If you're an idealist, FX's newest series, Married, is not for you. Premiering tonight at 10 p.m., the comedy stars Nat Faxon and Judy Greer as Russ and Lina, the wedded parents of three children who are struggling to keep their relationship afloat. No, there's no fun and friendly banter typical of other sitcoms, no laugh track to alleviate the tension from dry-spell or obnoxious-personal-quirk jokes. Rather, Married is Louie for people living not necessarily unhappily ever after, but bored and complacent ever after. Every other scene will either make you squirm in your seat from second-hand embarrassment, or make you feel as cozy as snuggling up on your couch at home.
And Faxon knows this. Here, he talks about the reality of the show, the ups and downs of marriage IRL, and how he captures that with his on-screen wife, Greer.
So I enjoyed the pilot but it also made me kind of uncomfortable.
That’s good! I think discomfort is a good thing.
What peaked your interest about the show?
Initially, the honesty. It felt like the truest representation of marriage that I had seen in a long time. Certainly marriage on network TV looks at it in kind of a different way but this, being cable and on FX, I had a completely different perspective on it. It's the real version of marriage; it’s the highs and the lows. It’s the bickering and the sparring that you have, as well as the love and the best friendship. I can speak from experience; this felt an exact replica of what I'm going through in my life, which is wonderful and difficult all at the same time.
When you’re filming a scene of situation you've gone through in your real life marriage, does that make you more connected or a little more hesitant and more vulnerable?
More connected. It just gives you a little bit more color, a little bit more perspective, a little bit more information in sort of making choices for your character.
You and Judy Greer, your characters seem so lived-in. How did you work on your chemistry?
Judy and I first met while we were shooting The Descendants. Then we spent a lot of time together during different Q&As and panels and parties during the awards season, so we had a nice base when we first started shooting. But Judy is exceptionally good at what she does and she also has the uncanny ability to make everything feel very effortless and very natural and very easy, and so it’s hard to fight that in a sense. You just slide right into it because she makes it feel so relaxed in a way.
I’ve been very fortunate in terms of the women I've had a chance to work. With Dakota in Ben and Kate, it was the same sort of thing, it felt very easy to just slide right into a brother and sister relationship. Working with Judy felt similar in that maybe you haven’t known them for a long time, but you feel like you've spent a lot of your life with them.
What sort of arc do your characters go through in the season? So far, the pilot really comes from your character's point of view while Judy's is a bit of a mystery.
The pilot episode exemplifies the issue that we’re having, which is that we are disconnected, that we are spending so much of our lives dealing with the schedules of our children, taking care of them. For me, I’m a freelance graphic designer; I'm trying to find work when I can, so what is sacrificed is our relationship. That disconnect that exists between us is the core of what the show centers on.
Judy’s character wants more help at home, she wants more of a partner in her dealing with all the kids and always feeling like she’s the bad cop in situations. My character is wanting something more, he's feeling like his life didn't turn out they way he thought. He doesn't regret his choices, he's just feeling discontent with where he is. I think that exists in marriage. You go through these things where you become so preoccupied with everything else that forget to check in with your partner in crime.
It sounds like a mid-life crisis.
Yeah, absolutely. They’re trying to figure out what it is they’re needing and as the season goes on, they get a little bit more clarity of what it is, despite their misguided attempts and struggle to find it.
As someone who's won an Oscar for writing, did you have any input on the script?
Andrew Gurland, who created the show, was so welcoming to the prospect of that and I was the one who said that I wanted to focus on the character and getting that right before taking on more responsibility. But also, the scripts that were coming out were in such good shape and so polished that I didn’t ever feel any kind of need or desire to screw any of it up.
Considering the subject matter, are you ready for all the thinkpieces that this show will inspire?
[Laughs.] I mean, if the show makes people talk and have conversations and laugh and also be uncomfortable, all the better. TV, films, books, anything that lives in the creative space—part of the wonders of it is that you can form an opinion about something and talk to your friends about it. So I welcome it.
Tara Aquino is the Pop Culture editor, who's also now terrified of marriage. She tweets here.