A Very Special Marriage
by ELEANOR MORROW
creator Andrea Savage
It was a very special, yet very unexpected moment when Cheryl Hines and Larry David finally divorced on Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was such a rare thing for seasons and seasons of a show to occur in the context of an ostensibly happy marriage and then to have the show write off one of its signature characters in this fashion. Larry David’s real life divorce obviously played a prominent role in taking the story in this direction — I believe Laurie David took up with one of their servants.
Cheryl David became a sinister character after that, a woman who was more interested in Larry’s money and the status that he provided than true love. On truTV’s new Curb clone, I’m Sorry, Andrea (Andrea Savage) and Mike (Tom Everett Scott) seem to be heading down a similar path. Unlike Curb, the problems will have been manifest from the very beginning.
The other major difference between Larry David and Andrea Savage, besides a shitload of hair, is Andrea’s six-year old daughter Amela (Olive Petrucci). Savage, 44, has been hanging around the periphery of various shows over the years much like her co-star in I’m Sorry, Judy Greer, who even penned a memoir about how often she is recognized by passerby for absolutely nothing.
Like Larry, Andrea is a comedy writer. Her friends in that industry, including writing partner Kyle (comedian Jason Mantzoukas), are meant to prevent I’m Sorry from feeling as boring as say, Better Things or Louis CK’s show since he became an absolutely dreadful shell of his former self. The scenes where Savage banters with her comedian friends initially feel forced, but they are a welcome change-of-pace from traditional mommy satire.
Savage is a likable and skilled performer, as the creative mind behind I’m Sorry, she appears to be working overtime as a performer as well. She has a surprising capacity for exploring the particulars of a sudden desperation. Many of her neuroses seem a little forced, like when she gets into a screaming argument with a roomful of seniors in her dance class over the air-conditioning. At other times, I’m Sorry hones on the absurdity of Los Angeles life without feeling complain-y or entirely bourgeois. The main conflict in Andrea’s life seems to be with her husband, who has to endure the attention of her fellow comedians and his wife’s outsized personality. This marriage has been set to slow cook.
Tom Everett Scott, 46, has never found that exact role which suited his abilities perfectly. He is miscast, as in I’m Sorry, as a bumbling nice guy, and he did not make much sense as a schemer with a heart of gold in Steven Bochco’s short-lived but brilliant legal drama Philly. Audiences either see Scott as an absolute patsy or a liar, and it is really difficult to embody that contradiction properly as a performer. At the beginning of I’m Sorry, we are most struck that Scott’s Mike is an introvert, a rare television opportunity to play someone who does not advertise every aspect of themselves with his mouth.
As parents, Mike and Andrea are devoted, but you can see that they are somewhat baffled by these unfamiliar roles. My mother had me when she was 26; it is far different to enter parenthood when you are already fully formed as a person. Reevaluating the world at that age is a different challenge, and the strain it puts on the marriage in I’m Sorry is new territory that was never explored in Curb Your Enthusiasm.
It is exciting to think we will be able to watch someone’s life fall completely apart, for Andrea Savage’s existence is so blissful and untroubled otherwise that it would be hard to see where else I’m Sorry looks for storylines. Exploring the not-so-wild concept of a not perfectly happy couple in an honest and revealing way could propel I’m Sorry from a Larry David tribute half-hour to something completely its own.
Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.