TV Review: FX’s ‘Married,’ ‘You’re the Worst’

Married Youre the Worst FX TV

Married” is a familiar idea presented in a cheerfully amusing way — namely, the quiet scream of a middle-aged guy with kids, grappling with the realization that hot sex is disappearing into the rearview mirror, and his wife mostly just tolerates him. Its FX companion, “You’re the Worst,” is equally recognizable: a dysfunctional love story between two awful, self-absorbed people, who just might be perfect for each other. If there’s nothing new here (and indeed, another show premiering the same night, USA’s “Satisfaction,” offers a variation on “Married’s” theme), both are still mildly enjoyable. Call them the comedy equivalent of bunt singles.

In “Married,” Russ (Nat Faxon, fresh off “Ben & Kate’s” short-lived run) is the frustrated husband — so much so that he masturbates in bed next to his dozing wife Lina (Judy Greer) after she rebuffs his advances. Tired of being prodded to put out, in the premiere she suggests he go find some other sort of release outside their marriage, which he takes as an invitation to cheat.

The opportunity arises sooner than expected (and in a temptingly attractive package), but the road to Nirvana, not surprisingly, is paved with snafus and misunderstandings, starting with Russ’ misguided decision to confide in his friend Bernie (“The Daily Show’s” Jon Hodgman), later asking him if he can borrow a few hundred bucks.

Created by Andrew Gurland, “Married’s” opener actually mirrors what became a protracted plotline on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but it’s an appropriate way of introducing Russ as a guy with bad intentions, if not the will — given his commitment to his wife and kids — to act on them.

Mostly, it’s the age-old fear of married guys that someone is having a lot more fun (and sex) than they are. Faxon sells all of that — as well as a nagging concern, in subsequent episodes, about money issues — but this kind of series still requires a deft touch, even with the expanded license FX offers to explore sexual situations more frankly than in the broadcast realm.

It’s to Greer’s credit, moreover, that she manages to make Lina more fleshed out than just a tiresome scold, since this portrait of “Married” life tilts heavily toward Russ’ perspective.

The couple is surrounded by an assortment of wacky friends, naturally, including Jenny Slate (fresh off “Obvious Child”), who’s married to a much-older guy (played in later episodes by Paul Reiser); and the divorced, well-to-do A.J. (Brett Gelman), who in one episode drowns his sorrows by hiring a pair of prostitutes and inviting Russ over.

“You’re the Worst” would be the “before” to “Married’s” “after,” focusing on struggling writer Jimmy (Chris Geere) and harried publicist Gretchen (Aya Cash), who meet at a wedding, instantly can’t stand each other and, of course, immediately fall into bed together.

The sex is great — the people, not so much. But the two find themselves drawn to each other, even as they keep insisting relationships are for saps.

Heavily leaning on Los Angeles as a backdrop, the show mimics an indie-film sensibility, with each of the leads conveying just enough vulnerability to offset their odious ways, although it’s not clear that’s enough — especially with the duo essentially being the entire show. (His roommate, her friend and the kid neighbor all feel more like devices than characters.)

Neither “Married” nor “You’re the Worst” are a bad way to spend a half-hour, representing as they do different, darker sides of the love-and-marriage coin. That said, the jury is out on whether the producers have what it takes to make these summer flings worthy of longer-term commitments.

TV Review: FX's 'Married,' 'You're the Worst'

(Series; FX, Thur. July 17, 10 p.m./10:30 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Principato-Young Entertainment.  /// Filmed in Los Angeles by FX Prods.

Crew

Executive producers, Andrew Gurland, Peter Principato, Paul Young; co-executive producer Salamo Levin; producers, Lina Wong, Kyle Clark; director, Jesse Perletz; writer, Gurland; camera, Ben Kasulke; production designer, Krista Gall; editors, Grady Cooper, Ian Kezbom; casting, Richard Hicks, Wendy Weidman, Rebecca Mangieri. 30 MIN.  /// Executive producers, Stephen Falk; producers, Franklin Hardy, Shane Kosakowski; director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts; writer, Falk; camera, Ross Riege; production designer, Claire Bennett; editor, Stacey Schroeder; music, Adam Blau; casting, Wendy Weidman, Rebecca Margieri, Wendy O’Brien. 30 MIN.

Cast

Nat Faxon, Judy Greer, Brett Gelman, Jenny Slate, John Hodgman, Regina Hall, Paul Reiser, Michaela Watkins  ///  Chris Geere, Aya Cash, Desmin Borges, Kether Donohue

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  1. Ann says:

    Not impressed. I didn’t care for the guy when he was on the Ben and Kate sitcom, and really don’t enjoy watching him masterbate. Ick! It’s a really stupid show and the characters are not likable. Sitcom failure rule number one. We have to like the characters on the show or the show will fail. If you make every person kind of horrible, we won’t watch anymore. There ya go.

  2. CYNTHIA MEADOWS says:

    It’s a comedy, thake it for what it’s supposed to be…not real life or at least…not your life.

  3. Lori says:

    I like Judy Greer so I was looking forward to this new show. Although it started out funny ( the first 10 minutes) it went all downhill from there. It began to make me sad, depressed, and angry.
    How dare her husband complian about the their sex life? All I saw was a man who did NOTHING to help his wife and their 3 daughters…as a matter of fact…he gets to go out with his two (annoying) friends, drink, & get high…while the wife is home taking care of the house, the kids, and everything else, does he even have a job? Who knows, and after the first episode…who cares. No, this show is not funnny, it’s pathetic in its depiction of married life…even Al Bundy had a steady job… & would never cheat on Peggy…even if she told him he could…which by the way…no wife would do.

  4. Laura says:

    I was shocked…by how much I enjoyed the shows. Typically, I am a modest and socially conservative person, and was very surprised at how both shows amused me. I will tune in again.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I watched the premier of “Married” just now. I’m definitely in the target market and I was bored bored bored. I don’t care a bean about a guy whining for sex from his wife. Watching him masturbate in the first minute of the episode was ridiculous.The entire episode was entirely centred around the selfish needs of a weak, whiny man. Blah. Where’s the edginess?

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