While, over the first half of its first season, Maron has displayed some intriguing character work for its protagonist, mostly concerning his angry and conflicted mid-life struggles (derived mainly from a strained relationship with his parents), but the notion of ‘plot’ has been a very loose one to say the least. The show’s fifth episode, “A Real Woman,” may not tread any new sitcom ground in terms of story, but it’s able to bring enough charm and laughs to be its funniest episode to date.
The conceit is simple: Marc has a difficult time committing to an actual relationship ever since the distruction of his second marriage. On one level, it’s really hard to pity Marc when is issue is that he “only” attracts smoking-hot younger women (including Brea Grant, playing the blonde barista). However, it’s still fun to watch him struggle with handling hookup culture (“You didn’t want me to stay, did you?” “No, honestly I didn’t…I wanted you to want to stay, a little bit). As much as he may enjoy it on the surface, Marc can’t do casual. He tries to follow up with her at the coffeeshop the following morning only to stumble into a very awkward encounter.
So it’s fitting that mere seconds later Marc runs into the more “age-appropriate” Alexa (Gina Gershon), who immediately digs into his taste in women as well as his style, but afterwards comes on strong and confident in asking Marc out. Naturally, the two hit it off, because they are the same age and like the blues and hate tapas or whatever, and then they sleep together and it was amazing, but soon after we find out Alexa’s real motive — she has a 14-year old son who does his own podcast and she wants Marc to meet him, and while the sheer mention of kids freaks Marc out, he’s willing to bite the bullet because of his assumed connection with her.
Marc visits here (incredibly huge) house and after a few awkward come-ons to the mom, he’s sent to the kid’s room for the interview (he didn’t introduce himself prior to because he wanted Marc fresh). We find out in short order that the kid is a mini-Marc Maron, hosting his podcast (The Malcontemptment Hour) out of his room, piecing together an introspective monologue, wearing hipster Coke-bottle glasses, even sporting a mascot (a hamster instead of cats). Turns out, what Marc thinks is going to be a light get-to-know-you type talk ends up being an interregation of sorts. After Marc says that he’s happy with his life, the kid quotes back to him his own words: “Legitimacy and contentment are the last stops on the express train to irrelevance and self-parody.” Being on the otherside of the microphone proves to be a more difficult task for Marc than expected. After getting defensive with the kid, he admits that he was just trying to be more like Marc (clearly).
After the initial hostility, the conversation takes a turn for the better, as the two begin to open up to one another about the important stuff, you know, girls, older women, losing your virginity, masturbation. After coming off pompous just a few seconds earlier, the kid lets his guard down, revealing that he doesn’t have many friends and no one really listens to his podcast and, much like Marc, he fears of being alone. Not surprisingly, despite their age difference, the two aren’t as dissimilar as Marc originially feared. Maybe kids aren’t so bad after all (another classic sitcom trope).
Eventually Marc finds out that whatever thing he was feeling between he and Alexa was all a ruse — she’s married and she simply tracked down Marc and used him to connect with her son, thus adding another name to his seemingly endless list of relationship failures. The hyjinx in this episode has been played before, but as Maron slowly starts to gain its voice and Marc Maron the person gets more and more comfortable with Marc Maron the actor, the show becomes more watchable with each passing week.
– This episode was timed well considering Marc’s recent real-life conflicts, as he revealed on WTF that his girlfriend Jessica has issued an ultimatium that he impregnate her or she’ll leave.
– “This is usually the point where my date tries to convince me to read The Hunger Games.”
– Some great stuff with this week’s fictional podcast guest Mark Duplass as he and Marc discuss the idea of meeting Alexa’s kid: “What, you’ve never met a child before?” “Please tell me you told her that you aren’t ready to be a stepfather on the first date.” “From what I can tell, you’ll probably screw it up.”
– Marc to the kid: “Goodluck with everything, and them (his parents).”