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Character Analysis: Married’s Jenny Slate Dissects Jess [INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: Matthias Clamer/FX
Photo Credit: Matthias Clamer/FX

WARNING: Mild spoilers for FX’s Married

On FX’s Married, Russ and Lina are the husband and wife at the heart of the series. But it’s their friends AJ and Jess that provide much of the show’s edge. Jess is a flawed, layered, unpredictable wild child that has a twisted perspective on life and gets herself into some crazy situations. The beauty is seeing how she gets herself out of trouble and if she even wants to get herself out of trouble. We don’t know how she’s done it but actress/comedian Jenny Slate (Parks and Recreation, House of Lies, Obvious Child) has turned Jess into a watchable and rootable character despite all those flaws. She’s quickly become one of the best reasons to tune in to Married.

TV Goodness recently took part in a press call with Slate where she shared her thoughts and analysis on the hot mess that is Jess.

Jess has self-worth issues

Jenny Slate: I think Jess operates off of a central need…she’s just trying to find out what her worth is and where her worth stems from. I think she knows that there’s nothing she could do that would make Russ abandon their friendship, and I think she feels, in a way, that Lina is stuck with her because Lina and Russ are unified.

How Slate sees Jess’ backstory

Jenny: I think she has spent most of her life being fun, being a party girl, being like some weird combination of insecure and completely aggressive in terms of how she lived her life, you know, just really go in, and get it. I think that drive comes from feeling insecure and not having a place. I see her as someone who has probably made some sort of silly mistake in high school where she hooked up with some guy and he ended up calling her a slut or something, and she got labeled, and she has a chip on her shoulder when she kind of feels like, ‘Hey, we’re all trying to go for it, why was it me?’ Then she’s also wondering well, ‘Was it me because I’m really sexy, or am I sexy? Is that the currency that I’m working with here?’

On Jess being married to an older man, Shep (played by Mad About You‘s Paul Reiser)

Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

Jenny: I think he does turn her on. I think she likes it. I think she thinks it’s kind of dangerous and taboo, and I think she saw him as somebody powerful and as a father figure to her, but now he’s lost his job. They have a baby. She’s not 22 anymore, and she just isn’t really sure where she fits, and if she’s going to fit. I think when she gets the chance to stick her head into Russ and Lina’s life, she acts a bit free radical, in a way. She just wants to be the driving force. She wants to be someone making assertions; whether or not she’s making it better or worse, she just wants to be someone who has the power to change stuff and to make stuff happen, because I think in her own life, she’s just not sure if she has any power at all.

On Jess’ not-so-wise ways

Jenny: Sometimes I read the things that Jess does to Shep and it makes me really upset. I think she is not without blame. She is a flawed character, and she’s sensitive, and she is not that wise. She is just truly not very wise. Any bit of wisdom she has comes from the fact that at least she does not deny the darkness, and she’s not necessarily comfortable with it, but she’s with it. She is partnered up with it, and it’s hard sometimes to think of her doing something like sexting the neighbor. But what makes it easier is that Shep — in a sense, he is not an idiot, and he knows that he married somebody who needs attention, and he knows that that is a flaw that doesn’t have a lot of power to it.

More on Jess and Shep and the sexting the neighbor episode

Jenny: I like that moment of tenderness at the end where it’s just kind of like, well, you married me, and I married you, and we both know what we’re doing here; but in general, what we have together is so much better than what we have apart. The damage we do together at least adds something to our union rather than the damage that we would do apart, which would probably set us apart from the world in general.

Now that we have sufficiently dissected Jess’ psyche, here’s what’s you need to know about tonight’s episode, “Uncool.”

Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

Synopsis: An overdue orthodontist bill forces Russ and Lina to be uncool. Meanwhile, Jess helps Lina with her resume.

Married airs Thursdays at 10/9c on FX.

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