It’s been a minute since Marlon Wayans starred in his own broadcast network comedy. From 1995 – 1999, he and his brother Shawn headlined the WB sitcom,Â The Wayans Bros.
Starting tonight he goes solo to star in an NBC comedy named after him. Marlon is a fun ride of a show that’s energetic, a little exhausting, and features a cast lucky and talented enough to have already developed a nice chemistry.
The youngest Wayans brother plays Marlon Wayne, a social media star-slash-brand influencer, who shares a friendly yet codependent relationship with his ex-wife, Ashley (Essence Atkins). They’re divorced but they spend a lot of quality time together and not just because they share two kids.
Boundaries don’t mean a thing to Marlon. He’s all up in his ex’s business at all times. He’s not beyond building a luxury fort in Ashley’s house. Or sneaking up on his family when shooting his hit videos (recording every single one of their viral-inducing reactions, of course). Or freaking out when his ex-wife decides to get back in the dating game.
“This is me. It’s like someone put an IV into my vein and took everything and put it on the screen.” Wayans said when the cast and Marlon EP Christopher Moynihan gathered at an NBCUniversal Summer Press Day event held earlier this year. “It’s literally based on my life, my relationship with my kids, my relationship with their mom.”
When faced with life’s problems, situations or obstacles, Marlon often unloads one of his trademark riffs or rants. When he’s in riff/rant mode, it’s best everyone gets out of his way. They require a lot of room. It’s not simply what he says but the way he says it, which is usually in an over-the-top fashion.
“I am overâ€‘theâ€‘top,” the comedian explained. “Here’s how overâ€‘theâ€‘top I am as a parent. I’m loving, right, but sometimes inappropriate. My kids [were] asked in an interview â€‘â€‘ they said, ‘Hey, one word to describe your father.’ And my kids looked at each other, and they said, ‘Inappropriate.'”
His TV alter ego is equally adept at spewing some seriously inappropriate comments, which in turn creates awkward moment after awkward moment.
“I don’t come from a bad place. I always had this gift to say the craziest things,” Wayans continued. “My best friend is [actor] Omar Epps, right? And we went to a performing arts high school together. He would say the same joke I said, and he would get slapped. I would say it, and girls would be, like, ‘Marlon, you’re so silly.’ It’s just a gift, and I always wanted to bring that to television and just be me. That’s all.”
While Marlon is a scripted series, there’s a lot of room for improv. And a lot of opportunities to break when faced with Hurricane Wayans.
“The great thing about this show is that we do it as scripted, and then they let us play,” said Atkins. “We definitely get to be incredibly improvisational, which is wonderful for us as actors. We have an amazingly supportive executive producer team that allows us to play and create and welcomes our input. So it’s a great time. And yes, we definitely do break.”
Wayans told a different story where Atkins is concerned: “Actually, you’re really good, Essence. Essence sits there, and Diallo [Riddle], the writer in him is like, ‘What am I going to say the next time he says it that way?’ Bresha [Webb], there is footage of you literally, in the scene, like, ‘Ahahaha, he’s stupid.’
“No one knows what he’s going to say next, including him,” said Moynihan.
“I don’t,” Wayans agreed.
Here’s what else you need to know about Marlon:
NBC’s Official Series Synopsis
Loosely inspired by the real life of star Marlon Wayans, this update to the classic family comedy centers on a loving (but sometimes inappropriate) father committed to co-parenting his two kids with his very-together ex-wife. While his misguided fatherly advice, unstoppable larger-than-life personality and unpredictable Internet superstardom might get in the way sometimes, for Marlon family really always does come first â€” even if heâ€™s the biggest kid of all.
The Premiere Date: Wednesday August 16 (two episodes)
Synopses for First Two Episodes
Exes Marlon (Marlon Wayans) and Ashley (Essence Atkins) try a friendly divorce for their children’s sake, but things get tricky when Ashley decides to date again. Marlon struggles to keep a sponsor for his online channel, The Marlon Way. Bresha Webb, Diallo Riddle, Notlim Taylor and Amir O’Neil also star.
CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET
Ashley (Essence Atkins) is shocked to learn that Marlon (Marlon Wayans) has a storage unit crammed full of things from when they were married and challenges him to have a yard sale to part with it all. Bresha Webb, Diallo Riddle, Notlim Taylor and Amir O’Neil also star.
Fun Fact: Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins have now appeared in five projects together. This includes Atkins guest starring in an episode of The Wayans Bros. Plus the two play a couple in the movies A Haunted House and A Haunted House 2.
Guest Star Goodness: In the premiere episode, Boris Kodjoe guest stars as a man who goest out with Ashley. You can imagine how Marlon’s ends up reacting. Kodjoe is best known for his roles in the TV version of the movie Soul Food, NBC’s short-lived series Undercovers, BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood and he currently stars as a doctor in the CBS drama Code Black.
What You Need to Know aboutÂ Marlon Wayans:Â He stars as Marlon Wayne and he is one of the show’s executive producers. In addition to his WB sitcom, his TV credits include In Living Color, Animals, Childrens Hospital and Second Generation Wayans. His movies include White Chicks, the Scary Movie franchise and Requiem for a Dream.
What You Need to Know about Essence Atkins: She plays Ashley Wayne and her small screen credits include Under One Roof, Smart Guy, Half & Half and the TV movies Girlfriends Getaway and Girlfriends Getaway 2.
What You Need to Know about Diallo Riddle: He’s Stevie, “Marlon’s best friend/business manager/the guy sleeping on his couch for the last two years. They went to college together, and my character once gave him a piece of advice, which is ‘I think you would be a social media star.'”
Riddle’s writing credits include Comedy Central’s Chocolate News, a two-year stint on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Tracy Morgan’s upcoming TBS comedy, The Last O.G. As an actor, he’s appeared in four episodes of HBO’s Silicon Valley.
What You Need to Know about Bresha Webb: She plays Yvette. According to Webb: “I’m the messy best friend to Essence Atkins’ Ashley. I just give her the worst advice. That’s my purpose. We have a business together. We’re interior designers, and I’m giving her a new license to fun. Now that she’s been a mom and raising three kids, essentially, with Marlon, I’m like this friend that just messes up everything.”
Webb’s TV credits include six season ten episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, where she guest starred as Teresa Morris, a mother of a sick kid. She and her husband attempt to sue Bailey after she goes ahead with a treatment against the parents’ wishes. She also starred in the short-lived NBC comedyÂ Truth Be Told alongside Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Vanessa Lachey and Tone Bell.
What You Need to Know about Notlim Taylor and Amir O’Neil: They play Marlon and Ashley’s kids Marley and Zack. Taylor’s TV credits: BET’s Real Husband’s of Hollywood, Nickelodeon’s Instant Mom and ABC’s Black-ish. Plus she starred in the American Girl movie Grace Stirs Up Success. As for O’Neil, he was in the TV One movie White Water and he played Darren Mann in the Bounce TV series Mann and Wife.
On Taylor and O’Neil: “These guys, they have amazing talent within itself. And all of us as a group, we are extremely protective of each other and extremely supportive of each other,” Atkins said. “But we give them the freedom to flourish. We don’t think of them as talking heads, because they’re not. They have their own sense of comedy and timing and humor, and we give them an opportunity to also come to the table with their own take on things and their own improvisation. So I think the best gift that we can offer them, as well as each other, is liberty to fail. If it doesn’t work, we’ll try it again, and we’ll keep going until it does.”
“I think she gonna be all right,” Wayans added while pointing to Taylor. About O’Neil, he joked, “That boy, I worry about him sometimes.”
Marlon premieres tonight at 9/8c on NBC.
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