Maron ends its first season — a surprisingly strong one that gained plenty of momentum in the back-half — by airing back-to-back new episodes to close it out. The showing doesn’t exactly work as a two-parter considering the non-parrelled themes and differing styles between the two, but the mishmash contradiction makes for an interesting and memorable way to end what might be the show’s only season.
“Projections” was by far the most experimental episode this season. It reminded me very much of a Louie-type arc in the way it defied typical story-telling conventions for a half-hour comedy. It also, surprisingly enough, had some Mad Men-esque shades of stilted point of view that was geniunely surprising to watch unfold. While I don’t think this episode came anywhere near as close to “pulling it off” as those two classics have in the past, it still got some bonus points from me for trying.
Marc meets up with an old buddy from college (played by Eric Stoltz), who is now a hot-shot Hollywood director mostly known for making shitty movies that make a lot of money, and he wants Marc to play an upcoming role as an idiot homeless person named Bobo the Hobo. In real time, the majority of the lunch is spent between the old friends hashing things out and arguing whether or not Marc should take the part. While his friend is completely comfortable with his status as a successful-yet-creatively-inferior Hollywood type, Marc has a sense of entitlement and artistic integrity, a standard that’s both helped him and held him back over the years.
Marc has done things his way for a long time, which is to say he pissed people off with his standup and radio gigs for the better part of 30 years before finding some popularity through his own alt-niche much later in life. He’s never been good at compromise, especially not now that he (more or less) has what he’s been looking for all along. As he starts to weigh the pros and cons of “selling out” his image, he imagines different versions of himself had he opened up and compromised more as a younger man. First he invisions himself as dad texting at the table with his family, cursing at his teenage son, showing endearing affection to his younger daughter, and passive-aggressivly bickering with his wife about how they aren’t rich but still have enough money not to worry, even if Marc gave up on his standup dream in this reality to take a boring desk job. But the day dreams don’t stop there. Committment has always been an issue for Marc, so what if he found companionship in a gay relationship? While in this projection Marc shows signs of his typical self, this no-frills relationship seems to suit him well, especially considering some of the baggage that comes with his real-life flings. Finally he imagines himself as a philisophical homeless man, the type of character he’d like to portray in the movie.
In one way or another, Marc could have turned out like any one of his projections, depending on the path he took. Maybe Marc’s integrity is simply a shield he uses for not being as successful as he wished, but in the end, Maron wouldn’t be Maron if he didn’t do things in a Maron way.
“Mexican Angel,” the potential series finale, is much more typical Maron episode in which Jen (now Marc’s full-fledged girlfriend) is getting evicted from her place and is looking to crash with Marc while she gets back on her feet. At first, Jen appears to be bullying Marc into allowing her to move in, using guilt tactics to infringe upon Marc’s boundaries and space, but we have to remember that this is being told from Marc’s point of view, who has proven to be irrational and impulsive when it comes to things like this.
Basically, the episode unfolds as a tale of who is crazier. Sure, Jen appears to be hoarder who may or may not have purposely left her housing situation to move in with Marc, but Marc’s the one doing the detective work behind her back and following her to parties. For most normal people, two such extreme personalities would clash so much that it would never be able to work in the long run, and indeed, these two have violently gone head-to-head a handful of times already in their very brief courtship (in some escalating shouting scenes that rank among the best the show has ever done). But oddly enough, these two pulling against each other so hard only causes them to love one another more. Maybe that’s how true love works, as something so threating and scary and crazy that it transcends all conventions.
While Maron may have started off as a generic comedian-playing-himself style sitcom, it gained its voice more and more as the weeks went on. Marc may be limited in what he can accomplish as an actor, but there’s no denying the fact that he’s a fascinating figure with plenty of stories to tell, and if he stays within his wheelhouse, he’s been a passable performer and even quite good at times. The show is far from revolutionary, but it definitely brought some fun and life to a lighter slate of summertime TV.
– “I’m done with that asshole.” — Marc on a Twitter feud with a nine-year-old.
– I forgot to mention Marc’s chef projection, an outlet where he’s socially allowed to be pretentious about his craft, although he doesn’t seem to be very happy about it.
– Marc vents his woman problems to his podcast guest Adam Scott, who is confused as to why he’s not being interviewed.
– Marc keeps getting mistaken for Jen’s dad at the party, fitting considering his weakness for women with unresolved daddy issues. Jen even throws out a “you’re embarrassing me.”