Marry Me: B
Package Deal: C
Marry Me is unmistakably a comedy, and that’s a good thing for the most part considering there are way too many dramadies and watered-down sitcoms on the air right now that really make you question if the show you’re watching is actually supposed to be funny.
Marry Me, however, bombards you with joke after joke after joke after joke. With so many, they’re often hit or miss, and the sheer number of them may just exhaust you.
The show’s humour also often falls between just random jokes or awkward humour. For example, while the debut episode was mostly about the couple’s botched proposals, there are somehow jokes about the Challenger explosion, Paula Deen using the N-word and having a time machine to save Princess Di. Then there’s a bunch of other ones based around awkward situations like that yoga instructor who had a slew of meaningless compliments and when Annie (Casey Wilson) gets her boyfriend/fiancé Jake (Ken Marino) fired by blurting out that he took her on a vacation (as Jake told his boss his father was gravely ill to get the time off).
Unfortunately though, there’s a lot in the show that feels done before. You’re following a youngish couple in the city in love, their ups and downs, the people in their lives and…that’s about it.
The show’s type of humour also shares a lot in common with Happy Endings—it’s quite random, awkward and quirky. Actually, considering Casey Wilson starred in both series, Marry Me almost feels like a Happy Endings spinoff where we follow her old character Penny into marriage. For that to work though we’d have to pretend Penny changed her name to Annie and figure out a way to explain the whole thing with her gay dads. If you take that leap, Marry Me is sort of like watching Three’s A Crowd if we think of Happy Endings as Three’s Company.
Cristela, on the other hand, is a lot like a 90s sitcom. You have neighbours walking in randomly, family members who take petty jabs at one another and a blond who acts like a spoiled bimbo. Cristela (Cristela Alonzo) also flirts with her hard-working coworker who seems to have a lot in common with her, adding a stale and cliche will they, won’t they vibe to the show.
The series is one of the many ABC brought to air this year (with a few more coming shortly) that seem to be part of an effort to bring diversity to the network. (Who would’ve thought the American Broadcasting Company would broadcast series reflecting what America actually looks like?)
Cristela follows the titular character, an aspiring lawyer and her Mexican-American family. Unfortunately, however, the program isn’t the most polished thing on the air and it’s not helped by the lame-looking sets.
The show arguably feels rather dated and tired, however it could be fun on a Friday night when there’s not much else on. At least it’s written somewhat decently though. Cristela does have its moments, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything special and nothing here feels particularly new.
The same goes for Package Deal, which aired Fridays at 9 p.m. over on City, but has since been moved to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays. I caught some of the second season premiere and much of the first season. It was all quite painful as the writing was rather awful. Also, a lot like Cristela, the sets on Package Deal look off and not particularly convincing. I’m not sure if they seem that way because of how the series is filmed or if they’re just built poorly.
The plot of “Danny’s New Job,” the Package Deal episode I reviewed, seemed slightly more interesting than the Cristela episode that aired the same night although both shows included an element of online dating in their plots. On Package Deal, Sheldon (Harland Williams) discovers a hookup app Findr, (essentially a fictionalized Grindr for straight people) and starts hooking up with women. That part was standard sitcom stuff, but when Kim (Julia Voth) decides to use the app to set up a fake account to lure guys to her store, so they’d buy tea while they’re waiting to meet the attractive woman in the fake profile—that’s when things became a bit more interesting.
However, there’s a lot on Package Deal that doesn’t quite work. Besides the bad writing and unconvincing set, Harland Williams’ character Sheldon doesn’t seem to suit him. The character is a player, but Harland doesn’t quite look the part. Sheldon seems as if he’s written to be in his early 20s, but Harland is 52 according to his IMDB profile. I’m not saying Harland isn’t a good actor, it’s just a shame they couldn’t give him a character that fit him better.
Also, notice how the episode was called “Danny’s New Job” and I didn’t even mention who Danny (Randal Edwards) is. Despite being remarkably dull, Danny is actually the main character. Imagine if Archie Andrews grew up, became a lawyer and settled with Betty—that boring. He spent most of the episode trying to get his new boss to like him.
Package Deal also reminds me of the short-lived CTV series Satisfaction, which a lot like Package Deal had to do with a young couple having to cope with other eccentric people constantly in their lives. Satisfaction was cancelled after one season, Package Deal, as middling as it is, somehow made it to season two.
You could do a lot worse than Marry Me, Cristela and Package Deal, however. Marry Me is an acquired taste, while Cristela and Package Deal lean more to mediocre territory, but they’re passable if you’re looking to kill some time.
Episodes Reviewed: “Pilot” (Marry Me), “Soul Mates” (Cristela) and “Danny’s New Job” (Package Deal)
Marry Me airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on Global
Cristela airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on CHCH, Joytv and ABC
Package Deal airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on City
(Featured Image: Screenshot via City Video)