State of the Union Review
by D. Adonis
**** 4 Stars
O’Dowd and Pike’s performance remarkably balances out Nick Hornby’s sharp and fluid dialogue.
‘State of the Union’ consists of bite-sized episodes following a couple’s weekly meet-ups at the pub before their marital counselling session. The show resembles a comedy sketch rather than the typical half hour, laugh track sitcom. O’Dowd perfectly describes the show as ‘Woody Allen vignettes’, because of its reference heavy, introspective and witty dialogue, much like an Allen film.
The show starts with ‘Marathon’, which introduces us to the married couple: Louise (Rosamund Pike), a gerontologist and Tom (Chris O’Dowd), a former music critic. Their conversation starts out awkward, and from the beginning there is an underlying tension about the issues surrounding their marriage which would seamlessly unfold by the end of the episode.
‘Marathon’ establishes the central conflict: both of them are willing to fight for their marriage, but differ in the course of action they want to take: Louise is persistent in going through with counselling to diagnose their ‘marital disease’, while Tom opposes the idea, as he thinks that their marriage didn’t really need ‘poking around in’.
O’Dowd and Pike’s performance remarkably balances out Nick Hornby’s sharp and fluid dialogue. Their portrayals add lots of meaning to their characters: Pike’s perfect posture and calm delivery emphasises Louise’s emotional maturity, which contrasts O’Dowd’s lack of composure and passive aggressiveness which characterises Tom as the sulky man-child.
With the seamless direction, neat script and great performances, ‘Marathon’ promises the viewers a light and refreshing comedy about the marathon that is Tom and Louise’s marriage.
State of the Union is currently available on the BBC iPlayer is rated 12.