So one of the criticisms levied against Marry Me has been why are these people friends with each other? If they existed outside of a sitcom, would they actually opt to spend time with each other? Is the Jake-Annie-Kay-Dennah-Gil dynamic, put off-kilter in “Stand By Me,” strong enough to withstand the scrutiny of basic reality? But “Stand By Me” didn’t do what it was supposed to do: establish why these people hang out in the first place. Instead, it just showed how the dynamic could fall apart, not necessarily why it exists in the first place. Jake and Gil’s friendship never really goes beyond codependence in this episode. That’s the effect of two people hanging out with each other, not a reason to do it in the first place. The same could be said for Kay and Dennah, who are often paired on capers yet their strongest reason for friendship in this episode is for Dennah to act as Kay’s willpower (an odd idea considering that Dennah does not seem to have any particular willpower of her own). Gil is still an ineffective character in that Jake’s sole reason for staying with his man-child best friend only started after Gil’s wife left him. Annie and Jake have their reason for being together, as evidenced by their “Get out of town” weirdness, but I still don’t understand why any of these people want to hang out with Gil.
For a plot that was meant to employee the whole ensemble, much like “Annicurser-Me,” the characters still felt pretty secluded from each other, with a lot of the heavy lifting for the episode going to Gil. Structurally, the beginning of Marry Me’s episodes had focused on Annie’s particular brand of crazy, leaving Jake to be her guiding light back into sanity. But in “Stand By Me,” it’s Jake who gets to lose it again, while Annie puts him back together. It’s a step in a positive direction for the show, allowing the basic concept to be messed with, just as the dynamic of the group is in this episodes. But Jake does not get the life lesson learned that Annie usually does. Instead, he just got to tuck his crazy that had never been seen before back in where it belonged. While Jake got to be a little looser this episode, his growth at the end of the episode didn’t serve the greater purpose of the show’s goal–to get these two crazy kids married–in the same way that Annie’s growth as a person does.
It doesn’t help that Jake and Gil are the two weakest characters on the show and their move to the direct spotlight is not a welcome one. The latter half of the episode was stronger than the first because of the involvement of the women. Annie was the only friend who did not seem as thrown by Jake and Gil’s break up, but their dynamic at the brunch was some of the show’s better moments. Something funny was brewing in this episode, but with the focus placed mainly on Gil and Jake, it was tamped down for time.
One of the benefits of this episode is that it gave Kay more to do and a sex life. Tymberlee Hill is the show’s bright light at this point and while Gil is being pushed as this breakout character it’s really Kay that’s what working for the show the most (“No, she didn’t try to buy a horse with my credit card. She succeeded” was such an excellent line reading). She’s a caricature like the rest, but she’s also it’s rational center in a way that Jake tries to be. That worked in Happy Endings at different points for several characters (even Penny, at times), but specifically for Jane and Brad, in that they could be both ridiculous and scoff at the ridiculousness of those around them. (Writers Daniel and Matthew Libman are Happy Endings vets.) It’s also refreshing to see a lesbian relationship played out on TV not solely in the context of one-liners (which Marry Me does, although in the same way it does to any other romantic relationship), but as something more multi-faceted. Kay’s sexuality, but she’s not just a stereotype who doesn’t actually sleep with other women either. So maybe give Gil a break and let Kay take up the slack.
- “Maybe in the future don’t attach the thing you lose the most to the thing you you lose the second most.” “. . . Where’s my pen? Oh, it’s attached my inhaler and passport.”
- “You’re a real piece of what I work to push out of my bottom.” Here’s the problem with Gil: Unlike Jake, I don’t think is as clever as he seems to.
- “His username is social security number but for Gil, yeah!”
- “It’s classic visual cue to let people know that I’m now doing well. Much like this limited edition Eric Stonestreet button down.”