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How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 7 + Season 1 Finale

As these two episodes were aired together, I’m going to review them together.

Episode 7 was one of the best of the series as, much like the previous episode, it kept things simple and there was one main plot–Greg’s idea to cut back on screen time.

Ironically Greg comes up with the idea to cut back on screen time whilst he’s reading an article on the harmful effects of screen time on his phone. This is hilarious and realistic, as is the moment when the girls call out Greg and Em on their hypocrisy when the former proposes the idea to them.

To pass the time that screens are no longer taking from them, the family splits into two: Greg and Sophie & Em and Chloe (plus Brad), which I think is another element that made the episode a solid one. Greg is taking Sophie to a party where a boy she has a crush on will be and on the way they get lost and realise how dependent they are on their devices for travelling. Meanwhile, Em and Chloe have a girls day with Brad present by catching yabbies and Em realises how dependent she is on technology when it comes to keeping her children safe.

The episode ends with Greg abandoning his screen time promise by going into Sophie’s friends house to watch TV and with Em and Chloe successfully catching a yabbie that the latter wants to keep as a pet. Overall I felt the ending was realistic as screen time can be given up temporarily but in this day and age, it can’t be forever. Overall this was a solid episode as it touched on a relatable issue that affects everyone and was handled in a realistic way.

The season finale revolves around Greg and Em’s efforts to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. Em’s plans for their anniversary are to stay in the same crummy hotel they stayed in while they were dating, whilst Greg’s anniversary gift to her is “Grem Lager”.

Obviously their plans go awry when the Grem Lager breaks in the suitcase and ruin’s Em’s lingerie, and the motel they’re staying at is shooting an illegal porno movie, which leads to the police busting in on a naked Em in a case of mistaken identity. Meanwhile, Brad helps Terry and Marlo track down an Uber driver who gave them a low rating, whilst he’s searching for love…again.

Brad eventually finds the Uber driver, a Russian woman by the name of Nadia, and Terry and Marlo talk to her to try and figure out why she gave them the low rating. She tells them it’s because of Terry giving her the life coach voucher on the presumption she needed life coaching. Whilst Terry and Marlo are trying to smooth things over, they give her a Turkish Delight ANZAC biscuit, which causes an allergic reaction. Brad ends up saving her life by giving her an Epipen and they connect and get together. Overall I found this subplot to be ridiculous, and Brad taking Sophie’s dating advice unrealistic, however it was good to see Brad finally finding someone.┬áIn regards to Greg and Em’s subplot, I found it all very predictable.

Overall the Season Finale didn’t really feel like a finale until the final moments where Greg and Em perfectly sum up their married life and the show’s characters whilst pretending to pick each other up, and they end their anniversary by enjoying fish and chips with the family, Terry and Marlo, and Nadia. These final moments perfectly summed up and ended the season by fulfilling the premise of the show by displaying how Greg and Em make their 15 year marriage work.

Overall I felt How to Stay Married wasn’t as good a show as I thought it would be, the premise is promising however I felt it was poorly executed for the most part. That being said I welcome any Australian-made show that isn’t a “reality” show. I hope the show improves in the second season if there is one.

 

Stray Observations:

-Brad’s “regular customer” from the Births, Deaths and Marriages office reappears as Terry’s life coach “patient” in episode 7 with her current name being Siri Apple.

-Greg and Em got married on the same day that Saddam Hussein was captured. Depending on the time difference with the capture and when the news of it would have been reported, their wedding day would have been either 13th or 14th December 2003.

Best one liners:

  • “You look like a panda with shiny lips” (Chloe to Sophie on her make up [Episode 7])
  • “I’ve seen this place in my dreams…it didn’t go well” (Chloe to Brad inside an abandoned house on their girls day [Episode 7])
  • “One dictatorship ended, another begun” (Greg to Em on their wedding day being the same day Saddam Hussein was captured [Season Finale])
  • “They’re not night terrors I enjoy them” (Chloe to Sophie on how she sleeps [Season Finale])
  • “I’ve seen more convincing performances in a Bunnings commercial!” (Em to Greg on his attempt to start a fake fight [Season Finale])
  • “If our white goods could talk!” (Marlo to Brad on the make-up laundry sex her and Terry have [Season Finale])
  • “I could get hauled in front of the Uber tribunal” (Brad to Terry and Marlo on their request to speak with the Uber driver who gave them a low rating [Season Finale])
  • “I’ve got a few problems Sophie you’re gonna have to be more specific!” (Brad to Sophie when she asks him what his problem is [Season Finale])
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How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 6

This episode was a huge improvement from last week’s.

This episode kept things single with one major story and going sans the kids and Terry and Marlo. This episode focused on Em’s high school reunion.

Throughout the episode Em hangs out with old schoolmate, Clea. After having a run in with an old teacher who accuses her of plagiarising a poem in year 12, her and Clea break into the principal’s office to find a key to a time capsule where her poem was buried. Throughout all of this, Em is trying to remember what Clea’s nickname in high school was, an answer Clea doesn’t provide. Em ends up finding the time capsule and her poem (as well as other questionable contents) where it’s revealed her “poem” is in fact Billy Joel’s The River of Dreams. In all honesty, this reveal didn’t surprise me, I knew her poem would have been plagiarised but didn’t know what it would be from. That being said the lead up to it was hilarious.

Meanwhile Greg is hanging out with a bloke named Tiz, a man in a tracksuit binging on kebabs and finds out that he was Em’s ex-boyfriend in high school, not the dapper Adam Sharpe. Although it wasn’t as obvious a reveal as Em’s “poem”, the revelation still didn’t surprise me. In fact the only real twist for me in this episode was the reveal that Clea is a “klepto” and hence her high school nickname “Clea the Klepto” was established. Also, I found Clea and Brad’s act as a “married couple” didn’t really add anything to the episode.

Overall this episode was an improvement as the story and the characters were kept simple. I hope there’s more episodes without the kids and Terry and Marlo.

 

Stray Observations:

-Em’s maiden name was Dawson.

-According to Clea, an AMEX won’t work when “jimmying” open a door, apparently Mastercard is better.

 

How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 5

In all honesty this review is going to be short as I felt this was the weakest episode of the series so far.

This episode revolved around the impending hard rubbish collection day in Greg and Em’s neighbourhood. The impending collection day, along with Em realising there isn’t enough space in the house and there is an unused cubby house in the backyard, inspires her to not only do a good clean out but also have Brad move in there both for more space and so Sophie can have her room back.

Over the course of the episode Greg and Em battle over throwing items away, but what the fight really demonstrates is the constant tug of war we all have with ourselves–holding onto the past without being trapped in it and simultaneously moving forward into the future. While I felt this metaphor was played out well, it is dragged down by the weak writing of the rest of the episode.

I enjoyed the moment where the cubby house is burnt down as it is a good pay off of advice Em gave to Chloe earlier about getting rid of her own stuff. It also provides a way for the Brad subplot to keep going. I also liked the reveal that the joint Brad and Greg were smoking was in fact an old cigarette.

Jokes wise, there were solid one-liners and the running gag of Terry and Marlo collecting hard rubbish was hilarious. The latter specifically worked well as it provided a long overdue backstory into the supporting characters. However the hose joke fell flat as it was too slapstick and cliche. Another moment that fell flat was Em’s phone conversation with Amir whilst he’s doing some form of yoga–it had a lot of potential for a great gag, but instead his presence was wasted as the audience isn’t told why he’s calling or he’s doing yoga whilst on the phone. Also the presence of Verity, Brad’s latest girlfriend fell flat as she didn’t really add anything to the episode other than the stereotype of a hipster (or hippie it was hard to tell).

I’m hoping the remaining episodes show improvement.

 

Best one liners:

  • “God it’s like a headache commercial in here!” (Em on the phone to Amir walking through her noisy house)
  • “I’m keen to hear more about the beard oil!” (Amir on the phone to Em, overhearing her conversation with Verity)
  • “I was planning on doing a stargazing ab crunch tonight” (Greg to Em on the stuff in the backyard he doesn’t use)
  • “Are you saying Gillie was the first to witness our love?” (Greg to Em on his Adam Gilchrist memorabilia hanging over his bed when they were dating)
  • “You’re the hard rubbish find of the century!” (Marlo to Terry on finding hard rubbish and how they met)

How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 4

This episode managed to be both hilarious and relatable.

The A story this week was Greg being a coach on Sophie’s basketball team and Em believing that she hasn’t been around enough due to her new job. Throughout the episode, something is clearly up with Sophie, even more so as it’s revealed that she hasn’t scored a goal all season and is apparently getting worse. Em’s effort to be at the next game are hindered by work.

This episode is the first time that Em’s workplace and bosses have made an appearance since the pilot. Although I love Judith Lucy and she does get some great one liners, I can’t help but that her character is only used for an occasional punch line. Also, although it was good to see John Wood play a comical character for once, I found his sexually fascinated, fake-posh accent character a little too cliche and over the top. Not to mention the scenes of Em giving Morrie CPR after having a heart attack to be too much of a frankly outdated sexist cliche. I’m also not sure whether I liked the fact that there was no mention of whether he lived and the fact that the joke went nowhere afterwards.

Once Em eventually gets to the game, Sophie reveals to Greg at a crucial moment at the end of it that she hasn’t scored a goal as she is embarrassed to shoot, as she needs a sport bra. I found this revelation to be relatable, well done and very sweet. I also found that the basketball game in its entirety illustrates how over the top parents can be at children’s sports competition, which is both a sad commentary on what parenthood is like these days but also realistic.

I found the B story of Chloe taking $50 out of Greg’s wallet and using the money to exert power over her classmates to be funnier and more interesting than the A story. That being said it wasn’t strong enough to last for the whole episode so I feel the writers did a good job with this one. This subplot marks the first time that there has been a focus and character development on Chloe and she was hilarious, Vivien Turner definitely has a bright acting future ahead of her.

Overall I felt this episode was a little weak with its writing, especially with the A story, but nonetheless hilarious and relatable.

 

Stray Observations:

-Apparently there was a supplement scandal in the under 14s girls basketball league in the past.

-According to Chloe’s school principal, it’s easier to download and use an app to order the kid’s lunches rather than the “old fashioned” way of using real money. I really hope that doesn’t happen in real schools.

Best one liners:

  • “Don’t read her diary…but if you do text me!” (Em to Greg on Sophie)
  • “I love money the way guns love Americans!” (Audrey to Em on Morrie’s low-quality book making lots of money for the publishing company)
  • “I know not who Matthew Flinders is and I don’t care to find out!” (Chloe to her classmates on trying to get one of them to do her school work for her)
  • “She’s created a team of minions and enslaved half of prep!” (Chloe’s school principal to Greg and Em on Chloe’s behaviour)
  • “I’d rather stick my nipples in a garlic press!” (Audrey to the publishing company’s receptionist on doing a reading of Morrie’s book)

 

How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 3

This episode focused on an issue that all married couples would face at one point or another–what to do about contraception when they’ve finished having children.

The episode kicks off with Greg and Em about to have sex only to realise they don’t have condoms, so Greg goes off to a convenience store to buy some where he has a funny interaction with the cashier, buying nearly every other item nearby before finally admitting he really wants condoms. By the time he gets home, Chloe is in their bed and Em wants to sleep.

It cuts to the next day where Em is talking to Marlo and admits that she actually put Chloe in their bed to avoid sex with Greg as she is too tired. This was an interesting and clever reveal and it made me wonder how many people have done this to their spouse. Meanwhile Greg is discussing having a vasectomy with Terry and Brad. Both Terry and Marlo make decisions for Greg and Em respectively—Marlo has Em do skydiving as a means to make her feel alive and boost her libido, while Terry books Greg in for a vasectomy—at the same time.

Greg at first tries to preserve his last bit of sperm by going back to the convenience store to “provide a sample” into a slushie cup only for it to be stolen by a robber. They end up at Terry’s doctor only for them to discover that the doctor is trying to break a record for the most amount of vasectomies done in one day. Brad ends up having a vasectomy because he loves being an uncle more than the thought of being a father, but Greg doesn’t have his done.

Meanwhile Em is scared about skydiving and it doesn’t help that their instructor, Lenny, appears suicidal after his wife breaks up with him over the phone. She also has to deal with ashes being thrown in her face by another flyer scattering her father’s ashes. In the end both Greg and Em seem to live with the fact that Greg never had his vasectomy, and the episode ends how it started with them trying to have sex only for Chloe to be in their bed.

Overall this was a good but not great episode which dealt with a realistic marital issue in two humorous ways, with the Greg subplot almost slapstick-like. The episode to me provided more of an insight into Terry and Marlo’s marriage than Greg and Em’s.

 

Stray Observations:

-Apparently Terry bought a heap of condoms from Costco and since his own vasectomy, he’s been using the leftovers as dishwashing gloves.

-Terry and Marlo once had sex at an open range zoo.

-Apparently Bluetooth ribbed condoms exist.

-Chloe’s birthday is in October.

 

Best one liners:

  • “My dad’s getting his penis cut up so mum’s jumping out of a plane!” (Chloe to a mother of one of her friends)
  • “Three vasectomies, two reversals, my balls have forgiven me for many things, indecisiveness isn’t one of them.” (Terry on his urologist to Brad and Greg)
  • “Man jam” (Terry’s name for sperm)
  • “How do you fall in love with a penpal who’s illiterate?” (Lenny to Em, Marlo and Stephanie on his marriage ending)
  • “They were cutting testicles like kids pop balloons.” (Greg to Em on the vasectomy record breaking attempt)

How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 2

Now that the pilot has come and gone, and the character and premise of the show has been established, we can get right into the story.

This episode deals with the consequences of the Greg’s and Em’s respective choices to be a stay-at-home parent and go back to work. Greg and Em decide to go to an Ed Sheeran concert and have a romantic night, however their conflicting plans and the building tension between them leads to things going awry.

The episode kicks off with Sophie begging to babysit as she wants the responsibility, Em is against it however Greg says yes, which is one source of tension. When Greg’s and Em’s conflicting plans come to the surface and lead to things going awry—the Loaded Toad being replaced with an apartment building and Honey Cloud not letting them in due to Greg’s self-made tour shirts breaching their dress code, this leads to even more tension. The breaking point comes when they realise they don’t actually have tickets to the Ed Sheeran concert due to them believing the other was responsible for them. This leads to them arguing and telling each other what’s really pissing them off—Greg saying he is “babysitting” the kids and Em rightly pointing out that they’re his kids, Greg’s resentment towards Em for “never shouting” and their struggles adjusting to their new roles.

Meanwhile Sophie manages to convince Chloe to go to bed hours early, and watches a horror film as Terry and Marlo try to keep an eye on them and inadvertently scare her. Brad also goes on his first Tinder date and ruins it by insisting he kinda looks like Ed Sheeran, in all honesty I didn’t feel like his subplot added anything to the episode.

Once they get home they manage to have a romantic date with the help of Terry and Marlo, and Em wearing her matching shirt that Greg made. They also manage to make the best of Em’s Brazilian wax (the scenes of the waxing were hilarious) as she asks Greg if he wants to help her find the “missing bits”.

Overall this was a good episode and funnier than the pilot, hopefully the show will continue to improve as it progresses.

 

Best one liners, quotes and interactions:

  • “Yes ISIS has been waiting around for you and dad to go out and then they’re going to strike!” (Sophie to Em on Em’s uncertainty on Sophie babysitting Chloe)
  • “If we’re visited by an axe murderer in the next five minutes, I’ll give you a call” (Sophie to Em)
  • “If you could put a waxed vag into a stubby holder men wouldn’t leave the couch!” (the beautician to Em)
  • “Tonight will go as smoothly as your freshly waxed front bum” (the beautician to Em)
  • “Possums don’t eat turmeric!” (Marlo to Terry on her lasagne being left outside Greg and Em’s door)
  • “I got a Brazilian because I wanted tonight to be…” “pubeless?” (Em-Greg)

How to Stay Married–Pilot

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.

 

 

Stray Observations:

-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)