Maron episode 1 review: Internet Troll

Review Glen Chapman 7 May 2013 - 07:00

Glen is impressed by Marc Maron's self-titled new sitcom, which delivers one of the most promising openers he's seen for a long time...

This review contains spoilers.

1.1 Internet Troll

“I'm not for everybody.” Anyone who has listened to Marc Maron's podcast or seen his stand-up over the years will certainly recognise this to be true. Indeed, it's something that he seems to have been coming to terms with for some time now, but when he did, his manner and outlook became more optimistic and enabled him to draw pleasure from the positive aspects of his life, of which there are many. Sure as is the case with any neurotic narcissist, there are moments of doubt, but the Marc Maron of today is drastically different from the one we were introduced to when the podcast first started. 

The opening episode finds Maron as someone who's comfortable with their ability as a comedian but disturbed by the reaction to him from an internet troll. The title of the episode obviously indicates this to be the dominant theme of the episode, and it's a pretty ballsy subject to tackle head-on with the opener of a self-titled show and will no doubt open him up to more confrontations with trolls over the coming weeks. 

There's an element of wish fulfilment fantasy as Maron tracks down a persistent troll to their lair and confronts them with his friend and fellow comedian Dave Foley in tow. His inability to let the little things go here produce fantastic results and without giving too much away, it's a credit to Maron that he doesn't go down the obvious path here and paint himself out to be the hero of the situation. 

There's another area of wish fulfilment as Maron fictionalises how he would react if he encountered an ex and their current partner whilst out in public. It's another scene that produces spectacular results and by far the show's most awkward and hilarious moment. 

His ability to make any situation entirely about himself may sound alienating but in fact it's incredibly endearing and relatable. If people are truly honest with themselves they will recognise that at heart we're all narcissists to some degree and it's hard not to take certain situations as a personal insult whether they be incidental like the actions of an ex-partner as they get on with their life or overt like a direct attack from a troll.

There are familiar elements to WTF listeners, like the cat ranch, Boomer and the podcast present in the show but these certainly aren't the main focus. It appears as though they will act as the launching point for each episode and its themes and to justify the presence of guest stars. 

As a long time fan of the podcast, it's immensely pleasing to see that the show has turned out as well as it did. In lesser hands, it could have easily fallen apart but instead it all works incredibly well and we have a slick and well-constructed show with a highly flawed but likeable lead. Maron's performance as an exaggerated version of himself is solid and it certainly doesn't show that as an actor he's relatively inexperienced. 

His naturalistic performance and the format of the show will no doubt draw comparisons to the likes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but in reality it's a very different show to Larry David's creation. There are moments where you squirm at his reaction to situations but he doesn't behave like an out and out sociopath to the extent of David and for the most part the situations are played out in a fairly low key manner. 

It's a show that could have gone wrong, but on the evidence of this opening episode, Marc Maron has put a lot of care and attention into creating a well-written, insightful and funny show that has a hell of a lot of heart and touches on relatable themes. Even so it's a show that won't be for everyone, but then again I don't think that was ever the intention. However, those in tune with Maron's sensibilities will get a lot out of it and hopefully, like the podcast did, it will establish itself as a quality piece of work and bring him a wider audience.

IFC and Marc Maron have a quality show here that stands as one of the more promising opening episodes of a comedy series I've seen for some time.

Read Glen's Top 10 episodes of WTF With Marc Maron, here.

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