As Marry Me progresses, it’s becoming clear how difficult it is to pull of it’s central conceit effectively. Jake and Annie aren’t a new couple. They aren’t basking in the first blushes of love. But they can’t come off as old marrieds in the “Take my wife . . . Please!” vein either. They have to land somewhere in between the audience believing these people have been together for an extended period of time while actually appearing as if they like each other enough to stay together without the obligatory nature of a marriage certificate as their glue. We keep being told that Annie and Jake like each other yet, in some episodes, that’s hard to believe. Like “Change Me.”

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“Change Me” set out to look at a very real relationship problem: You spend enough time with one person and parts of their being become immeasurably annoying. Anyone who has been in a longterm monogamous relationship has been there (Dear Jesse, I still love you, but for the love of god, you need to wash your dishes). You’re at your most vulnerable with your partner and hearing their criticisms cuts particularly deep because these are the people are supposed to love you because of your flaws, not in spite of them. Annie wants Jake to think she’s perfect. Jake, on the other hand, has no defined reason for wanting Annie to stop criticizing him other than he doesn’t like it, which says quite about his character thus far (and how Ken Marino has carried a weak role).

While I thought Gwen Ihnat’s review was spot on last week, at least “F Me” showed Annie and Jake working together in some way that made them seem like a couple that actually likes being together and deserves to spend the rest of their lives with each other, even if that was because of their affinity for defacing art show posters. But “Change Me” devolved Annie and Jake as a couple, and never really gave them a longterm solution for their immediate problem of not really liking each other all that much. In a way, Annie and Jake are the anti-Lily and Marshall, who were also introduced pre-engagement. The How I Met Your Mother couple’s humor came from their codependence and bordering-on-unnatural love for each other. It was possible for them to be cartoonishly in love because they weren’t the main characters of the show (although Libby Hill argued they were the show’s main couple). But Annie and Jake can feel cartoonishly the opposite. The quirks that plague Annie and Jake’s relationship in “Change Me” aren’t dealbreakers, but as they continued to grate on each other, I kept wondering why these characters are together in the first place. Marry Me is best when it looks at larger relationship truths, so it shouldn’t be all sunshine and lollipops for Jake and Annie but the episodes where their characters seem wholly incompatible don’t help their ultimate goal of holy matrimony.

What also didn’t help was that there was no solution to their problem other than a basic discussion that as couple they can’t have unless facilitated by another party, a fact that continues the theme of incompatibility. The Kevins did a fine job of explaining their criticism coping method, but Annie and Jake never internalized that. Quirks are a problem that are never fully solved. Annie and Jake don’t become better as a couple because of their issues with each other. They just make fun of Annie’s parents. Those barbs aren’t going to be useful the next time Annie has to pronounce croissant.

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Dennah and Gil should be similarly incompatible. Why are these people friends? Their time together in “Change Me” once again answers that question: Because they are immeasurably stupid. With Kay off putting her diabolical Valentine’s Day scheme into action, Dennah and Gil are left to their own devices, which means reveling in their own idiocy. Their desire for love—both platonic and romantic—is well documented but their hunt for the hunky, heavily-accented fireman was so trivial it barely even registered, nor does it deserve much parsing. While Dennah and Gil are borderline functional adults, at least they seem to like each other. In “Change Me,” the same can’t be said for Jake and Annie.

Stray observations:

  • The lady lamp in Kay’s apartment is something I need immediately. Also, everything about Kay Sedilla always.
  • This episode of Marry Me was an odd union of Cyrus Beene’s murdered husband and his new prostitute fiance (Matthew Del Negro played hot fireman).
  • “Can we talk about this whole burp catching thing? It’s not a rare butterfly.”
  • “This the guy?” “Seriously?”

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