She’s the consummate co-star, Hollywood’s best friend.
Her roles as the file girl in “What Women Want,” Lucy in “13 Going on 30,” and Kitty Sanchez in “Arrested Development” help define her successful career, taking a backseat to leads like Jennifer Garner and Helen Hunt but embracing the part. Recently, she published a memoir, “I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star,” which shows her humbling ability to laugh at herself. But actress Judy Greer makes her first marquee in FX’s new romantic comedy, “Married.”
Greer plays Lina Bowman, a mother of three and wife of one. She and on-screen husband Nat Faxon (“Russ”), who’s professionally looking to regroup from the canceled Fox family comedy, “Ben and Kate,” are quarreling with a drained marriage held together by three daughters and the hope that, some day soon, the sexual spark will reunite.
“Married” is a light, funny portrayal of a married couple — a wife who’s had enough kids for her liking and a husband who would waive the risk of pregnancy in favor of one night of fun. Executive producer and writer Andrew Gurland’s pilot episode, on Thursday, laid this groundwork.
The first scene shows Lina and Russ in bed, Lina reading a vampire novel and Russ coercing Lina into sex. But Lina’s stubborn and tired. She doesn’t budge. Then, Gurland perfectly sets the bar for the couple’s boredom in their relationship. Russ starts masterbating in bed and Lina’s unfazed response is, “You’re shaking the bed,” so he moves to the floor while she sleeps. This excellent scene sets the bar low and suggests there isn’t anything viewers should rule out as a possibility. This is the pilot, an episode about Russ’ upstart relationship with a young, sexy wax technician (Karolin Luna).
Character likability is at issue in the pilot. Russ buys a puppy for the technician (“Isis”), so she throws herself on him at her apartment, which she shares with her mother, and he embraces it. What would it say about Russ to hook up with Isis, even though Lina suggested he find someone to pleasure him? He’s juggling the idea, too. Is it a trick? Does she mean it? Of course, she doesn’t actually want him to sleep around. Russ is confused, but when he throws Isis off of him to answer his wife’s phone call, and then leaves at her beck and call, it suggests that he’d actually prefer to be with Lina, his best friend and confidant, as opposed to some relative stranger.
Lina may not realize it, but she feels the same way. She relies on him, leans on him and needs him at her side. I get the feeling she’s the type of woman who just wants to sleep next to the man she’s most comfortable with. She’d be sad if Russ slept with someone else, but seeing as Russ’ penis makes some of his decisions for him it’ll be interesting to see what happens in this first season. After Isis constantly sexted him from the hospital (mom had a heart attack), he visited her with the intention of getting laid.
Russ has a pair of enabling friends to lead him in, probably, the wrong direction. Jenny Slate will be a fantastic member of this cast, playing the role of Jess, whose marriage isn’t much to brag about either. He can’t even do doggy without a knee brace — and that’s not a sex toy. Brett Gelman plays AJ, the other half of Russ’ friends with whom he meets at a bar on multiple occasions in the pilot episode. “Married” comes off looking like it’ll feature youngster Rachel Eggleston, who plays supposed middle child Maya Bowman. Maya was as busy as her dad this week, mourning the death of pet fish Norman and stealing the secret puppy, which Russ bought for Isis, from her dad’s car.
The pilot episode heavily featured Faxon’s character, so we have yet to meet any of Lina’s friends. We will soon learn more about her, but initially Greer’s character comes off as a cheerful and sweet leading lady — a phrase we’re not used to pinning on Greer.
Her Lina character may well be an excellent combination of some of her best roles. Without much depth yet, Lina seems to be the type of mom who has been there and done that. She and her husband may be on different levels because Lina thinks he can get her pregnant by looking at her, which was another funny one-liner from Gurland’s pilot. Russ tried adapting his sexual advances to her interests. He dressed up like a vampire, but Lina didn’t take the bait — that’s how uninterested she is, at this point.
Kitty Sanchez is probably my favorite character that Greer has played. She’s normally an adorable best friend, a utility character to make viewers smile and laugh. Kitty was a riot, one of the more unique freak shows of “Arrested Development.” Line suits Greer’s ability, but can she carry a show? Neither she or Faxon will overshadow the other, making them a good match; however, I’ll be the first to admit that Faxon seemed to hold back Dakota Johnson as Kate in “Ben and Kate.” Johnson ought to be a star and I’m pretty sure she’s going to be. Greer deserves that, too.
She will first have to prove she can be a leading lady, that she can hold down scenes and steal entire episodes. Importantly, she’ll have to appeal to mothers in the audience to be a success. Lina isn’t an abnormal, complicated character. She’s just a wife-turned-mother, who’s trying to figure out why the world is moving so quickly around her.
Initial impressions are good. It’s all right to be happy for the career co-star.