TV Review: Married

Well, that’s most likely it for Married. The ratings have only gone the wrong way, and they didn’t have much room to fall, so it’s likely that these last three episodes will be the last three episodes we get. It’s a shame.

It’s not that Married is groundbreaking television, but it’s certainly very good television. What’s most disheartening is that it’s also moderately adventurous television. Now a family sitcom about another middle class or better white suburban family might not seem adventurous, but Married‘s uniqueness (apart from its uniformly outstanding cast) is in its commitment to a low-key storytelling vibe that simply refused to conform to any particular form. It could be a hangout friend show, a bickering couple’s misadventures show—Todd VanDerWerff over at Vox pegged the show’s vibe just right, saying, “This feels less like a heavily plotted sitcom and more like a funny story a friend might tell you about her own life.” TV could use more shows like it.

Anyway, in way of saying goodbye (probably), here are my AV Club reviews of the last three episodes of season 2 of Married.

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From episode 11, “Triggers”:

Married is trying something subtly audacious this season, letting Russ and Lina change, and examining how far viewers will follow. In the past, they were in the grip of the sort of mania that A.J. and Abby flirt with tonight—now they’re the ones trying to ride out the broader (and traditionally more crowd-pleasing) action. With only two episodes left in the season (or, you know, possibly the series), it’ll be interesting to see if the show’s comedy ages into something sustainable as well.

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From episode 12, “Gymnastics”:

As Russ and Lina have become more comfortable this season—both financially and otherwise—Married’s comedy has adjusted with them. In “Gymnastics,” Russ’ realization that his ex-girlfriend Christy (Maria Thayer) is to be one of the judges at daughter Maya’s gymnastics meet is the sort of setup that suggests not only awkwardness between Russ and Christy (he did not end things well), but also between Russ and Lina. In the first season, where the Bowmans were both materially and maritally shaky, we‘d expect Russ to be torn between two rightfully unhappy women, and for him to do something cringeworthy because of that. Tonight, while he does, in fact, make a few squirmy choices—approaching Christy alone and then at a business dinner to apologize—they’re motivated mostly by concern that his daughter will suffer for what he did. In addition, Lina, while not impressed by the fact that Russ’ former method of breaking up with a woman was to simply not be there any more (“It was before texting,” he protests weakly), isn’t threatened by Russ former relationship (even though it was in a period where Russ had broken up with her briefly after college). As we’ve seen all season, Russ and Lina, for all their jokey one-upmanship, are firmly on the same team at this point.

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And from the finale, “The Waiter”:

Russ—making good money, invited to speak at their old college—has regained some of his old confidence, the one that, as he stated last episode, once made “millions of girls” want to sleep with him. Lina—finding some measure of self-esteem in working—has eased into their new life with some restlessness, sure, but largely freed from the obvious depression gripping her when the show began. But they’re still who they are, and the show—should it get another season—is preparing for the next phase of their relationship. Season two has been about Russ and Lina finally choosing to, as they see it, become real adults. Here at the end of the season, they’re starting to suss out that that’s not the end of the journey after all.

I’ve really enjoyed reviewing this show, and watching it find its feet over its two seasons. Here’s to hope—that FX pulls one of those “quality over ratings” renewals (see: Rectify, Halt And Catch Fire.) It’s bad business, I suppose, but I’d really appreciate it.

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