It’s getting better. This week, MARLON gets to his relationship with his daughter and wife addressing each of their relationships in the two episodes. The problem of broad comedy exists with the storylines feeling a bit rushed in their conclusions (something I noticed last week as well), but it’s an improvement.
I found Marlon protecting his daughter Marley (Notlim Taylor) from potential creeping boys endearing to a point. What started off sweet, quickly devolved into playing into the stereotype of over protective dad in a sitcom. Every sitcom known to man has done this episode and there is nothing new here. Of course, father and daughter are gonna butt heads over the boy in question and of course, both parties are gonna learn a lesson.
This type of episode usually happens later in a sitcom’s run and the fact we’re only on the third episode and we’re doing this already raises some flags. There are ways to do this story in new and different ways, but writer Ric Swartzlander plays it safe. I don’t know if it is because he was under a time crunch (as most of this show seems to be) or because the showrunners told him to keep it as simple and broad as possible for mass appeal, but good lord almost all of this is telegraphed. At least, this had one joke that did make me laugh involving Marley’s younger brother Zack (Amir O’Neil) telling his sister that her face makes him want a happy meal due to her bad makeup job has her resembling Ronald McDonald.
The reason this storyline doesn’t completely fall on its face is that Notlim Taylor makes Marley headstrong and patient. I’d honestly watch a whole show about her character coming of age (with much better writers) as not only her character, but Notlim has potential in both comedic and dramatic storytelling.
Even the B-plot in this storyline feels like an afterthought. Stevie (Diallo Riddle) wins Beyonce tickets from a local radio station and Yvette (Bresha Webb) wants in. Both characters are just as uninteresting and annoying as they were last week and thankfully the episode puts this on the backburner as well. Of course Stevie would make Yvette jump through hoops for the ticket and of course, Yvette would only take interest in Stevie when it’s for her benefit. These characters are not only badly written, but they are unlikable.
The second episode doesn’t fare any better either. As Yvette, Stevie, Marlon and Ashley (Essence Atkins) play the very fun drinking game “Never Have I Ever”, the four discover that Ashley has never slept with an ex. Shocked, Marlon and Ashley decide to have casual sex with each other. Another story that has been done to death. I mean we got two movies in one year back in 2011 with No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits (the former better than the latter) of why these types of relationships never work. Sure, this is a first with divorced people (at least with what I’ve seen), but since Ashley and Marlon are such good friends after their divorce, I’d like to see their relationship explored in a different way. Sure, they subvert it (as much as they can) with Marlon the one catching feelings, but this occurs in the last few minutes of the episode yet again that still needs its B-plot also wrapped up. If there’s one thing Marlon and its showrunners need to stop doing, it’s saving the resolution for the last two minutes of the episode that feels rushed and sloppy.
As I stated before Marlon Wayans is a funny guy and needs to step it up. This show tries too hard for laughs barely exploring the relationship between Ashley and Marlon. I’m left wondering now for two weeks what the purpose of the show is. It relies too much on Wayans’ screaming and wild hand gestures that make him seem like the black Jim Carrey.
These two episodes are marked improvements over last week’s episodes, but it’s still lacking. I don’t know why they don’t play up Marlon’s YouTube show more. It’s curious as from what little we’ve seen from it thus far, I don’t know why anyone would waste their time watching time watching a forty plus-year-old man crack jokes about, or with, his family. If that’s the case literally anyone can be a big YouTube star.
Another thing I find curious is how they write Ashley as if she’s supposed to stay faithful to Marlon. Look, there’s Essence Atkins is a beautiful, attractive woman. There’s no way in the time from when she divorced Marlon (she’s the one who wanted their marriage ended) to the time of the show, that she would now just be going on dates, or would be sleeping with other men. Marlon included. I think what would help greatly is an established timeline on how long these two have been divorced. Marlon has slept with so many women even Ashley knows, but Ashley has been on one failed date (thanks to Marlon) and has only recently attempted to have sex since their divorce (again with Marlon).
We have three weeks left as NBC burns this off before the new season of shows begin and I feel as if I’m writing in circles reviewing this. It’s almost as if I’m having deja vu with writing reviews about 24: Legacy again. And while Marlon isn’t as painful as that show was, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest that it meets the same fate. We’ve come a long way in making better sitcoms than this. Are we in 2017 or 1997? We’re live in an age where almost every trope is subverted as audiences grow smarter. Let’s start writing like it, please.
Season 1, Episode 3-4 (S01E03-04)
Marlon airs Wednesday at 9PM on NBC
A lifelong film enthusiast since he can remember, Brandon is an indie filmmaker/screenwriter and freelance critic who resides in Trenton, NJ. Feel free to hit him up on Twitter to talk movies, shows, and music (especially hip-hop).
Follow Brandon on Twitter: @bwood0824
Keep up with all of Brandon’s reviews here.
Brandon Norwood | Contributor