“I need a Caesar in our show is what I’m saying. And you’re not Caesar,” perpetual on-screen best friend Judy Greer quipped to her TV husband Nat Faxon in the sort of thems-the-breaks honesty that only a married couple — real or played-on-TV — could endure. Thankfully the ire is not personal, though it does play quite well into their on-screen dynamic as Russ and Lina on FX’s Married, premiering today — Thursday — July 17th at 10PM.
Greer’s biggest roles this summer are both that of wife, one to a man, the other to an ape in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but she knows without hesitation which one — modern marriage or the establishment of an intelligent primate civilization — she feels is more challenging. “As far as two people being married and being broke and having three kids, I think that’s way harder to deal with,” explained Greer. “I feel like with Caesar in charge, the primates were good to go. They didn’t really need a ton of extra help because he’s such a great leader and such a great ape.”
“We need a Caesar. Season two,” Faxon quipped before moving on to matters far less silly. Though that’s not to say the duo’s new show isn’t silly. It is a comedy, after all. But it’s a darker one than most, and theirs is a look at the way it all really works: from the sniping, to the poor life decisions, to the sometimes inevitable loss of intimacy. Life, love, and marriage, are far and away from the television stylings of old. And that’s what makes it all so interesting, particularly in the wake of television’s renaissance.
“Being on FX and on cable you certainly can get away with more than you can on network TV,” explained Faxon. “I think the sort of darkness and the risks were exciting to us. … That was kind of part of the allure in a sense, to sort of go down sort of a darker alley.”
For Faxon — whose Oscar-winning writing work alongside Jim Rash has given us some of the best movies out there in recent years — the change is a palpable and exciting one. “There are more risks being taken and there are the most flawed and wonderfully dark characters, and I think those are the things that are attractive to [us], really being able to get into something that’s so — these fatally flawed people that have so many problems and issues and yet are very much representative of what kind of exists in society.”
And bumble through marriage people do: I mean how can one really expect couples not to, what with the perma-changing, ever-evolving, blink-and-its-different way in which our world works? Riddled with distractions — be it kids, a job, or a desire for something more — it’s easy for commitment and the strain of raising tiny humans into hopefully not-fucked-up adult ones to push intimacy to the background, thinking it won’t cause too much of an issue overall.
But, as you wince-laugh your way through life, Married fields a similar feeling from its audience. Light and easy comedy it is not. For all the callousness of Russ and Lina’s flippant-ness, there’s still a connection there — you see it as the episodes progress — and a solidarity brought on, no doubt, by the endless days and very likely sleepless nights of trying to make it all work in spite of the endless challenges, somehow. Be it botched mistress-fielding or raunchily absurd phone-sexing, however it comes together, it does, for better or for worse. And you have to deal with the consequences, whatever they are — Caesar would tell us all that much.
That’s marriage, though. It’s kind of a mess. But its your mess.
Married debuts Thursday, July 17th at 10PM on FX.