After decades and decades of the sitcom, it’s incredibly rare that we get anything completely new and wholly original. Every once a decade or so, there’s a Seinfeld or an Arrested Development that will take what preceded it, and spin it in a unique way. However, Marry Me isn’t going for complete originality. In fact, it’s playing with certain tropes in a way that refers sitcom history. That’s not a bad thing; it’s actually one of the show’s greatest strengths.
Marry Me is a strong example of the idea that if you can’t do something new, you can do what others have done—but better.
Like the first take on the holiday episode (last week’s installment), “Annicurser-Me” takes on two tropes: anniversaries that don’t go as expected, but more importantly the sitcom favorite—the bottle episode. Another thing Marry Me has done really well is that, in only four episodes, the relationship between Annie and Jake feels real, as if we have been watching them already for six years of their relationship.
“Annicurser-Me” shows us the past anniversaries celebrating their first date. Every year something goes wrong, such as Jake’s car getting engulfed in flames, Annie getting kicked in the face by a horse, and a restaurant running out of bread pudding. “Annicurser-Me” does a fantastic job of setting up these awful anniversaries, then subverting them with the truth: that they just have idiot friends who ruin all of their anniversaries.
As with the pilot episode, “Annicurser-Me” fills the audience with doubt, to the point where it almost seems like these two actually shouldn’t be married. But then it flips, showing the true reality—that maybe there is a chance for them. “Annicurser-Me” also sets up what I assumed would be a nebulous date in the future that would never be discussed—the day when Annie and Jake would get married. So if Marry Me does get picked up for a second season, odds are we’ll be seeing their wedding on November 4, 2015.
“Annicurser-Me” is a little less successful with its bottle episode take—the group hiding down in the apartment’s basement due to a tornado warning doesn’t quite work. But putting these fun characters together in a small space is still highly enjoyable. Gil shows off his “survivalista” tendencies in such situations, while Dennah is immediately interested in being told what to do by Gil. Meanwhile Dennah’s British date Liam is tossed aside, constantly gets hurt, and eventually abandons the wankers he was trapped with. Unfortunately, Kay is still given very little to do, only commenting sparingly on the events of the night, and giving us some insight into Jake’s previous engagement to the crazy Fantastia Yang.
Regardless, “Annicurser-Me” is great as both a anniversary tale and a bottle episode thanks to the great writing and witty jokes coming from Casey Wilson and Ken Marino. Without this team, surely the material would be much flatter and not nearly as fun as it turns out to be. Even though Marry Me isn’t reinventing the wheel, it is doing a great job at redesigning it.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.