Photo: IFC

Putting Your Best Maron Forward

Who should play Marc Maron on the second season of IFC's Maron? Not Marc Maron, that's for sure.

You would get no disappointed looks from anyone around here if you bailed on Marc Maron's IFC sitcom, Maron, shortly after its May debut.

Maron's warts-and-all podcast WTF with Marc Maron frequently hits on greatness when two people -- one of whom has major narcissism issues; guess which one? -- rub up in long-form conversation inside a catshit-adjacent southern California garage. The podcast, uneven as it is, can be transcendent.

The TV show? Not even a little bit. Plodding writing hurts it. But so does a sense that series actor/creator Marc Maron wants the show to be uncomfortably real yet also broadly appealing, making it seem all the more artificial. For listeners of WTF, the TV show can be frustrating; many of the pieces are there, but they don't fit together as well as they should. Even the re-enacted podcast segments with celebrities like Denis Leary or Aubrey Plaza fall flat. For those unaware of WTF, the TV show must feel like a cheap Gobots attempt to clone the formula of FX's Louie. And a piss-poor one at that.

Very early on in the run of Louie, Louis C.K. proved himself nearly as adept a visual storyteller as he was a stand-up comic. And his acting got up to speed quickly, too. Ten episodes into Maron, the show's center has shown no such progress.

Maybe IFC, in renewing Maron for a 13-episode second season, saw a glimmer of something, like we did in the back half of that first season. The show improved, especially when it stopped focusing so intently on the nagging insecurities of Maron (the character) and his depressing, insular home and internet life. Things seemed more sure-footed when we saw him out in the world, dealing with a new girlfriend/internet fan at a comedy festival, or in an oddly uplifting episode starring perennial badass Danny Trejo as a recovering alcoholic. An episode-length lunch with a Hollywood film director (Eric Stoltz) showing the different paths that Maron's life could have taken had some satisfying turns. It hinted at the deeper show a better Maron could be.

Maron got a little more interesting for those who stuck with it, but not because of Marc Maron (actor). In fact, even though it was the role he was literally born to play, Maron could be funnier and smarter without Maron in the lead. In fact, the role should be recast for Season 2.

Now, hear me out! I'm saying this with love. As crankypants and self-absorbed as Marc Maron (real-life person) can be, I still listen to WTF every week. We hold out hope that he will keep his ever-loving shit together as he tries another marriage and reproduces with his significant other Jessica, the woman who inspired the maybe-she's-crazy Sex Fest storyline in the show.

From listening to Maron (podcaster) tell it, his summer autobiography Attempting Normal and the portrayal of the characters on the TV show have caused a huge rift with his father (doctor) and created tension at home with Jessica.

It's a lot for someone as busy as Maron (multi-hyphenate) to handle. How great would be if he took a step back and gave the role, which he really doesn't seem perfectly comfortable playing, to another actor? It would be viewed as a game-changing act of generosity that could give the series the creative jolt it needs. But it has to happen now. We'll forgive a show looking for its footing in Season 1, but a second season has to evolve and get a lot better, or even WTF diehards will jump ship for good.

We like Judd Hirsch as Marc's father. We love Nora Zehetner as the girlfriend who turns out to be more complex than just a sexy fan there to humor and exasperate Marc. The garage set is claustrophobic and grubby, as it should be. Hell, even keep the Dad Jeans blues of the opening theme song.

Maron (actor), though? He's got to go.

So, who should play him? We have a few ideas:

Bill Hader

Why him? Hader, a recent guest on WTF, could probably replicate Marc Maron's habits -- endlessly hawking Stamps.com subscriptions, forgetting to properly research podcast guests, engaging in apoplectic exchanges with quicker comedians such as Michael Ian Black -- in his sleep. Hader is between regular gigs right now and is about five million times more likeable.

What would a Bill Hader Maron look like? Exactly the same. Don't change a thing, but let Hader have some input in the writers' room.

Lewis Black

Why him? Among non-comedy nerds who don't listen to podcasts and conservatives, Lewis Black is probably already mistaken often for Marc Maron, the other angry, yelly, sometimes political comedian. One was on The Daily Show and the other was on Air America? "Same diff," they would tell you.

What would a Lewis Black Maron look like? Futuristic! Taking a cue from the "Projections" lunch episode, this version would jump 15 years into the future, showing the catastrophic effects that Marc Maron's 2013 decisions have on his older, puffier life in 2028. Bonus: budget savings by re-using scenes from Season 1 to launch these flash-forward storylines.

James Adomian

Why him? He already has a killer Marc Maron impression; his web shorts Maron in Space were funnier than anything on Maron's first season.

What would a James Adomian Maron look like? As much as I like Adomian, I'm not sure if an extended riff on Maron's tics can sustain a whole series. Instead of creating the typical show-within-a-show when the Marc Maron character gets a TV deal, go the American Splendor route. The real Marc Maron could appear behind the scenes, shooting down the portrayal and griping about Adomian's performance. A furious, on-the-attack Marc Maron is a lot better than a toned-down, sitcom-likeable Marc Maron, if you ask me.

So, that went well. Recast Marc Maron in Season 2 of Maron. I am NOT a crackpot.

We good?

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