TCA: NBC’s ‘Marry Me’ Continues Content Controversy Conversation


“In the pilot, a couple of times, the word ‘f***’ is used,” a TV critic said, kicking off the Q&A session for NBC’s new comedy Marry Me at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. “Is that it?” series creator David Caspe asked, after waiting in vain for the “question” part of the TV critics’ comment. The critic elaborated: “Are you going to be writing it this way, and…let Standards cut it out?”

“Come on! Do it!” urged cast member Tim Meadows, who plays one of Casey Wilson‘s gay dads on the comedy series. “I haven’t thought about it much,” Caspe answered. “Maybe a little bit, here and there, and then I cut it.”

There’s been a lot of talk about pushing broadcast-content boundaries during NBC’s portion of the semi-annual tour. Entertainment division chairman Bob Greenblatt talked about the challenges broadcasters face in trying to compete against cable at the Emmys, given broadcast TV’s time and content disadvantages.

And, during a session for new drama State of Affairs, executive producer Joe Carnahan said his goal for the series was to push content boundaries to create a drama that would “out-do what cable has become, (which is), let’s face it, the standard bearer.” To which, his fellow State of Affairs EP Ed Bernero, responded, “We have to use a little bit different language, and can’t show sex as much,” but the biggest difference between cable drama and broadcast is that both start with characters that are “messed up” but cable shows make the character “more messed up” while broadcast series feel the need to “fix them right away.”

“There’s nothing cable can do that we can’t do,” Bernero concluded. “Except show boobs,” series star Katherine Heigl muttered.

The conversation carried over into the Marry Me session. “I think ‘f***’ is NBC-friendly now,” joked Ken Marino, who stars as the romantic lead, opposite Casey Wilson, in the single-cam comedy about a young couple who, after dating six years, get engaged and realize it’s harder than it looks.

One critic wondered whether this comedy series would be an historic standards moment in TV.

“I would love to say ‘fuck’ on NBC but I don’t think this is going to be the groundbreaking. If want to make sure it sounds like people talk – people tend to swear a little,” exec producer Caspe said.

“And, if you don’t like it – fuck off!” joked star Wilson.

“Not you!” Caspe hastened to tell TV critics, adding, “We love all you – fuck on!”

Later, someone asked cast member John Gemberling to talk about the lot of the bearded man on network TV series, observing there are three bearded men on different NBC comedies and all three are “schlubs.”

“I didn’t always have a beard, but I found I got more work with a beard,” Gemberling said. “I’m a chubby, bearded guy, what can I do? I’m going to get cast as the schlubby loser. I like to believe — I don’t like cliches…I like to think I strive to bring something new to it.”

“I get cast as the black guy all the time,” Meadows chimed in,  adding, “Originally I auditioned for Ken’s role and I didn’t get a call back.”


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