After a week off from Marc and Jen's young romance, we open on the two of them evidently living together. Except they're not — they're just watching a cooking show, playacting domesticity, and, as Jen says, living in Marc's life and visiting hers occasionally. Marc looks comfortable, until he learns Jen is getting booted from her apartment and needs a place to stay. Marc has an empty bedroom that could house her stuff if it wasn't currently supporting a yoga mat. Marc, afraid for his dusty yoga mat and his crusty independence, starts freaking out. And it lasts the entire episode.
Marc ends up feeling okay with Jen temporarily moving in as long as they both agree that, after only six weeks together, this is a bad idea. As Marc and Jen trudge through the house Jen's been renting a room in, Jen blankly muses that she's never sure if her silent, glaring roommates want to rape her or just kill her. Marc agrees — "Is that racist or reasonable?"
Jen is the empress of messiness. Her room is like the house in Jumanji after those living vines overtake everything, only with clothes and cardboard boxes and half-eaten burritos doing the overtaking. Marc is creeped out, but he likes Jen enough to put his head down, view it as "adorable hoarding," dispose of Jen's ancient unfinished meals, and pack the rest up. Jen's stuff immediately colonizes Marc's yoga mat sanctuary.
Adam Scott stops by the podcast so Maron has someone to vent to. Scott’s perspective: Maybe Marc is being unnecessarily nutso and everything will be fine with Jen. Maron is into this perspective. Scott ends up saying what all the podcast guests this season must have been thinking: "Are you gonna interview me, or …?" Aubrey Plaza should’ve warned you, man.
Later, at the Den of Love & Psychosis, Jen is high off a successful day at her job teaching autistic children (“Yayyy me!"). Unfortunately Marc can’t engage with that at the moment since he’s convinced Jen tricked him about the whole getting evicted thing. “Yes, Marc, you’re right, I am just some crazy, manipulative scam artist,” Jen spits, justifiably livid with this exhausting man. “This is all just a long con; I am in it for the cats." And the acid kicker: “You have problems, dude.”
Marc drives Jen away with his crazy. No matter how many times you can envision this having happened in his life, it’s still not something he enjoys. But he's addicted. "I don't know why, but I just can't tell if somebody loves me unless I can make them cry. I know it's sick, but it's like foreplay for emotionally unhealthy people." Like Maron’s best comedy, it’s funny because it’s so transparently about something he genuinely struggles with.
Marc finds Jen at a hipster beer tasting/house party. Jen’s college buddies haul Marc outside, where he starts getting some dirt on Jen and gets another chance to do some girlfriend-venting. Marc’s terrified about how many murder shows Jen watches (“I dunno if she thinks I’m gonna kill her, or she’s gonna kill me …”, plus some garbage about Jen playing video games "like a dude." Marc learns Jen doesn’t feel that comfortable being honest with him. Because he’s a human explosion.
The realness of the fights between Marc and Jen is well-done, but JEEEESUS is it uncomfortable. It's borderline impossible to keep track of all the emotional chutes and ladders and who to root for at any given second. Once the yelling and the slicing remarks kick in, it's as shitty as watching your own parents verbally eviscerate each other. I can imagine people getting ready to push the eject buttons on their couches; I’d almost rather send myself sailing through the ceiling than to play audience to this realistic meltdown.
A distraught neighbor, hands curiously held high in a gesture of surrender, is the half-dozenth person to show up on Marc’s lawn this season. The man is recently widowed and can’t handle hearing the fighting. "I'm not hittin' her — just mutual emotional abuse, everything's cool,” Marc growls. The stranger, beginning to weep, asks Maron if he loves Jen. “It’s an awkward way for her to hear it the first time … yeah, okay, yeah, I do. I love her.” Jen heads inside happy, the man begs Marc to “please be kind,” and the Mexican angel’s intervention concludes. Jen and Marc celebrate their love, acknowledge their mutual crazy, and buckle up for the future.
One last monologue later (“love is crazy, and I’m just gonna have to accept that”) and the first season of Maron is a wrap. Marc removes the headphones, has a private thought for once, and it's over. These ten episodes were often tonally scattered, but also weirdly, endearingly cohesive. There were a handful of pretty high highs (“Dead Possum,” “A Real Woman”), fairly few real lows (“Sex Fest”), and enough promise — enough of a specific voice not found elsewhere on TV — to have me hoping for a second season. What’s the word, IFC? Are we doin' this?
- It's a little early to start making requests for a season two we might never see, but: More cats? Is that feasible?
- "It's nice we have the same taste in books we haven't read." Funny on its own, and also a nice callback to all the times Maron has mentioned the unread books spread throughout his garage.
- In honor of Maron's 400th (four...hundredth!) episode of the WTF podcast, Slate's David Haglund, a formidable Maronologist, put together a a list of ten great episodes for newbies. If you've been enjoying this season of Maron but have yet to take a dip into WTF, go forth. To Haglund's spotless list I'd only add Gallagher (he stormed out after Maron confronted him about bigoted material) and The Onion writer Todd Hanson, who spoke intimately about a nearly successful suicide attempt. Harrowing. You will shed tears.