As much as I like Married, I’ve never given it an ‘A.” Gave this one an ‘A.’ If there’s an essential Married episode, I’d say this is that. Here’s my AV Club review.
As carefully written and minutely observed as Married often is, its cast is what carries its best episodes into the end zone, and this week, while John Hodgman and Jenny Slate are absent, Judy Greer, Nat Faxon, Brett Gelman, and Paul Reiser combine to make “Mother’s Day” work almost entirely, with a significant assist from Raevan Lee Hanan, as the Bowmans’ eldest daughter Ella. The Bowman kids are sparingly used on the show, acting more as reminders to Russ and Lina of their obligations and regrets, a function suited to the kids’ natural, un-adorable performances (although, as middle daughter Maya, little Rachel Eggleston brings a fresh wise-acre watchfulness tonight). Hanan, as the Bowman girl closest to adulthood (and thus most aware of her parents’ fundamental unhappiness) has served the purpose throughout of forcing Russ and Lina to decide just how much of the truth of adulthood’s many disappointments to share. Ella’s conflicts with Lina have steady been growing in volume and pettiness, and tonight they come to a head, her Mother’s Day morning pissiness sending her mother storming off, and enduring to prevent the family from sitting down to brunch when she refuses to come inside Lina’s chosen restaurant (instead of their traditional spot). Hanan is effective in the role because there’s nothing theatrical about her intransigence—I mean it as a compliment to the actress to say that she accurately depicts a teenager’s infuriating dullness.
The best Married episode ever? The best Married episode ever.