How sexually blunt can basic cable get?
Answers to this and other adult questions — many you never thought to ask — can be found in the FX channel’s new Thursday comedy block starting at 10 p.m. of “Married” and “You’re the Worst.”
They’re half-hour single-camera relationship rambles of people with few compunctions about saying or doing outrageous things.
“Married” pairs appealing but oft-misused stars Judy Greer (“Arrested Development”) and Nat Faxon (“Ben and Kate”) as parents (of three screaming girls) who have lost that lovin’ feeling. Russ (Faxon) is the show’s focus, so he’s followed out to bars obsessing about their sexual drought to his hooker-hiring divorced friend (Brett Gelman) and “grandfather husband”-avoiding gal pal (Jenny Slate, of the indie film “Obvious Child”). This leads to ear waxing, puppy buying and other vignettes in each episode’s snowballing comedy of errors amid the angst.
Ambling adventures take a single tack in “You’re the Worst.” There’s equal opportunity here between stars Aya Cash and Chris Geere, each playing a walking me-me-me id that no one should get involved with. So these two “worst” Angelenos wind up together, grateful for a “one-night thing so we can reveal all this awful about ourselves.”
He’s a shaggy British writer with a hillside house where he can “contemplate the futility of everything”; she’s a shaggy showbiz publicist who’s never met a situation she couldn’t bluster or steal her way through. Their one night soon lurches into several. They’ll try being toxic together.
Awful people can be awfully funny, as fans found in “Seinfeld,” then with Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” going further.
But FX really pushes the edges in these pilot half-hours, and in next week’s episodes, with comedy that renders more naughty and callous than necessary.
Not to mention copycat, in shows that sometimes feel less like time-slot companions than separated-at-birth clones. Both with all that master-of-my-domain activity, both quickly invoking cocaine — could they find nothing more creative to telegraph their daring than these same old dirty deeds?
Where “Curb” framed its protagonist’s behavior in acute situations against shrewd personalities, “Married,” in particular, is one-note with character tone: clueless people acting heedlessly. “You’re the Worst” exudes some charm (Cash is rich indeed) but can’t keep from overstepping, either. (There’s one especially tasteless Iraq death joke.) It’s saved by relationship detail and human vulnerability that “Married” utterly misses.
Bottom line: Now you know what you’re getting into.