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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Marry Me: “Spoil Me”

Illustration for article titled iMarry Me/i: “Spoil Me”
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“Spoil Me” is what I wanted Marry Me to be from the beginning: Larger relationship truths told through the skewed lens of creator David Caspe. “Spoil Me” wasn’t executed entirely perfectly, but the larger theme at work gave “Spoil Me” a backbone to build on. The episode’s trio of writers, Jordan Cahan, Matthew Libman and Daniel Libman, each have episodes of Marry Me under their belts. But they’re also veterans of Happy Endings writers room, a show that succeeded at episodes that didn’t seem to have a larger theme, but in fact were about relationships, romantic or otherwise. One of Marry Me’s problems is that it has felt shapeless. Why are these people doing what they’re doing? What is their reason for existing in the same sphere? But “Spoil Me” made sense. It gave Jake and Annie a concrete reason to act the way they did, even if most couples facing similar problems don’t employ a lie detector test while debating their television viewing habits.

In “Spoil Me,” the larger truth centers around the viewing of a fictional television show, The Moors, which sounds like Downton Abbey, plus boobs and killing, which makes Downton Abbey seem much more appealing. Jake thinks Annie has cheated on their TV night, Annie thinks Jake has done the same (even dipping into the chocolate covered pretzels). At the heart of “Spoil Me” is really a classic sitcom problem. If DVRs had been around for Jerry and one of his rotating girlfriends (or maybe even George and Susan), Paul and Jamie Buchman or Monica and Chandler, this scenario would have surely shown up in different sitcoms, because watching a TV show without your partner is real-world issue that causes tension based on a mutual trust but isn’t serious enough to signal a real problem in the relationship.

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Tim Meadows’ Kevin becomes the ultimate voice of reason for Jake. Sometimes, you just have to live with the lies your partner tells you. “We’re smart enough not to ask,” Kevin tells his future son-in-law. It just works, especially for Dan Bucatinsky’s sake (“Kevin loves to ask questions while we’re watching our show and I love not beating him to death with a hammer because he interrupts every five seconds.”). Sometimes real love is living with the lies you tell each other. The DVR issues were a silly excuse to discuss that sentiment, but it gave “Spoil Me” a depth that other episodes have lacked. It was also a reminder that, hey, these people are getting married, and they’re both making a concerted effort to start their lives together on the right foot. Marry Me’s lesser episodes have lost sight of that.

Dennah, Gil and Kay get caught up in swinging cops Gary (Rob Riggle) and Laguna Matata (Natasha Leggero). (Before we get into real criticism, real talk: It bothered me so much that Leggero’s character name was Laguna Matata. Much like the celebrity cameos of The Moors—see below—it took me out of the moment for one stupid punchline.) Dennah’s foray into dating law enforcement only seemed to serve the purpose of allowing Jake and Annie to get their hands on a lie detector. But Riggle and Leggero, two excellent weirdos, felt marginalized in service of the larger plot.

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The Marry Me writers haven’t figured out what to do with the B-plot when Jake and Annie aren’t a part of it just yet. The subplots have a tendency to be thankless endeavors that are completely overshadowed by the main storyline. But these smaller ideas have allowed some characters to grow—namely Kay, who was otherwise doing nothing—while others have become much more palatable in their smaller roles—namely Gil, who is much better is small doses.

Stray observations:

  • “Spielberg’s Lincoln?” “McConaughey’s Lincoln?” “Lawyer?” “Car commercial.” “Gross! But we’ve all be there.” “All night, all night, all night.” This was mainly funny to me because my broadcast included a McConaughey Lincoln commercial.
  • “I was like, ‘Is the monster that I’ve chosen to fill with babies?’”
  • Ding ding ding! Happy Endings reference. Although it did come full circle in a weird way, considering that both Leggero and Riggle appeared in Let’s Be Cops, which starred Damon Wayons, aka, Annie’s choice for favorite character in that Buzzfeed poll she voted in.
  • “Gil, we’re going out. My number is 911.”
  • “The celebrity cameos totally take you out of it. In what world is Venus Williams a Victorian-era executioner?”
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