In Sundance TV’s State of the Union, Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) play Louise and Tom, who meet in a pub immediately before their weekly marital therapy session; each episode pieces together how their lives were, what drew them together, and what has started to pull them apart. The question is probed across ten 10-minute episodes.
Who is at fault, TV critics wanted to know.
“Not to be cliched, but it’s her fault,” O’Dowd joked. “She’s the one who slept with somebody else.”
Writer Nick Hornby, however, via satellite, told TV O’Dowd, “It was supposed to be your fault in the script, but you messed it up,” getting a laugh.
Hornby called O’Dowd “one of those rare comic actors who can be soulful. He’s fantastic at comedy also can really break your heart.”
O’Dowd attempted to return the compliment, saying Hornby’s writing “lends itself very well to my mouth,” after which he admitted that was a “weird” way to put it.
Asked if he ever had the urge to play a dashing romantic lead, O’Dowd joked, “That is what I am attempting every time…Sadly, it appears you have noticed it doesn’t really work.”
Pike described the series as “a look at what we feel about love, and how it changes, and whether, if you’re not feeling that first flush, is it still love, and can you still recall what it was when everything felt electric.”
O’Dowd, in fewer words, described State of the Union as a look at whether “two people like each other enough to hang out any more.”
O’Dowd’s Tom is a rock critic because, Hornby said, it’s one of those middle-class college-educated careers that 20 years ago you could make a good living at, but which now are disappearing. Meanwhile, Louise is a doctor who is now bringing home the family income.
He said he wrote the series in 10-minute increments because he loves writing dialogue most of all and each episode is nothing but.
Sundance TV has yet to say what will be its play pattern for State of the Union; TV critics asked Hornby what he prefers.
At Sundance Film Festival, he said, it “played beautifully as a movie that no one seemed to get fed up with watching” for 100 minutes. If you watch one week over 10 weeks you probably will “lose the thread of it,” he cautioned, saying it is maybe be consumed five episodes at a time, over two nights.