The backstory to “Marry Me” — with the show’s creator and star being actual newlyweds — might be the best and worst thing this romantic comedy has going for it. A reunion of “Happy Endings” showrunner David Caspe and actress/wife Casey Wilson, the series works a little too hard at conjuring whimsy, beginning with a botched marriage proposal and all the hurt feelings that ensue. But amid a fall with several similarly themed shows, including NBC’s more promising “A to Z,” there’s just not enough substance here to suggest “happily ever after” is in the show’s future.
Annie (Wilson) and Jake (Ken Marino) have been together for six years, and she returns home from a romantic vacation miffed and disappointed that he didn’t pop the question. So when he drops to one knee, it’s not enough to interrupt her unbridled rant about him and pretty much everyone he knows, even with family and friends hiding nearby to share the moment — and hearing every word.
If that spoils perhaps the show’s biggest gag, it’s almost impossible to understand what follows without it, as the two labor to repair the damage, while flashing back to the beginnings of their relationship (presumably) to help grasp why the attraction is so strong between them.
But there’s a reason romantic comedy movies run 90 minutes or so, which is to say the impediments to getting a couple together can be significant but not insurmountable. And the problems triggered by the differences between Annie and Jake are mildly adorable, yes — “Why does everything have to be such a huge production with you?” he asks at one point — but not so formidable as to want to ride this roller-coaster on an open-ended basis.
Despite some funny bits and solid supporting players — including JoBeth Williams, a recurring character as Jake’s disapproving mom — the writing also works a bit too hard at times, like the assertion that the couple is so joined they’re like “Paula Deen and the N word.” Ditto for the fact Annie’s gay dads (Tim Meadows, Dan Bucatinsky) still squabble over who the actual biological father is, or the fact the show contains several bleeped expletives, which feels less edgy than mildly desperate.
NBC has scheduled the series Tuesdays coming out of “The Voice,” which should funnel a lot of viewers in its direction. But as we’ve seen in the past, there can be a big difference between catching the bouquet and actually making it all the way to the altar.