Scenes From a Marriage

scenes from a marriage tv show

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

When you look at your spouse, can you understand how they’re feeling? Are you able to truly see into their soul, past the years of hurt and dysfunction and pull out the secret thoughts they’ve tightly grasped? And even if you could, would you be getting the full truth? 

Jonathan and Mira aren’t sure. 

On the outside, they seem to have a functional, loving marriage.

Jonathan is a Jewish psychology professor who carries the parental weight at home for their only daughter. He’s tender, kind and outspoken. He has a deep love for his own theories, though they often overpower those around him.

And Mira? She’s a tech guru, carrying the daily stresses that come along with the pressure to provide. She’s quiet, indecisive, introspective and paralyzed by an inability to communicate how she truly feels.

In fact, you could say that miscommunication has defined Jonathan and Mira. They both harbor deep thoughts and opinions about the other, about the way things have played out versus the way they were imagined. Yet, isn’t this true of every marriage? It seems to be. And the longer they live in a place of unmet expectations and secret hurt, the easier it becomes to allow their marriage to unravel, one misstep at a time. 

What You See Is Not What You Get

Scenes From a Marriage is based on the 1973 Swedish series, by director Ingmar Bergman, of the same name. And it focuses on psychology professor Jonathan and his breadwinning wife, Mira, as layers of their marriage are peeled away. What’s left is an unmistakable wreck.  

To viewers on the outside looking in, this mess is evident within the first few minutes. Complex seems too shallow a word, especially for those who are married and can understand just what these characters are going through. 

But it’s not just Jonathan and Mira. It’s their friends too; friends who discuss their polyamorous marriage, jealousy, love and the desire for passion and freedom. Jonathan and Mira say that they believe in maintaining an equilibrium within their marriage, but they have no idea how to do this in a healthy way. 

And this is where the show’s TV-MA rating becomes most evident. We hear conversations about abortion and watch a woman take a pill to begin to the process of aborting her baby chemically. Intimate moments between a same-sex couple are shown, and explicit sex scenes are reportedly in the future (cue the HBO trademark). Gender pronouns are questioned, polyamorous marriages are praised, and language can be both foul and heavy. 

This isn’t anything new for HBO. But if you were hoping for a positive look into a healthy marriage, look elsewhere. Hopelessness and disintegration are the defining characteristics of this new series. 

Episode Reviews

Sept. 12, 2021: “Innocence & Panic”

After a long, emotionally draining day, Mira and Jonathan receive an unexpected surprise that leaves them rethinking their future plans. 

Mira and Jonathan have friends, Peter and Kate, over for dinner and they discuss their polyamorous marriage. They say that it began when Peter was found to be unfaithful with multiple women. Now, Peter’s wife, Kate, has just ended a relationship with a lover, and Peter is jealous that she fell in love with him. Jonathan tells Peter it’s better to conquer desire than to give into it, but Peter tells him that’s just repression. 

Mira’s friend kisses her, but she feels uncomfortable and stops the interaction. A woman sports a cleavage-baring top. Mira wears a nightgown without a bra (which is evident). Jonathan says that he went to a single-gender school and didn’t touch women until he met Mira. 

Jonathan jokingly says that even if he and Mira have a boy, they will raise it as a girl either way. An interviewer asks Jonathan and Mira which gender pronouns they prefer, as she is studying how evolving gender norms affect monogamous marriages. 

Mira decides to get an abortion, even though it’s evident that Jonathan does not want her to do so (although he never actually voices this opinion). It’s also unclear as to whether Mira wants this or not, though she does say she wants to avoid heavy postpartum depression like she had with her first child. Jonathan suggests that maybe God wants them to have a baby, especially since the conception seems unexpected. 

Mira shares that she dated many emotionally abusive men in the past. Kate says that she sometimes lays in bed and thinks of ways to torture her husband. 

God’s name is misused once. The f-word is used four times and the s-word is heard three times. Men and women consume wine and hard liquor. 

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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