Marry Me has been generally, quietly, reservedly touted around as The Best New Fall Show. Personally, I think that title should go to Jane the Virgin, though no one would fault you if you’ve overlooked a small CW show loosely based on a telenovela (or, you know, just have differing tastes). Still, Marry Me fits very neatly into the “Has Major Potential, Please Don’t Cancel It” category.
And given how quickly networks seem to pull the plug on anything that’s not immediately wildly successful, cancellation is a very real possibility for any new show. What helps in terms of our own optimism is that the problems with Marry Me are nothing new. Like New Girl, Mindy Project, Parks and Rec and basically every other first season show ever, we just need to get this show to the end, or at least the middle, of its first season to see what’s really there. Hopefully a few tips from existing shows can help smooth that path.
The Main Couple
Casey Wilson and Ken Marino have a definite leg up when it comes to both individual personality and couple chemistry. Though neither have the mainstream recognizability of a Zooey Deschanel or a Mindy Kaling, they have cult followings via Happy Endings and Veronica Mars/Burning Love/Party Down (take your pick). To a network like NBC that wants big ratings right off the bat, of course, cult followings mean less than nothing. Still, these two are good. And my god, are they good together.
The biggest obstacle for this show may very well pan out to whether or not a sitcom can revolve around a stable couple. The will they/won’t they is television’s big staple, and while the first two episodes have been based around whether or not these people can make it work, eventually they have to either break up or get married. So will they be the Jim and Pam of their own show, trading in the excitement for stability, and losing audience favor in the process? Will they Ross and Rachel it, keeping their relationship tumultuous, again to the point of audiences not caring? Or will they How I Met Your Mother the whole thing, dragging their romance out over way, way too many seasons, throwing us too many curveballs, and making everyone angry in the process? What I’m saying is, a sitcom focused around a couple with very little supporting material does not have the best track record.
The Exposition of Characters
The curse of any new show is that they can’t just dive straight into the middle of things— they need to tell us who we’re dealing with. Last week, we got rushed introductions all around in the form of a long, fantastic rant from Casey Wilson, exposing all her problems with pretty much every other character on the show. The problem? We hadn’t met any of those characters yet. So this week, we were reintroduced to the couple’s friends and families. And while everyone is likeable, they’re all fairly singularly defined for the moment. Annie’s gay dads serve as her sounding board, through which we only learn more about Annie. Her best friend is Dennah (a rom-com name if ever there was one), who you may also recognize as Parks & Recreation’s Milicent Gergich, or as That Blonde from any number of cancelled sitcoms, and her B (or really C) plot, which centered around her feeling old because a popular teenager thought she was 40, didn’t do much to define her or her place in this show. Similarly, Jake’s friend Gil (who is so superfluous at this point that I had turn to Wikipedia to remember which character he’s friends with/related to) is recently divorced and therefore spent all of last night’s episode in a dumpy 24-hour buffet, trying to all-he-could-eat over the course of multiple days for only one entry price. It was a mildly amusing subplot, but did absolutely nothing to secure his place in this show. Which brings me to the cautionary tale of…
The Supporting Cast Shuffle
A good sitcom rule of thumb is not to get too attached to any of the supporting cast members. Remember Mindy Kaling’s blonde best friend on The Mindy Project?
Or Jess’ really close lesbian friend (who maybe eventually would have had other character traits as well)?
This show is bound to go through some changes. We’ll lose some characters, we’ll add some. I could stand to see less wacky Gil and more… anyone else with a bit of substance. No matter what, though, it’s going to take Marry Me at least half a season to work through the new show kinks. If it doesn’t make it that far, at least we’ll always have this moment:
They can’t take that away from us.
Vivian Kane also thinks that if they could get a theme song everyone wasn’t already sick of three years ago, that would be a super move.