Marc Maron’s self-titled and semi-autobiographical IFC comedy series has, for the last three seasons, touched on his much-lauded podcast, his stand-up career, and his long-held sobriety while mostly amplifying his insecurities and relationship inefficiencies in an effort to get laughs. But at the start of season four, following the set-up from the end of last season, Maron is boldly changing its focus to addiction and a fictional, scorched Earth relapse.
In a way, this is the darkest timeline version of Maron’s life. It’s been a year since the character’s opioid fueled meltdown and he’s lost everything — the podcast, his house, his manager, his razor, and even his cats (who now reside with Andy Kindler). Maron seems to believe that he’s one break away from bouncing back, but he has clearly run out of second chances and friends. Wasted and unwashed, he’s involved in a pills-for-sex arrangement with a woman whose name he barely recalls, and he’s living in a storage unit with a toilet bucket and a landlord with a shortening fuse.
A series of unfortunate events that led to the exodus of goodness from Maron’s life is alluded to, but never revealed in full as the setting switches to a rehab facility in the second episode, indicating a shift of focus to recovery and away from the way Maron burned his life up. Though, it’s certainly possible that we’ll see Maron work through his issues with the people in his life — Dave Anthony, his parents — as he tries to get right, allowing us the chance to see a few potentially dramatic, heartbreaking, and darkly comical moments that seem as though they might be left on the factory floor right now.
At the rehab facility, Maron’s deeply-ingrained interpersonal deficiencies collide with a palpable scratching-at-the-walls-to-get-out kind of energy — Maron isn’t ready to accept his problems or the people who are trying to help and trying to get back to where they need to be. He’s trapped, but at least he’s not in a storage unit and about to get evicted. And at least he doesn’t have a pill bottle to lean on.
The characters at the rehab facility are thinly drawn at the outset, but have room to grown. The counselor, Chris (Craig Anton), is a Maron fan with a desire to get into podcasting and an issue with privacy. Trey (Chet Hanks) is Maron’s roommate — a horrible rapper with designs on intimidating Maron. Theirs is a relationship that could prove to be quite interesting if the two become a mix-matched pair with Maron mentoring and standing in as a father figure.
The two premiere episodes do a nice job of setting the tone for a season that will doubtlessly show our “hero” attempting to make the long hard climb back up from a low place. Will Maron, the character, take a lesson from bottoming out and find real happiness in his love life and his career? Will he, at least, find peace and ease? That probably all depends on where Maron the producer wants to take the show next season, assuming there is a season five. Maron has voiced a desire to not “start becoming redundant” and advocated the need to “take a new approach” in an interview with the Observer. With that in mind, it seems equally plausible that the comic might choose to conclude the show following this assumed rebirth or that he might have another unexpected shift up his sleeve following this gutsy step away from the show’s established norm. But whether this is the beginning of the end for Maron, or just the start of a new phase, the fourth season’s off to an intriguing start that should make for compelling viewing.
Maron‘s two-part season premiere airs on IFC Wednesday at 9 p.m.