was funny. It was unexpected. It was genuine.
And so, the joke is that Jake attempts to propose, but the bigger joke lies within the confines of the vacation home. There are few cheesy moments in Marry Me, but rather scenes of self-pity and self-assurance.
The supporting cast. Yes! NBC made some brilliant casting decisions with former Saturday Night Live cast member Tim Meadows playing opposite Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal) as Annie’s two gay fathers. The jokes are a little weak (“they named me after a musical”), but it will be interesting to see how Marry Me addresses race and Annie’s upbringing. Aside from that, I found the writing hilarious for all supporting characters ranging from Jake’s round, bearded pal Gil (John Gemberling), Annie’s blonde bombshell friend Dennah (Sarah Wright Olsen) along with her foul-mother mother, Myrna (JoBeth Williams). I don’t think I’ll ever forget Myrna jamming to Pink’s “Perfect” in her car; another bleeptastic moment.
A few notes while watching the 24-minute minute pilot of Marry Me read as such:
- “Who is friend?” (It was Sarah Wright Olsen from 21 & Over)
- “Huebel!” (as in, Rob Huebel; another “that guy” actor)
- “Sweating like Shaq?” (a yoga moment)
- “Stanley!” (yes, Leslie David Baker from NBC’s The Office)
Of course, there was the surfer/shark MB joke as well.
I’m in. The Marry Me pilot was such a huge surprise that I just may scoff at new comedies I’ve been watching over the past few weeks. Get those tacos hot.
Marry Me airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.
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