If you're thinking of engaging in a physical and emotional relationship with another human being—and particularly if you're white and mid-to-upper-class—FX's new double-feature of Married and You're the Worst would be a good place to start doing some research. The brand-new sexual comedies (romance isn't blooming on either series, and it really only shows up as an accidental byproduct) explore two different relationships in two very different stages.
Married follows a couple (Ben and Kate's Nat Faxon and Archer's Judy Greer) who tied the knot long ago, and whose love life is on life support. His sexual energy is still crackling, but hers has been worn down by three kids and a severe case of the sex fatigue that's common among TV wives. Meanwhile, You're the Worst might be the prequel to the prequel to the prequel of Married. It's about two horny young-ish people (After Earth's Chris Geere and Wolf of Wall Street's Aya Cash) who meet for the first time and have a lot of sex, but aren't seeking a relationship. Since the two shows are airing back-to-back, with Married leading into You're the Worst, the pairing is somewhat of an "after & before," a cautionary tale about the consequences of slapping your private parts against another person's groinal area. And for the most part, it works, though one show is much more enjoyable than the other.
We'll start with Married, since it airs first at, 10pm. Russ and Lina have been married long enough to have an 11-year-old daughter (plus two more kids); Russ still likes to have his penis touched, while Lina would rather stick to a pre-bedtime routine of burying her face in a vampire book. But the FX twist is that Married is presented with gritty authenticity rather than a Hollywood sheen. Filmed with handheld cameras and minimal lighting, Married seeks to keep it real, y'all, avoiding rom-com conventions by putting the show in the art house rather than on a studio set. And it works well. Despite Russ and Lina's lack of intimacy, Married feels intimate for the viewer; that's essential, as it's what allows us to feel both the tension and the still-smoldering love between Married's centerpieces.
And that's what the show is all about. (Full disclosure: I am married with a kid!) Married delves into that rough period where couples transition from partying newlyweds to prisoners of adulthood and parenthood. Though it relies on the convention of "Man still want sex! Woman not want sex!" Married is worth a watch for its cast (which also boasts the amazing supporting trio of PC guy John Hodgman, Kroll Show's Jenny Slate, and Eagleheart's Brett Gelman, who all play friends of Russ and Lina), as well as its surprisingly touching moments about re-exploring old lives and settling back into the comfort of your spouse. If there's an actual premise to the show, it's that Lina gives Russ permission to get his jollies elsewhere, a prospect that dominates the first episode as Russ quickly finds himself propositioned by a pretty little lady.
At the outset, Married falls dangerously close to being all about Russ, but the excellent second episode, "The Shower," (I didn't watch beyond that) gives Lina and Russ an equal amount of weight to carry. That's great news for all of us Judy Greer fans as well as for the show, because Married can't sustain itself on being a hubby-centric, one-way comedy about marriage. In "The Shower," Lina and Russ face the exciting prospect of spending a night out together, but then they're willfully separated to embark on separate adventures, where they have more fun apart than they would have had together. But even as the chasm between them grows wider and wider, it's obvious that these two, now more friends than lovers, still belong together. The episode is touching and sweet in how it handles the inevitable decay and transformation of marriage.
If Married is intimate, You're the Worst is pornographic. Taking advantage of cable's more relaxed attitude toward nude intertwining, You're the Worst is a few inches of perspective away from being hardcore in its sex scenes, of which there are several in the pilot. The raw, carefree sex acts form the foundation of the not-quite-a-relationship between English writer Jimmy (Geere) and publicist Gretchen (Cash). Jimmy and Gretchen are two wretched souls who want nothing to do with each other (or anyone, really) outside of a one-night bone, so naturally they'll end up hanging out together for an entire television series.
There's doesn't seem to be much more than that to You're the Worst, which lacks Married's deeper meaning; the series is more content to set these two trolls loose on Los Angeles and let the hijinks proceed. Some of the side characters in their lives (including a rapper who Gretchen represents and Jimmy's boy neighbor) are there just to be there, adding very little to any central conceit of the show. Geere and Cash are fine together, with Cash more of a draw than Geere's British bad boy, something we've seen before. However, You're the Worst might be more innovative than Married in its occasional and impressive style, with its raw sex scenes and one particularly impressive split-screen shot accentuating the inevitability of Jimmy and Gretchen's coupling. And there is some joy to their relationship; they may be horrible people, but even horrible people deserve someone, especially each other. The end of the second episode, in which Jimmy and Gretchen take over a movie theater in the most annoying way possible, actually left me more excited about the series' future.
Both Married and You're the Worst are non-storybook entries into the rom-com genre that has fizzled on networks, and both shows take advantage of their home on cable (there's cocaine and under-the-sheets masturbation in each). But Married, with its sense of heart and great cast, is the one that deserves your first look.
AIRED ON 10/1/2015
Season 2 : Episode 12