TV Club: Married: “The Cruise”

Married successfully resists giving audiences what they want. That’s a simplification—by “audiences,” I mean “lucrative, complacent masses of viewers”—but the whole formula of this series is a the weekly impersonation of a sitcom. Married is a minutely observed, wry drama in sitcom clothes.

Tonight, the show introduces itself with the comforting promise of another standard sitcom setup—Russ’ difficult mother is coming to town for the weekend. And it’s true that, in the course of the episode, all the expected beats are hit—Russ’ mother Sharon (Joanna Cassidy) is impossible to please, talks down to daughter-in-law Lina, is inappropriate around her granddaughters (and her son), and generally acts as the single episode disruptive whirlwind of poor parenting most sitcoms trot out at one point or another. What “The Cruise” does—and what Married does—is ground Sharon’s actions in resolutely human terms that refuse to …

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