Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Marry Me: “Friend Me”

Illustration for article titled Marry Me: “Friend Me”

I didn’t laugh that much during “Friend Me.” But it continued doing something I think is beneficial for its growth as a sitcom: It reminded the audience that, hey, these people are actually getting married, and their purpose for hanging out together goes beyond getting each other into wacky, health-based pyramid schemes, much like “Spoil Me.” It even expanded Marry Me’s world. Libby (Crista Flanagan) shows up once more, without her seemingly nameless husband, to convince Dennah and Gil to keep selling their weight loss shake pyramid scheme.

In the case of “Friend Me,” Marry Me looks at the phenomenon of male friendship in the face of commitment. There has been a wealth of shows, especially recently that have illustrated the bonds of female togetherness; even a show so based in the deliciously absurd as Broad City can illustrate the lasting power of female friendship. But few delve deep into male friendship because it is often superseded by the marriage as the defining relationship in a man’s life. Sitcoms give a guy one true friend, or a group of largely faceless poker buddies who show up a couple times a season, who never go beyond the surface of a punchline. There is material to be mined here. Annie and Kevin make that clear in some of the best chemistry Casey Wilson and Tim Meadows have shown as a father-daughter duo thus far: When men get married, they let their friendships go (along with their skin. And their figure). There’s nugget of something real going on underneath surface.

That’s great! There are stakes that have real life counterparts! The problem? The Boyz. Jakes friends—played by Jerry O’Connell, Brandon Johnson (NTSF:SD:SUV), and Steve Little (Eastbound & Down). It’s not they don’t have a real reason, or situation to even dislike Annie. That doesn’t need to matter in the long run if their existence can be justified. My distaste for them just came down to the fact that the Boyz were gratingly unfunny. I did not want to see Jake reconcile with them because I did not want to see more of them. They upped the volume on the rest of the characters, but that doesn’t not make any of them affable screen presences.

Then there’s the B plot. The amount of time dedicated to Dennah and Gil’s odd pyramid scheme was not enough to justify how complicated it was (a pyramid scheme? For weight loss shakes? Sure.). Yet, I did not want to know more of it. I did not want to know when Gil got committed to fitness, or how he and Dennah encountered the Boyz. But I still want more Kay. I will always lament Kay’s lack of involvement in any major development in either the A or B plotlines of Marry Me. She’s consistently my favorite character, and the only one that I wished was there was more of. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. More Kay please.

But here’s the problem with Kay. She’s too smart for everyone else. She’s the sole voice of reason in a sea full of crazies. Every sitcom needs that point of reference for the audience, the character we can pretend we’re making Jim Halpert-style glances at that remind us that it’s okay that everyone else is acting insane. That point of reference can certainly switch from character to character, as it often did in Happy Endings, but it needs to exist somehow to give the audience a point of reference, especially as situations escalates beyond the norm. But Kay is too smart for all of that. She can’t participate in the Gil-Dennah shake pyramid scheme because she would immediately call bullshit. She didn’t even buy into The Moors, the centerpiece of “Spoil Me.” There has to be a way to incorporate Kay’s inherent incredulity into Marry Me beyond telling everyone else to cut the crap. Until then, she’s the only thing I will keep wanting more of.

Stray observations:

  • Annie has nine bridesmaids? Who are these people? That’s quite a few people when the only two that seem to exist in this universe are Kay and Dennah. Maybe Libby, but, c’mon, no one wants to hang out with Libby.
  • “Plus I was in a sorority so I drank just as much as the guys and I still had the strength to outrun them. Delta Gamma!” Sick college sexual assault burn, Annie! For real, this line was funny, biting and perfectly delivered.
  • “He says that doesn’t count because of what happened with the cat, Mr. Meowyagi.” “Aka, Cat Morita.” Always down for cat puns. Always.