DAVID BIANCULLI

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ERIC GOULD

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‘Maron’: Left Coast Louie Returns
May 8, 2014  | By Eric Gould
 

It’s spring, and along with the flowers, a couple of weeds in the form of comedy pariahs have returned. On Monday night Louie bloomed after a year-long hiatus. On Thursday, it’s Maron’s turn. The IFC comedy series returns tonight, Thursday, at 10 p.m. ET.

As Marc Maron approaches his second season, he’s got to live with obvious comparisons to his old pal Louis C.K. He’s got a similarly styled half-hour comedy format with a character based on himself. He’s often insulted by strangers and mocked by friends and family. Even Sarah Silverman shows up on both series this year.

And while we’re at it, we could lump him in with all the other comedy anti-heroes, including Larry David and the Bluths from Arrested Development.

So, what does Maron bring to the game that the others don’t?

The Daily Beast recently ran an interesting piece on the fourth season premiere of Louie, summarizing that C.K.’s character, while a loser and a schlub, serves as a moral compass. As he is maligned by those inferior to him or taken for granted by his kids, he generally maintains a steadfast dignity, albeit the suffering brand.

Louie is nothing for us to emulate, but he shows us, to some small degree, how to keep trying despite everything aligned against us.

Maron plays within similar lines, acting badly (human), while trying to maintain a vestige of dignity. He usually proceeds to do a bit of amateur psychoanalysis on himself, via his trademark podcast monologues that made him nationally known and led to the IFC series.

These are usually done with the camera close up, with Maron ranting Lenny Bruce-style, excavating the meaning of his own knee-jerk feelings, usually sticking the landing with some small but jewel-like insight into why we do the things we know we shouldn’t.

Season 2 of Maron finds him where he left off last season: ensconced in a relationship with a younger woman – one that he still isn’t convinced is age-appropriate or the right fit for him.

At the mic of his reenacted WTF podcast inside the garage of his down-beat Hollywood bungalow, he muses on why a younger woman would need to be with an older man and, similarly, why men habitually want them:

“At some point in relationships, you’re just looking to be re-parented, or, parented better than you were originally. And then, at some point, you realize that’s not somebody else’s job.”

The premiere also finds Maron going verite style, similar to Louie’s 2012 skirmish with Jay Leno, showing up in a show within a show, in a staged version of AMC’s The Talking Dead where he quickly becomes the object of host Chris Hardwick's open scorn for trying to increase his exposure by posing as a fan of the show.

In episode two, Sally Kellerman appears as Maron’s Peter Pan mother, who hasn’t grown up herself. (Judd Hirsch appeared as his sponging and critical father last year and will return this year.) No one, especially Maron, can choose his or her parents, and while mom clearly can’t appreciate his career choice as a comic, she still wants to try to make a connection, despite their more comfortable territory of self-absorption.

While it might not be blazing new territory, Maron is doing very well, staying off the mainstream with some smart moments you don’t quite see coming. Maron is quite aware of his own insecurities, which might be at the root of his troubles.

But they’re also what help him, in the end, do the right thing.

 
 
 
 
 
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