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Talk to just about anybody who's worked in TV comedy long enough, and they'll lament one thing above all else: running time.
It needs room to play, in other words, and the more time a series has to give over to advertising, the more it loses in storytelling. Each episode introduces a rough situation — in this one, it's the marriage of Marjorie, played by the terrific Mimi Kennedy — and then spins out a few scenes around that situation.
By episode's end, however, the show has twisted into some other story entirely.
In contrast to the multi-camera sitcom is the "single-camera" sitcom, which is the most popular form of TV comedy right now.
Single-camera sitcoms are filmed more like miniature movies; most scenes are short, and many shows will leave their soundstages to film out in the world.
But because remains mired in the milieu of the day-by-day process of living post-addiction, it never feels gimmicky when bad things happen, or when characters struggle to keep their lives on track. The series is also notable for becoming a kind of way station for great actresses who don't have other jobs at the moment.
Anna Faris and Allison Janney, as the daughter and mother at the series' center, are so good at what they do and have laid such a strong foundation that a wide variety of funny women have been able to build atop it with their own complementary performances.
Though the show has several male regulars, it's drifted more and more toward this female-centric version of itself as time has passed, and it's only improved as a result.
Much of the credit is surely due to co-creator Gemma Baker, whose name is on nearly every script the show produces (including this one) and whose vision of the series — as a story of women gaining strength from simply being around each other — has grown more focused with every season.
The main thing that makes a multi-camera sitcom work is time.
While a single-camera sitcom can more easily make do with shorter episodes, the multi-cam needs space for scenes to spread out, for the cast to establish chemistry.
In this episode alone, there's only one major speaking role for a man — Marjorie's fiancé and eventual husband Victor.