State of the Union season review: A reminder of the good times

Rosamund Pike as Louise, Chris O’Dowd as Tom - State of the Union _ Season 1, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Parisatag Hizadeh/Confession Films/SundanceTV
Rosamund Pike as Louise, Chris O’Dowd as Tom - State of the Union _ Season 1, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Parisatag Hizadeh/Confession Films/SundanceTV /

State of the Union, the SundanceTV 10-episode, 10-minute show about a struggling marriage between Tom (Chris O’Dowd) and Louise (Rosamund Pike), is a fascinating series.

After its initial episode, State of the Union feels like it can go any direction. Will this be a gradual fall of a marriage, or will it be the start of a rebuilding?

The show does a great job at being its own thing, with both ideals in its sight. The show isn’t so much about their marriage, as often as everything comes back to it: it’s about these two people, Tom and Louise, perhaps completely different from one another but tied together by life.

More from Drama

Pike and O’Dowd are integral to the show working, and they are the perfect leads. There’s a level of compassion and idealism in the way both play their characters, where the writing and the performances blend together to marriage the reasons they both struggle to find, but ultimately want back, the way to square one.

The way the prolonged scenes play out suit their characters and their wants of each week over the ten weeks, where each time brings one or the other into the scene with a different point of contention so that there’s constantly something to play off of.

Their conversations are cyclical, even through multiple episodes. Nagging reminders of past grievances come back to light and are used against one another, in ways where the strain on their marriage realistically appears to have been there for far longer than the main issue at hand.

Watch your favorite shows on fuboTV: Watch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels with a 7-day FREE trial!

But there’s effort behind all of the difficulties, and it brings Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd to impressive places. With such a short runtime, the ten scenes play out as checking-in places, each time bringing a new wrinkle and revealing more about their characters and their lives.

Pike and O’Dowd come at each scene with a weariness and an eye for reconciliation, so that each visit brings out the best and the hardship together, and really sells the relationship. They both want better, despite better being a tough road.

SOTU_Table_0114_RT State of the Union
Chris O’Dowd as Tom, Rosamund Pike as Louise – State of the Union _ Season 1, Gallery – Photo Credit: Marc Hom/SundanceTV /

The show is at its best when Tom and Louise engage in hypothetical, where their characters are drawn completely by what one another see with their viewpoints. During Episode 6, “Nigel and Naomi,” there’s a fantastic conversation about who they would end up with if the marriage dissolved. There’s no animosity or anger, just two great actors having a fun conversation.

It’s moments like this and Episode 9, “Prison Sex,” where State of the Union makes itself highly memorable.

The show is, at its fundamental, endlessly engaging and absolutely pleasant. Even with such heavy topics like the future of marriage, State of the Union manages to always stay pleasant.

And despite those heavy topics, it’s optimistic at heart, banking on change and betterment when there’s so much to build towards. State of the Union keeps itself optimistic and hopeful, that there can be the change needed.

It’s one of the most interesting projects on television, ten simple conversations between a troubled couple. But it’s layered and with humor and care where it becomes something more, and well worth investing in.

Next. The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 trailer: 9 major takeaways you don’t want to miss. dark

State of Union airs on SundanceTV nightly on weekdays over its ten episodes starting Monday, May 6th at 10pm ET.