This review contains spoilers
1.7 Sex Fest
After last week’s excellent episode exploring the nature of addiction and making up for past indiscretions, we’re back to the pursuit of love once again as Marc recounts when he experienced the six stages of a relationship over the course of a weekend, or just under twenty minutes for us viewers. The six stages are: courtship, romance, disillusionment, distress, reconciliation and commitment, which is different from the stages of relationships the twice-divorced Marc had experienced so far: meet, struggle and destroy.
The relationship is initiated by a fan of Marc’s, an avid podcast listener who takes it upon herself to email him a picture of her vagina inviting him to a ‘sex fest’ with her whilst he’s in Phoenix to perform at a comedy festival. It was been well established that Marc has a tenancy to sleep with female fans in previous episodes so there was little doubt that he would respond favourably to the invitation, although he still consults with his assistant Kyle, who alerted him to the email, and friend and fellow festival attendee Dave Anthony. So before he’s even met this mystery women, who’s in her twenties, he’s shared the intimate picture with two of her friends. What follows is his experience going through the six stages of the relationship with Jen (Nora Zehetner) over the course of his stay at the festival.
Even with the pursuit of sex/love being a fairly dominant theme in the series so far (likely the case for most single people of Marc’s age I’m sure) the episode manages to give a nice spin on it with the framing of the episode in that it works in the six stages very well indeed.
The fact that the creative team manage to go through the six stages in such an effective way in under twenty minutes is rather impressive, each stage is given enough time to establish itself and differentiate itself from the others. As such, the episode plays with the conventional three act structure, although there is certainly set-up and conflict as well as a resolution of sorts.
Nora Zehetner is great in the role of Jen, striking the right balance of assured confidence and unhinged insecurity that makes her an ideal mirror of Marc’s personality. People with such similar personality traits will inevitably have moments where they drive one another crazy but that will make for great viewing as the series progresses.
The episode does a great job of capturing the excitement and frustration involved in new relationships incredibly well and the humour elicited from the exchanges between Maron and his friends and him clearly getting a different experience than he had expected results in a decent amount of laughs. As is commonplace with the series, the focus is very much in ensuring the situations portrayed are done so in a way that, whilst exaggerated, has its basis in truth, and therefore ensures that they’re relateable.
It doesn’t quite reach the heights of last week’s episode and I feel that’s going to be a tricky instalment to match in terms of quality. All episodes in the series have had many standout moments but last week’s was the only one where all the elements came together in a such a way that shows the brilliance and indeed the potential of the show. This episode, whilst inferior to its predecessor is certainly up there with the best of the series and is the one that will no doubt have the biggest impact on the tone of the show going forward.
For listeners to the podcast, the introduction of Jen is certainly significant and will no doubt mark an end to the episodes dominated by random encounters with women. Whilst on the surface this shared similar plot points – hooking up with a random fan and the emotional conflict of new relationships – but even those unfamiliar with the private life of the protagonist outside of the show should realise this is more than a passing thing, particularly given the fact that the next episode is titled Jen Moves to L.A. No doubt we’ll get to see the commitment stage of the relationship continue next week, with guest star Aubrey Plaza presumably giving Marc some insight on how to relate to a girl in her twenties.
Read Glen’s review of the previous episode, Sponsor, here.
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