The purpose of a pilot is to establish a show’s premise and characters. How to Stay Married‘s pilot did this with ease.
The episode kicks off with Em’s (Lisa McCune) dreaming about playing the Family Feud board game with her family, which then expands to actually become Family Feud: Dream Edition, complete with a Grant Denyer cameo. Grant asks her questions about what she does beyond being a mum and then asks her and Greg (Peter Helliar) the question of what makes a long and happy marriage, and before she gets the chance to answer, her alarm clock wakes her up. As soon as she wakes up, she tells Greg that she wants to go back to work and he’s supportive.
The episode then cuts to Em walking into the kitchen after some time passes with their two daughters, Sophie (Willow Ryan-Fuller) and Chloe (Vivien Turner) eating their breakfast. This scene portrays the cliche of the father struggling to prepare breakfast and lunch for their kids. We are then introduced to Uncle Brad (Phil Lloyd) who is staying with the family as he awaits his unseen girlfriend, Mon, to return from her physiotherapy conference.
After this scene, we are introduced to Greg and Em’s neighbours, Terry (Darren Gilshenan) and Marlo (Nikki Britton). Terry is a former “tree doctor” (arborist) turned “life doctor”. Although Terry is odd, Gilshenan stole every scene he was in.
Greg and Em go their separate ways for the day, with Greg going off to work at Births, Deaths and Marriages and Em going off to her interview at Essa & Price publishing. Clearly Greg hates his job and his co-workers, and hears that there are redundancy packages going around and thinks he’s going to be let go, however he doesn’t get what he wants as his boss keeps him due to having a family to take care of. This turned an obvious cliche on its head, however it was an obvious outcome as it fits the premise. I knew Greg was going to get fired, but the how wasn’t answered just yet. Telling his “regular” to fuck off was the perfect and realistic way for it to happen.
Meanwhile Em goes to her job interview and sees the younger candidates laughing at her original interview outfit and feels intimidated. Running away, only to buy a kimono she thinks will make her look cool. When she gets to the interview, she tries to go to the bathroom beforehand, only to have to rush in. She meets Amir Essa (Michael Denkha) and Audrey Price (Judith Lucy), the owners of the publishing company. Clearly Amir is the “nice guy” and Audrey is the “tough boss”. The interview was the perfect balance of realistic and comedic, especially if you see from the perspective of Em, a stay-at-home mum who is trying to get back into the workforce for the first time in years. The interview ended on a comedic note as she has to leave because she sneeze peed, breaks down on the phone to Greg, and Amir hires her and she falls on the way out.
The episode ends with Greg using his Penis Williams restaurant booking (which he made to unsuccessfully prove a point to Janice earlier) to celebrate Em’s new job and reveals that he was fired from his own, and where it’s also revealed that Mon obviously broke up with Brad. A post-credit scene has Marlo suggest to Terry an obvious slogan for his life doctoring business, “Terry Roach: Life Coach”.
Overall the pilot did its job in establishing the premise, however I felt that the jokes fell a little flat, but as it’s the very first episode and we don’t know the characters yet, I’ll give it a pass.
-The beginning of the episode had a nice inside joke with Chloe asking/point out that Family Feud was cancelled and Grant not answering.
-Greg’s regular at Births, Deaths and Marriages, Janice, has tried to change her name to “Nokia 3210”, “Tanya Plibershite” previously, tries to change it to “Penis Williams” at the start of the episode and tries to change it again to “Libra Fleur” towards the end.
-I wonder if Births, Deaths and Marriages employees really do experience “regulars” like Janice?
-Terry’s life doctoring business motto is, “If you don’t like how things are, change it, you’re not a tree”.
-Brad isn’t sure Guatemala exists.
Best one liners and interactions:
- “Do I look professional?” “Professionally hot!” “Too professionally hot for a job interview?” (Em-Greg-Em)
- “Drag King John Farnham!” (The Essa & Price receptionist on Em’s original interview outfit)
- “Miss Saigon they are waiting for you!” (The Essa & Price receptionist to Em when she is in the toilet)
- “Bradley ‘Buttplug’ Butler, that’s what they called you in school wasn’t it?” “No they didn’t!” “That surprises me” (Terry-Brad-Terry)
- “I’m trying to run a respectable life doctoring business not an AA meeting!” (Terry to Brad)
- “Personally I’d rather poke around in an old woman’s prolapse than use social media” (Audrey Price to Em in the job interview)
- “The last time I saw someone hand drying their underpants was at the Christmas party. I said ‘Amir you’re pissed!’ and I put him in a cab.” (Audrey to Em when she walks in on her in the bathroom hand drying her underwear after she sneeze peed)
- “Audrey may have a sneeze-proof vagina…” (Em to Amir)
- “We just hired a woman who spent most of her job interview drying her underwear in the bathroom, what could possibly go wrong?” (Amir to Em)
- “Truth is like the branch of a tree, sometimes you’ve gotta hold on and hope it won’t break.” “Shouldn’t trust be the branch?” (Terry-Brad)