A Real Woman
Gina Gershon and Marc Maron.
How quickly The Misadventures of Marc Maron morphed into The Shirtless Post-Coitus Marc Maron Show. Even after last week’s “my dick’s been through wars” epiphany, Marc’s still trying to make it work with women half his age. He’s baffled by a new twenty-something woman who, like so many city-dwellers her age, claims to be an Über-freelancer despite working in a coffee shop (“I specialize in all design — landscape, interior, jewelry, sound”). Marc doesn’t want her to stay over, but he wanted her to want to stay over. Never forget how much Marc needs to be liked.
Back at the coffee shop where the nonromantic tryst began, the barista/specialist hammers in how casual the sexual experience was for her. She keeps emphasizing how little she and Marc have in common, asking him if he wants to catch a Wolf’s Nest reunion show. “I didn’t realize they’d broken up, or that they were … a band,” he says, shell-shocked. The generational gap widens to an uncrossable span when the conversation gets so awkward that she won’t continue unless it’s by text messaging. Maron doesn’t know how to relate to young people, but he constantly wants to date them.
Gina Gershon, a fellow human who experienced the sixties, also happens to be in this coffee shop, playing a woman called Alexa. Like the cat-man in the premiere, she recognizes Marc’s voice. “You’re the guy on NPR who talks about the comedy stuff and the cats.” Brilliantly handled — Maron could’ve written this line in a much more flattering light. (The plot eventually reveals Alexa was more familiar with Marc than she let on, but it was nice while it lasted.) A dinner date at Marc’s house is arranged — no Indian food, no pasta.
Marc, doing some convincing-looking chef fu, gives his mustache a brush-down before greeting Alexa at his door. As they dine and hit it off, it’s clear these two could really keep each other old and curmudgeonly, united in how stymied they are by America’s youth. “This is usually the point in the evening when my date tries to convince me to read The Hunger Games,” Marc admits. Despite Real Maron’s established preference for younger women (he’s very serious with a late twenty-something-year-old), TV Maron is relishing this attempt at what he calls an age-appropriate relationship.
After the age-appropriate, over-before-10 p.m. sex, Marc learns Alexa has a “little boy.” Marc immediately starts distancing himself — “oh, that must be difficult … for you.” At this point I’m kind of hoping Alexa only romanced Marc so her son could meet him. That would be a welcome piece of writing. And then that’s exactly what’s happening.
Before that faceoff goes down, we’ve got a WTF podcast interlude. Interviewing Mark Duplass, Maron’s a little unfocused. “So, Duplass, well … French. Now, wait, are — do you, what, does someone … speak French? Anybody? Do you visit France?” In an episode comprised entirely of great performances, Duplass turns in a candidate for the series’s most naturalistic performance so far — it doesn’t even matter that he’s only here to riff on the episode’s plot with Marc. I imagine the extended podcast scene makes it easier for the guys to slip into an honest vibe; this feels real and unscripted. It’s a shame the scene has to end.
Alexa’s immense house has a gate and ivy. The neighborhood’s got a golf cart crossing. This life is as different from Marc’s as the barista’s. But there’s no time to ruminate on that — Marc has an imminent guest-starring spot on The Malcontent Men Hour, a podcast for “adolescent misanthropes.” Zachary, not a little boy but a 14-year-old, is a Maron protege, down to the hair, glasses, intensity, and dickish manner. (But he also looks like Zac Efron a little.) The recording gets as real as the realest installments of WTF, touching on Maron’s loneliness and Zachary’s specific virginity-loss fantasy. Things fall apart when Marc learns Zach’s mom isn’t actually divorced. At all. In any sense.
Marc confronts an unrepentant Alexa, who actually never hid her wedding ring and was never looking for anything other than a way to connect with her son. Maron is freaked out at this brand of deception. “Oh, c’mon, I didn’t exactly stalk you. You don’t go to the bathroom without announcing it on Twitter,” Alexa says. Somehow none of this makes Marc feel great about himself. Neither does the inattentive asshole husband who shows up after lawyering the shit out of something.
In the coda, Marc has resigned himself to younger women again, even if it means that futureless “wanna come over and bone?” dalliances are all it’ll ever add up to. And he’s hanging out with Zachary, giving the boy not necessarily a good influence but an influence he can connect with. It’s a shame the half-hour is up. This is my favorite Maron yet, an archetype for future episodes to aspire to. Although I’ll be okay if we don’t focus on Marc’s love life every week.
• I’ll be sorry to see Bobcat Goldthwait out of the director’s chair next week. This was his third consecutive episode, and it felt like he and Maron were hitting a strong stride as collaborators.
• “I hope she hasn’t lived the exact same life as me, ‘cause then our second date’s gonna have to be couples counseling.”
• Marc does an actual double take when the barista watches Alexa leave and tells Marc, “I’m totally hit that.”
• Marc has said legumes twice on this show now.
• “Make it about me” isn’t just a perfect one-off Maronian phrase anymore; there’s potential for it to become a series catchphrase.
• I don’t think I’ve made a single Louie comparison in five weeks, so now I get to spend my credit on this: “What is Shabu-Shabu?” totally reminds me of how Louis C.K. interprets young-people-speak in a memorable coffee shop scene.