David Caspe made a critical smash comedy at ABC when he created "Happy Endings" and nursed it through three excellent seasons (despite struggling ratings). Now he's trying to do it again -- this time with a bigger audience -- over at NBC, re-enlisting wife and "Happy Endings" star Casey Wilson as well as "Endings" guest star Ken Marino (who's not unfamiliar with hailed shows going unwatched, after being a big part of "Party Down") and Tim Meadows ("SNL"). All four sat down for NBC's panel discussion at the TCAs, along with a few co-stars and executive producer Seth Gordon, to shed some light on another show about altered expectations.
"Marry Me" will feature all the jokes America didn't laugh at on "Happy Endings." Wait...
Many critics danced around a central theme with their questions at Sunday's TCA panel: "Is this show going to be as good as 'Happy Endings?'" After a few critics asked about how Wilson's new character seems a lot like Penny, another critic was bold enough to ask Caspe how he planned to make "Marry Me" as creatively satisfying as "Happy Endings" without losing the general audience needed for big ratings (though not quite as pointedly).
"I guess the weird [jokes] you're talking about, in the room, are called 'one-percenters,'" Caspe said, "where you're sitting there and it's making all of us in the room laugh late at night and we're like, 'Is anyone else going to think this is funny?' And we want to have those jokes in the show also, but you just have to balance them with maybe also stuff that's more relatable. And I do really want this show to be very relatable and feel like a real couple and their friends and their parents and stuff. So I have to keep an eye on not putting in jokes that are for like 150 people, which occasionally happens."
"But you got to put some of those jokes in," Marino said.
"Yes, we have to put those in, too," Caspe said. "So it's a matter of doing both. I will always err on just putting in what I think is funny and then hopefully other people do and that's sort of what we did with 'Happy Endings' and that's what we'll do with this show. [...] We blew an act in 'Happy Endings' on a joke where I think either Penny or Brad clapped and said, 'Congratulations, you pitched an area.' Which is specifically writers' room speak for pitching a [joke about] not being able to come up with a pitch for the actual joke, but just the area for the joke. So it was basically a joke for 120 people."
"Did that make it into the show?" Marino asked.
"It made it into the show."
"And that's why the show got canceled," Marino concluded.
"And if you don't like it, fuck off."
Star Casey Wilson said the above after a lengthy discussion regarding the use of the word "fuck" in the pilot (which is bleeped out for network airings). Eventually, the cast and creator were simply defending themselves as people who swear.
"And if you don't like it, fuck off," Wilson said. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding." But the floodgates were open, and the eager panel jumped on the statement.
"Except not any of you," Caspe added quickly. "The general fuck off, not to anyone in this room. We would love you all to fuck on."
"Fuck on," Marino agreed. "Let's all fuck on today."
"Fuck on the stage, whichever you want," Caspe said.
"Fuck with each other," Wilson said.
Gosh. That is a lot of f-bombs for a network show.
Star Casey Wilson and Creator David Caspe are married, but "Marry Me" is not based on their story.
"Marry Me" focuses on a couple who love each other very much, but can't seem to overcome some of the day-to-day awkward coincidences and bungles many couples on TV cruise past -- beginning with the complicated task of planning a wedding. But despite the creator and star being married, "Marry Me" is not auto-biographical.
Women aren't the only ones who freak out over wedding planning.
While many shows focus on brides-to-be who can't stand the pressure of wedding planning, "Marry Me" is going to go the other way with it and shed some light on what's stressful for men -- hopefully outside the tired trope of "one sexual partner for the rest of my life."
"When I got married, I sort of went off the rails a lot," Marino said. "So I'm assuming that we'll explore the male side of it as well. I don't think it's just for going off the rails isn't just for ladies anymore."
Caspe quickly noted, though, the show won't focus solely on wedding prep and bridezille (or groomzilla) jokes.
"It really is not going to be a wedding-centric show, so hopefully we won't run into the problem of trying to find fresh jokes about weddings. It will all be fresh jokes about airplanes," Caspe joked.
Ken Marino is happy he's just not playing a dick anymore.
Marino may not be a household name (unless its preceded by "Dan"), but you're likely to recognize the David Wain favorite from "Wet Hot American Summer," "Party Down," "Wanderlust" or "Role Models" (or "Bad Milo!" if you're an indie horror fan). The character actor bounces back and forth between playing lovable buffoons ("Party Down") to shallow dicks ("Role Models"). He's apparently tired of the latter.
"I was excited to play this part, because lately I've been playing a lot of dicks in things," Marino said. "And so it was nice to play a guy who's not necessarily a dick. And when I read the script, I was very excited because it was just a fun part and I was excited to be working with Casey and I was a big fan of 'Happy Endings.' So it was a really great get for me."