In a matter of weeks, Married will return to television. Rather than tell you why the FX comedy—which follows the ups and downs of Russ (Nat Faxon) and Lina Bowman (Judy Greer), a married couple with three children—is worth the watch, we decided to ask its stars. In advance of the show’s season 2 premiere, Faxon and Greer make a convincing case for, essentially, why you should clear up some of that precious, coveted DVR space—and preview the new season as well.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: For people who haven’t watched Married, how would you pitch the show? More specifically, how would you pitch the show’s second season?
NAT FAXON: What if we don’t know and can’t remember? [Laughs] I think the tagline for the show when we started was “This is about a couple who are unhappily in love.”
JUDY GREER: “Miserably in love.”
FAXON: Essentially it chronicled Russ and Lina Bowman, who are married, have three children, and are basically trying to figure out a way in which to reconnect. With everything that comes with life and your kids and your employment and your struggles with money and family and everything, how do you stay connected with one another and continue that love that you have despite all the obstacles that get in the way? This show addresses that in a very funny, but very grounded way that feels a little bit grittier, independent film-esque than something you may have seen on network TV.
GREER: Second season, both of us get jobs, which is a big deal because in the first season we didn’t have jobs. We move to a nicer house. My character is struggling with her identity separate from being a wife and a mother. She’s trying to figure out what her life goals are outside of her family, dealing with the fact that she didn’t achieve any of her goals—which ones are worth salvaging and which ones does she give up on? The season starts with my husband, Nat’s character, throwing me a 40th birthday party and it’s kind of one of those horrible moments where you’re like, “Wow, I’m turning 40 and I have no idea what I’ve done with my life besides make babies and be married to this guy.” What are we going to do? What is our identity now that we’re older? I’d also like to note that I am not 40 yet. It was a stretch for me to play my character being older than me.
FAXON: 39 is way different.
GREER: It’s really different. I remember when [executive producer] Andrew [Gurland] pitched the season-opening episode to me. I was like, “But when it airs I won’t even be 40 yet.” He was like “Well, how old are you?” I said, “39.” He’s like, “You’re 40!” I’m like, “I’m not 40! You’re airing an episode where you’re aging me.” He’s like, “I’m aging you by like a month.”
FAXON: When is your birthday?
GREER: My birthday is July 20.
FAXON: Oh my god, four days after we premiere.
GREER: I won’t be 40 when it premieres! It’s an important distinction.
How do the first and second seasons compare?
GREER: I think some of the things I heard are “How do they not have jobs? How do they go out a lot? How do they afford their lives?” Now, we’re working. This season we seem a little bit more relatable.
FAXON: As a couple, they’re dealing with different stuff. We’re more dealing with, like what Judy said, identity. Also, as far as my character, he always wants to be part of the group and now has a job, and with that job comes more responsibility. He oversees other people and therefore has to become a little bit more of a boss. That’s very difficult for Russ, because he’s more of a people pleaser and doesn’t want to rock the boat, and doesn’t want to have to fire people, especially his friends. He doesn’t want to assume the management position. He’s happy to have the money, but probably less happy to be the one in charge and the one having to make the decisions.
The appeal of the show, for a lot of people, is that it’s very real, and to a certain extent, brutally honest. Would you guys agree with that?
FAXON: Yeah, very much so.
GREER: I didn’t feel like I’d seen any relationship like ours on television yet.
FAXON: It at least felt very relatable and grounded. I know a lot of people throw those terms out, but I do feel like this show separates itself from other half-hour sitcoms because it lives in a different place as far as the writing is concerned, rhythmically. It’s a little less premise-based, and is a little bit more relationship-based and character-based. All of those things are very attractive as far as being an actor on the show.
Judy, you mentioned that your characters end up getting a home. Did Lina and Russ end up moving to Costa Rica as they had discussed?
FAXON: We lobbied hard.
GREER: We’ve really been pushing to have a major vacation episode where we just shoot a whole season somewhere like that, but no. We have a new rental a few blocks away from our old rental in the valley, but we were excited because it’s bigger, so it’s not as a hot on set when we’re shooting. Literally, there’s more room for all the people on set.
What’s nice about the Costa Rica plot point is that even though the move didn’t happen, Lina still came around to the idea.
GREER: Yeah, I was wondering when we were shooting that stuff, “Would Lina really—would I, Judy—really support us up and leaving and moving to Costa Rica?” Sometimes I think it’s just as important to be excited about the dream as it is to do the thing. Just giving Russ her support was maybe enough for him. Obviously it was because we didn’t end up going.
GREER: Booooo! We’ll be pitching hard if we get a third season.
There are some changes ahead for season 2: Sarah Burns is joining the show as a series regular, and Jenny Slate will appear in fewer episodes. Can you talk about how these changes have affected the second season?
GREER: We were really, really excited that Sarah Burns was coming on. She is someone that I’ve been a huge fan of for a really long time. She was really excited to be with us on the show, and her character, I find her to be extremely lovable, but so goofy and silly. Having Sarah Burns on has affected the show in an extremely positive way.
FAXON: With Jenny’s sort of downsizing, Andrew Gurland and the writers have done an amazing job of amping up the difficulties that her and Paul Reiser’s character are having this season as far as their relationship is concerned, and really making it a little bit volatile. As a result, some of those episodes became more dramatic, and that was welcomed and exciting as far as we were concerned because it goes to show all the things that we’re dealing with are, like we talked about, very real and identifiable things. Relationships aren’t always perfect, and a lot of times they’re a lot of work, and sometimes people can work through that and sometimes people can’t. And I think they did a really nice job of representing a situation where it does not work and then counterbalancing that with [Lina and Russ’] relationship. Despite all the ups and downs, there still is a very strong bond between us and a love between us, and I think they’ve represented both of those very well.
You teased some of the dramatic moments that are ahead. What are some comedic moments we can look forward to?
GREER: I get it in my head that one of the tenants on our property is a murderer. I follow him around for a day and make Russ get to the bottom of the crime he’s committed. A.J. (Brett Gelman) has so much. He’s coming back from the first season into the second. He’s out of rehab, he’s totally sober, he’s really trying to make it work. Abby, the character Sarah Burns is playing, is also kind of a love interest for him so they’re having a very weird relationship. He’s celibate, so there’s a lot of comedy about them not having sex.
FAXON: We have our parents.
GREER: Yes, our parent episode.
FAXON: We have Judy’s mother, played by Frances Conroy, and her stepfather, by M.C. Gainey. Judy really wants to bring her mother home because she feels like she’s not getting the care and attention she deserves. When we go to visit them, she discovers sexual toys.
FAXON: Sexual aides.
GREER: Not AIDS.
FAXON: Not AIDS, like capital A, period I. Aides as in lubrication.
GREER: Like to aid in sex. I find lube in my mom’s bathroom and I freak out because I feel like my mom is suffering from a little bit of dementia and I’m like “How could he be having sex with her if she doesn’t even know who she is sometimes?” and I freak out about that.
FAXON: It makes for a very awkward conversation between M.C. Gainey and myself.
GREER: Of course I make Russ deal with it. I also try really hard to impress my oldest daughter by hosting a sleepover that goes wrong.
FAXON: I have to play video games with my boss to try and get more time off. It’s super awkward.
GREER: We have date night separately. We go on separate dates for our date night because we can’t agree on what to do, so we don’t have our date night together, and that’s a really funny episode. I end up going on a double date with another couple and Russ goes to a warehouse party Downtown. A.J.’s trying to sell a children’s book about addiction and recovery. It’s sort of like Old MacDonald Had a Farm, but it’s with a guy who’s an alcoholic, but he’s addicted to milk because it’s for children.
Married returns for its second season Thursday, July 16, at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on FX.