'Married' Produces One of Its Best Episodes Yet: Thanks, Facebook!

A 40th birthday celebration goes incrementally, hilariously wrong for Lina.
FX

You can credit Facebook for one of the best episodes of Married to date.

Thursday's episode of the FX comedy revolved around Lina's (Judy Greer) 40th birthday (and happened to air just a few days after the actress' real-life birthday). Russ (Nat Faxon), as he does, under-plans a celebration initially, but ends up saving the night after the party Lina's friend Stacey (Michaela Watkins) throws turns into a fiasco.

The party scenes pile cringeworthy moments on top of each other like the layers of a cake, but despite the absurd place things end, the escalation feels like a natural one. Those kinds of buildups are things the Married writers discuss a lot, creator Andrew Gurland says.

"We spend a lot of time in the writers' room trying to keep the tone as grounded as possible," Gurland tells The Hollywood Reporter. "By the end of an episode, larger comedic things have happened, but it's been such a grounded, incremental ramp-up that you don't really notice it's happening."

When viewers find out Stacey and her husband (Patrick Fischler) are going through a nasty divorce, it seems perfectly within the realm of things. When a bone of contention turns out to be his collection of Civil War miniatures, that's odd but not too out of the ordinary.

When the party's not ready when Russ and Lina show up, that flows as well. So does the pity appearance Russ and Lina's former babysitter puts in. Russ ending up in the pool to save the night seems almost inevitable.

The premise of "Aftershocks," Gurland says, came from a writers' room discussion about how people seem to feel compelled to declare their love on social media.

"We were all talking about how when [one half of a] married couple has these milestone birthdays, there's this pressure on the spouse to publicly profess their love in front of a group of people," he says. "You're constantly seeing it on social media, you'll see it at the party itself. The party is some kind of announcement of the fact that we're still in love, and that's pretty stressful. ...

"Every time someone does it on Facebook, I have to write 'get a room' underneath it. Because it's weird! It's just weird. 'Hey everybody — this person who's sitting right next to me, I'm gonna tell them I love them publicly.'"

That jump in the pool was about as close as Russ will get to that. The trick Married pulled off here was making the stunt a specific declaration toward Lina — they had talked about it earlier in the episode — that he really wanted to make, not something he felt obligated to do.

What did you think of Married this week? Sound off in the comments below. Married airs Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. on FX.

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