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'Married' premiere recap: Blurring the lines of hatred and love

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired July 17, 2014

The first episode of Married doesn’t do the show or its cast justice. At first glance, it’s a retread of tiresome cliches about marriage. Buckling under the stress of paying the bills and raising three children, Russ (Nat Faxon) and Lina (Judy Greer) Bowman anchor this anti-rom-com. Without Greer and Faxon’s natural chemistry, the show would drift off into an abyss of overdone ideas.

The cold open perpetuates every stereotype of every sitcom marriage ever. (If you’ve seen a Vince Vaughn movie, you probably already know how it’s gonna play out.) Russ and Lina are in bed together, in the least sexually charged way possible. Lina is reading (a book about vampires, because she likes vampires!) and Russ is trying to initiate sex. Lina (immediately made out to be the “frigid” wife) is not at all into it.


The next morning, Russ wakes up to the sound of his daughter yelling, “Mooom! Daddy’s sleeping on the couch again!” She reminds him to feed her fish, Norman, before heading to school with her two sisters. Russ taps fish food into the bowl before hopping on his skateboard (yes, really) to get coffee with a friend, to whom he complains about his sex life (or lack thereof). His friend offers some sage words of wisdom to solve Russ’s bedroom problems: “You know how Cindy really loves dancing, and I hate it because it’s a stupid waste of time? I dance with my wife, because even though I hate it, I love having sex. Find out what she’s into. Pretend to like it no matter how stupid it is.” Awesome advice.

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Luckily, the show does have a sense of humor about itself, and Russ’s interpretation of that advice is so clueless and goofy, you have to believe it was written as a satire on the trope. Inspired by Lina’s love of vampires, he dresses up as a sexy Dracula, complete with a cape and a Transylvanian accent.

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He’s as far from Edward Cullen as you could ever imagine, but you gotta give him credit for trying.

When even the sexy vampire costume can’t save Lina’s libido, she suggests that Russ fulfill his sexual needs elsewhere. She doesn’t wanna split up, but she thinks he should be with someone else. Confused by the proposal, Russ turns to his friend Jess (Jenny Slate, aka the best part of this show and every show she’s on), who recommends getting a mistress. But only after he does something about his gross ear hair.

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And thus begins Russ’s main storyline: his affair with the girl from the waxing place. While getting his ears waxed, he opens up to the girl doing the waxing about his marriage and family. She, in turn, brings up her former relationship and her miscarriage. The tragedy of her situation is mined for comedy—a good example of how dark and strange the show’s sense of humor is. Russ, in a desperate attempt to woo her into being his mistress, buys her a dog, which she names Charlie, the name she would’ve given her son.

There’s little moral introspection about the idea of cheating on Russ’s part, but external barriers pop up for the rest of the episode, signaling that maybe he shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing. He is stopped from having sex with the girl from the waxing place by a phone call from Lina: Norman the fish is dead (because unbeknownst to his daughters, Russ overfed him) and he has to attend the funeral. Then the waxing girl’s grandmother has a heart attack and is hospitalized. When he resorts to staging the death of Charlie the dog in order to break off ties with his almost-mistress, he finally realizes that outsourcing his sex life is really not worth it.

He comes home to watch a movie with Lina, and just as it seems like they’re finally getting along, the girls find Charlie the dog in his car. By the end of the episode, Russ has not only made his wife even more annoyed with him, but he’s also added another huge responsibility to their lives.

The pilot is derivative at its worst and kind of funny at its best, with the shining moments coming through the banter between Faxon, Greer and Slate. Though the show is about a marriage between two people, emphasis in this episode is undoubtably placed on Russ and his story. Judy Greer does an excellent job with what little she’s given, and more screen time for her will only make the show more interesting. As Russ and Lina struggle to make things work, so does the show.

But it’s only episode 1, and with the mistress storyline already out of the way, there’s plenty of time for these characters to develop and become human. Russ and Lina’s marriage blurs the lines of hatred and love—and with its specific brand of twisted comedy, so does the show itself.

 Married airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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