Maron has struggled out of the gates in its first season by falling into sitcoms rhythms that were far too familiar for such an interesting, opinionated, passionate, and strange man. Everyone wanted to compare it to Louie, simply because of the begrudging-comedic-with-a-
Marc sets up the episode’s conceit with a podcast monologue: He’s recently read about the six stages of romantic relationship — courtship, romance, disillusionment, distress, reconciliation, and commitment — and how it usually takes a couple several years to reach all of these benchmarks. Marc is no stranger to this, of course, having been twice divorced, but upon further evaluation, he realizes that he’s accomplished the remarkable feat of running through this gauntlet in the matter of a weekend.
Stage One starts when Kyle (the intern), while opening up Marc’s email, comes across a blunt message from a fan that states “I think you’re hot and want to have sex with you” to go along with a picture of her vagina (which, as Marc points out, took a lot of time and effort considering the lighting). Though Marc’s partying days are behind him, he can’t help but be intrigued by the offer, going back and forth in his head whether or not she’s a crazy person or some post-feminist free spirit who’s just into having some casual sex. The deliberation doesn’t last long, “It’s definitely a bad idea…I’m gonna do it.”
When Marc arrives in Phoenix, the girl approaches Marc in the lobby to initiate Stage Two (Romance, if you’re keeping track). Her name is Jen, and much to Marc’s satisfaction, she’s very pretty. She comes on strong, convincing Marc to delay his check-in since he’s all booked up for Sex Fest, and they retreat to her filthy hotel room to have an equally-filthy good time.
The regret on Marc’s face begins to show the second he wakes up from his post-sex nap, and it only gets worse following three quick offenses that put her remarkably close to Crazy Town. First, she jokes about having crushed Ambien into his drinking water. Then Marc walks in on her peeing (“Oh, we’re there already?”), and if the situation wasn’t weird enough, she goes on to profess her love for murder shows. The creepy vibe continues into Stage Three, when Jen joins Marc in checking in and asks the concierge for a second key to his room. She not only suggests that she cancel her room to move in with Marc, but she remembers oddly specific things from the podcast, and while Marc is on one level flattered, he’s mostly concerned about the disillusionment forming, but his worries temporarily pass when she starts to go down on him (“which episode did I talk about this?”)
Stage Four arrives with a fury, as Jen is up in the hotel room freaking out about her lost earring before Marc hangs up on her. She’s not having any of that, calling him back immediately to chew him out, which is enough for Marc to come back to the room and help her look for it. Perhaps realizing the error of his ways, Marc tries to make a clean break, saying he can’t deal with this shit anymore (along with a very Maron-esque follow up, “so we cool?”). Only Marc, like many of us, desperately wants what he can’t have, so when Jen starts flirting with other comedians in the lobby, Marc approaches her and apologizes, which sets up Stage Five, and they bang again. The bliss doesn’t last long when she realizes that Marc has been sharing her vagina pic. (Marc’s comic friend Dave Anthony comments in the lobby “Everything matches.”)
The two fight again, leaving Marc to sleep through the night alone. With some time to reflect, he begins to get nostalgic about their very brief relationship, hilariously remembering all the good times they had together, which was mostly sex (with sprinkles of Marc acknowledging the camera with a nod or a thumbs up). He meets up with her later that morning to apologize once again, saying that the Sex Fest wasn’t as easy as he thought it was going to be. Marc, after all, is a very sensitive man, and he couldn’t help but fall for this woman just a little bit, even though all the evidence was screaming for him not to. He grabs her hand, and they start to have normal, everyday small talk for the first time, leaving a big question mark regarding the sixth stage.
What makes the story all the more compelling (and possibly spoiler-y) is that, like most of Maron’s stories, this one is based completely in fact, but even more interesting still is that the Jen character is based on Jessica, who became Marc’s girlfriend, moved in with him, and as of earlier this month, became his fiance. So, clearly, the six stages of a romantic relationship was no fluke for these two, no matter how unorthodox the origin was.
– Having been in destructive relationships before, Marc just assumed that there were only three stages of a romantic relationship: meet, struggle, destroy.
– Kyle’s brief scene was a welcomed return for the oddball intern, and even though he forwarded himself the vagina email, according to Marc, he has no idea what to do with that sort of information.
– Marc’s reaction to the festival rep not being his Sex Fest partner was laugh-out-loud worthy.
– The B-story involved an international agent wanting to book someone for a Scandinavian tour, and he eventually asks Marc to take part. Although nothing great came out of this, Anthony Jeselnik’s few lines landed well, and Marc’s new unfortunate nickname “The Jewish Viking” works in a weird way.
– “Guys have been sharing pussy pictures since there have been pussy and pictures.” And while Marc came clean about sharing the photo, he feels like he never broke protocol because he didn’t forward it.
– Marc yells at the wake-up call guy because he assumed it was going to be a machine. He apologizes, asks how he is – “fine until you yelled at me.”