In the midst of the joyous holiday season, a very amazing thing happened: there was a Christmas miracle on television. If you blinked and missed it, the special 4-hour mini-series MARRY ME starring Lucy Liu may have gone unnoticed on your television radar. But, if you caught it, it is a television event worth celebrating.
Over the years, television specials rarely surprise. They offer a catchy premise, a fun cast and the expected payoff in the end. But this time I found myself sitting in front of my television utterly entranced. What had sounded like a story about a woman torn between three different marriage proposals was actually something else entirely. It was a story of a woman rejecting three different marriage proposals as she tried to figure out if she was looking for a fairy tale or being realistic about her marriage prospects. The twist on a familiar story was unexpectedly delightful.
In addition, the show offered an unusual choice of casting. None of the characters felt like someone you had seen before – despite the fact that several of the actors hailed from familiar TV shows such as ALLY MCBEAL, WITHOUT A TRACE, RESCUE ME and CUPID. The characters felt refreshingly real, and in a charming way.
There was the heroine Rae Ann Carter, played by Lucy Liu, the adopted daughter of a wealthy Atlanta family who opted to pursue a career as a social worker instead of pursuing her dream as a children’s artist.
Suitor number one Adam, played by Bobby Cannavale (CUPID), was her boyfriend of two years who abandoned her to pursue his dream of traveling the world to take pictures of frogs. Yep, that was the running joke in the show: dumped for frogs.
Suitor number two Luke, played by Steven Pasquale (RESCUE ME), was a fix-up by the local pastor who claimed to have an interior designer nephew that would be perfect for Rae Ann.
And suitor number three Harry, played by Enrique Murciano (WITHOUT A TRACE), is the best friend of Luke who blows into town on his private jet needing a place to stay and gets caught up with all the romance in the air.
Each suitor has factors in his favor that sweep Rae Ann off her feet. But ultimately she had to choose the right man for her; and the prick of Cupid’s bow leads Rae Ann on a merry chase to determine which man holds genuine feelings for the lovely heroine.
Three proposals and three rejections: not your average fairy tale indeed. The casting of each of the primary characters was exquisite. With such precision care in selecting each actor, each character came to life in a way that is rarely seen on the television screen. Each could have portrayed a caricature – a two-dimensional person that would contribute little to the developing storyline. Yet, instead, because the actors were so uniquely cast, the roles seemed to come alive. They made it utterly believable that there were three such gentleman hovering around a single woman trying to figure out which path she was going to choose for her life.
Adding to the richness to the story that the suitors brought was the addition of a surrogate daughter. When one of the foster children that Rae Ann managed was in need of a home, the court system deemed Rae Ann the most suitable parental candidate. It is a rare thing to watch a Cinderella-figure be saddled with a nearly full-grown teenager and not disrupt the flow of the normal fairy tale story; but, in MARRY ME, a mischievous, but good-hearted daughter-figure, played by Vanessa Marano, was essential to pushing Rae Ann down the path she needed to go to figure out what she really wanted.
Also surprisingly cast were Annie Potts and David Andrews as Rae Ann’s well-meaning and humorous parents, and Elizabeth Bogush and Burgess Jenkins as Rae Ann’s tunnel-visioned sister and brother-in-law. The light-hearted bickering and familial jabs felt done with love rather than the typical nasty bitterness; and their welcoming embrace in the midst of Rae Ann’s love-life crisis made us wish that we too had been adopted into such a loving family.
Not to be left out, every heroine needs a sassy best-friend to offer words of wisdom when life gets tougher than expected. Deftly played by Danielle Nicolet, the role of Candace glistened with sincerity and a loving touch.
Even special care was used in casting Rae Ann’s pug and Harry’s great dane Charlemange; for they added a layer of love and affection that is not always felt when pets are incorporated into a romantic comedy.
It was essential to believe that all these people genuinely cared about Rae Ann and still were warm, sympathetic characters in their own right.
From the first moment to the last, these were people who we, the audience, wanted in our lives. We wanted to invite them into our homes and find a way to keep them for a while. How many TV shows or stories can we honestly say that each and every character holds a special place in our heart? But with great casting comes great characters. No matter how brilliantly a character may be written, it only comes to life when cast with the right actor. For in the right hands, the character is larger than life – he or she comes alive. The magic has been unleashed and a magical fairy tale is born.
It was therefore with great joy and surprise that I watched MARRY ME and whole-heartedly recommend that you find a way to watch it if you missed it during the holidays.
We all need a bit more magic in our lives and television magic is the perfect kind.
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).