Generally, I have mixed feelings about works of fiction that are “inspired by true events.” We’ve seen it done in Hollywood a million times over, adapting a heroing war tale or constructing an inspirational biopic for the big screen, but more often than not these stories have taken enough creative liberties with the source material that it can stand alone as a piece of art without any previous knowledge of the trueness of the previous event. It happens in television too of course, especially with writers who are the creative centerpieces of their respective shows, since Seinfeld, C.K., Dunham, et al clearly draw upon their own experiences for storytelling inspiration.
Obviously, Maron is guilty of this as well, but it’s impossible to blame Marc for this because IFC green-lit the show because he had so many weird and interesting stories to tell. But sometimes, reality and fiction don’t always clash, leaving honest, funny real-life accounts partially empty on the show, as Maron dealt with for much of the first half of Season One by force-feeding different jokes and scenarios (one of my creative writing professors always told us that just because something actually happened doesn’t, in it self, make it an interesting story). So naturally, when Maron introduced a very personal and detailed real-life account about his now-fiance last week, I was left skeptical on how it would play out, but the show’s fresh prospective on the encounter allowed for the best episode to date. The growth Maron has shown, almost literally getting better with each episode, has allowed me to curb my criticisms of the show’s POV and keep a more open mind.
Now that I’ve buried the lead, let’s get to “Jen Moves to LA,” which, like most Maron episode titles, cannot get more literal, as Jen from last week’s “Sex Fest” relocates to Los Angeles for the purposes of her job as a behavioral modification instructor for autistic kids, but of course in Marc’s world, she’s coming down to stalk him. We know Marc is self-centered, but at least he’s not entirely without justification. She has, after all, shown many clear signs of stalker-ism in the very recent past (after e-mailing Marc saying that she’s not a stalker, Marc replies “That’s the first thing every stalker says.”). Marc immediately follows up the e-mail with a phone call to lay down the law; she’s creeping him out and stay away. Mere seconds later she comes knocking on his door (also not helping her stalker case), but instead of answering, Marc hides and let’s Kyle answer, which sparks an unlikely friendship between the two, with Jen even moving into Kyle’s place while she apartment hunts.
Eventually (through his personal spy Kyle, of course), Marc finds out about Jen’s true motivation for moving to LA, which makes him feel like a dick. Then he discovers that she’s moved on from him rather quickly, dating another comedian named Brian Burkman, a hack who mostly does impressions (“What’s his point of view? Who is this guy, really?” “Oh, he does a Walken. Never seen that before.”).
The very Marc thing about this whole situation (yes, that’s “Marc” as a verb) is that he doesn’t even care that Jen is sleeping with this guy. He’s so self-absorbed and insecure that all he wants to know is if she thinks he is funny. Marc’s pent up anger and resentment (shocker) comes to a head in Kyle’s apartment, where he confronts Jen about Burkman, but the argument eventually turns, as the two dive much deeper into their unorthodox and dysfunctional relationship. Jen scolds Marc for being too self-involved, Marc questions how long before she resolves her daddy issues and takes off. The scene was so captivating that I was left speechless for a moment, which is a place I never thought Maron would take me. As odd as it seems and as forced as it could come across on the surface, somehow the show makes us believe that these two honestly care about each other. Their connection, however brief so far, feels oddly real when it could have come across as impulsive and silly. And then they have sex on Kyle’s bed before Kyle even got to have sex on it. Poor Kyle.
If conventional wisdom serves me right, this means that Jen is going to become a permanent fixture on the show, which I am more than fine with (I hope Kyle is featured more regularly, too). She brings out some of the best in Marc, and I look forward to many more agonizingly uncomfortable fights.
– The B-story involves Marc and Kyle and their inability to be friends outside of their work environment. As Marc puts it, he only needs two friends: the main guy, and the guy who he goes to when the drains the main guy. He show’s glimpses of being a good friend, like trying to show Kyle how to interact with women before hilariously screwing it up himself just seconds later, but it’s mostly on his terms. Kyle, feeling used, leaves his post as Marc’s unpaid assistant to be a street corner sign-holder for a Korean BBQ joint, but Marc eventually apologies and makes it up to him by appearing in his web series “Monster Roommate.”
– Aubrey Plaza was Marc’s guest in the garage this week, and she claims to be nothing like the characters she portrays (spoken in her famous monotone delivery, which she defends by saying “I know that sounded sarcastic but I’m being serious). Kyle, like most pop culture-obsessed 20-somethings, has an enormous crush on Plaza and hilariously tries to impress her while taking her and Marc’s photo.
– Marc’s advice on dating: Stop treating women like artifacts and connect. They are horny, angry, bitter, and scared just like us.
– Marc, having a “grown-up day,” rails against the Millennials in his podcast monologue: “When did young people get so entitled? They will be humbled!” Take it easy on us, Marc. We’re just trying to make the most of our limited opportunities.
– Apparently, sitting in a bathtub with your brand-new jeans on will not ensure a better fit.