FX’s Married brings its freshman season to a close with “Family Day.” Everyone goes to visit AJ (Brett Gelman) in rehab for Family Day, where he is supposed to apologize for how he has wronged them. Instead, things devolve into a five-way bicker fest as the various adults who make up the cast begin taking out their frustrations with their own lives on those around them. Luckily, the venting actually helps them release their tension and get on track for a happy ending.
I have to be honest, I tolerated Married more than I enjoyed it for most of this season. FX is a terrific network, and Married is paired with the absolutely fantastic You’re the Worst, so I almost watched it out of reflex or default than any actual desire. Plus, I find it much more difficult to give up a half hour series than an hour-long one, as it just didn’t seem like a big commitment to stick with it through its ten episodes. But it’s depressing as hell and makes the viewer feel bad about themselves, so it’s much harder to get into than other fare. It can be barely be called a comedy.
Somewhere along the way, it slowly grew on me, though. It’s not that my marriage is anywhere near as bad as the one at the center of the series; I’m not beaten down. But there’s both a slight satisfaction in seeing a couple worse off than you, and the optimism sparked in select moments that prove even a seemingly-terrible union can still work, that makes Married eventually attractive.
The more I watch Married, the more I’m convinced that Russ (Nat Faxon) and Lina (Judy Greer) are actually much better off than they appear to be. They are in a very rough patch in their lives, struggling financially and stressed out because of their three young children. Russ wants his old life back, and so does Lina, but she’s the more responsible of the pair, soldiering on under the current circumstances, whereas Russ look for tiny outs, and frequently takes them. Because of the misery of dealing with these factors, they work out their anger on one another far too often, and that’s what makes them look like they’re falling apart. But every once in awhile, we get a glimmer of what brought them together in the first place, and it sure feels like that they’ll get back to that happiness once these outside influences are dealt with and go away.
Because of this, I’ve become very fond of the characters. Faxon and Greer are great, as they have been in other projects, and they do an authentic job of developing two characters that are more realistic and complex than most on television. They make themselves sympathetic, even when you’re understanding why their spouse is ticked at them. They’re real people, in look and in action, and that sells the show.
The supporting cast of Married is much the same. Jess (Jenny Slate) and Shep (Paul Reiser) have complications in their own marriage for entirely different reasons, Jess almost trying to escape motherhood. “Family Day” is probably the most we’ve seen of them relating to one another, but while it’s not obvious, they are in a similar boat as Russ and Lina. AJ is mourning the loss of his wife, and he acts out because he wants back what his friends have. Even recurring Bernie (John Hodgman) shows off some good development in the season finale.
Funnily enough, the final scene of “Family Day” is the lightest of the season. After ten weeks of rough stuff, there’s a cookout and everyone is in good spirits. They talk about death, sure, but it’s in a joking manner. Married finally finds it’s heart, and because it waits so long to do so, it’s a well-earned pay-off.
When next season rolls around, I won’t be recording Married just for the heck of it. I will be eagerly anticipating the return of a series that I really like and is very well made. Assuming it’s renewed, of course, which sadly has not happened yet.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00NPR3LII][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00LUDAROK]