Just after premiering its second sitcom, USA wraps up the freshman run of its first, Sirens, this week in “Shotgun Wedding.” Theresa (Jessica McNamee) starts questioning the direction of her life after being shot. Thinking there isn’t anything keeping her in Chicago, she considers a transfer to the F.B.I. in Washington D.C. Desperate not to lose her, Johnny (Michael Mosley) proposes and tries to make the ceremony happen right away to prove he’s serious. Needless to say, things go awry.
Sirens is a pretty funny comedy. There is lots of sexual humor, some of it weird, and a little play on gender roles, making for a crass but risk-taking show. Comedy is extremely subjective, much more so than drama, but if you like the vibe of “normal” people palling around and don’t mind when they talk about porn and the like, then this is probably for you.
For those looking more for the personal stuff, character development and growth through maturation, Sirens has that, too, especially in the finale. Johnny is introduced as the type of man who has trouble committing, possibly because he isn’t in touch with his emotions. He definitely loves Theresa; that’s clear in every single installment. But he doesn’t always know how to show it, nor how to make her happy.
Theresa isn’t exactly perfect, either. She’s much more casual and self-driven in her sex life than the traditional female, but she isn’t good at setting boundaries. She does stand her ground when breaking up with Johnny, but she can’t seem to stay away from him after, her attraction to him not abating. She sort of encourages his attention, hoping that one day he might grow up and be worth it. In “Shotgun Wedding,” he finally does.
There are all sorts of arguments to be had about the wisdom of spur-of-the-moment nuptials. This is a major, life-changing decision, and it’s worth taking a little time to consider the ramifications of the choice. Yet, Theresa and Johnny have been in one another’s orbits for quite some time. It’s not like they’ve only had a few months to figure each other out. It’s time to commit or finally make a clean break. That’s what “Shotgun Wedding” is about, a pivotal moment for their relationship.
In the end, due to a series of comedic mishaps and possibly the universe acting against them, the couple says I do, but isn’t pronounced husband and wife, through not for lack of intention. This might be a good thing, as they settle on moving in together and seeing how that goes first. If the ceremony is going to be this messy, that might actually be a sign they should slow down just a bit. They do have forward momentum, it just doesn’t need to get to an end game for them yet.
Is this an authentic, modern couple? Well, everyone is different, but I do think this is the type of pair that is only more recently portrayed on television. We get current sensibilities and attitudes, a peek at how people with careers and no marriage turning thirty act in this day and age. More folks are waiting longer and making sure they are absolutely sure before settling down. Sirens presents a comedic take on that.
A wedding episode is a popular format for a season finale, so Sirens isn’t re-writing the book on sitcoms, nor do the other episodes feel groundbreaking, either. But it’s also not stale, the chemistry of the ensemble cast being excellent, further enhanced by the great guest stars playing Johnny and Theresa’s parents this week. It’s a slightly fresh twist on a sitcom staple.
Which is basically a good way to sum up what Sirens is. Sure, a big, black, gay EMT like Hank (Kevin Daniels) isn’t a stereotype, but he’s familiar enough to be relateable. And while Voodoo (Kelly O’Sullivan) is anything but normal, she is still likeable enough in a harmless manner. The dialogue may not be the cleverest around, but it serves to amuse, such as when Cash (Bill Nunn) suddenly makes an ultimatum that he’s head usher (of two) or not taking a role at all, even though Johnny and Theresa aren’t handing out jobs. It all just comes together nicely and works.
The only concern is, USA played it safe with their hour-long shows for a long time and is just now moving into the territory of having must-watch series. With Sirens and Playing House, the network is starting in very tame territory for comedies, goofy like TBS, more edgy than the broadcast networks, but nothing that surprises and delights as much as what, say, FX, delivers. Is that a sound principle? Only time will tell.
Sirens has not yet been renewed.
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