The pilot episode begins with Jamie confronting Paul about not having had sex in five days. Paul tells Jamie that life just gets in the way. He has 2:00am shoots he has to do, while she's running back and forth between conferences. The two agree to set tonight aside as a "do nothing" type of night, which includes dinner and sex by 9:00pm. Of course, if things went smoothly, there would be no need for a show. Jamie suddenly remembers that they had made dinner plans with their friends Fran and Mark. Based on context, we find out that Fran and Mark are Jamie's friends that Paul seemed to have inherited. That's why he has no problems with ditching their plans, like they ditch so many plans with Fran and Mark, because as he says it, "We don't like them."
Enter Jamie's sister, Lisa. Lisa is hanging out with Jamie, lamenting about the latest guy that she's broken up with. She claims that Jamie has the perfect husband, while Jamie lets her know that no one is absolutely perfect. Paul enters the kitchen, and we see here that he is really uncomfortable having Lisa around. He tries to ask about her new boyfriend, but Jamie immediately puts the kibosh on that question. Instead, he asks about her car, which is also a bad idea, because Lisa informs him that someone stole her car stereo and slashed her new seats. We can tell here that Lisa is a bit neurotic, having been in the hospital recently for having a panic attack. When asked about her car being insured, she suddenly realizes that she had forgotten to send in her premium. Now we halfway see why Paul is so bothered by her.
Paul summons Jamie to the living room, where he asks why lisa is there, adding that she comes over every night, adament that she is spoiling their sex night. Of course, Jamie thinks Paul is making a big deal about it. To counter Jamie's thoughts, Paul insists that his friend, Selby, come over as well. He goes to call him, and Jamie loses her mind over it. So far we find out that Paul can't stand Lisa, and Jamie can't stand Selby. Paul lays down a suggestion that if Lisa goes home, then he'll call off Selby. The two argue for a minute, and then the doorbell rings.
In a bit that was replayed ad naseum on the pilot's trailer all over NBC (I remember), Paul and Jamie argue until Jamie pulls open the door for Mark and Fran, their moods instantly change, and with smiling faces they both greet their friends with a big "Hiiiiii!"
After a quick commercial, we find ourselves back in the kitchen with Jamie pressing the hell out of her frozen lasagna trying to thin it as much as possible so that it would appear that there is more than there actually is. The two argue some more, Lisa comes in and says she should go home and change because she didn't know there would be people coming over. Paul bites back with, "Neither did we!" Fran comes in and she's looking for ice. Paul jests that she could chip some off his wife's mood. Jamie informs Paul that bringing home ice was the one thing she asked him to do. Paul says that Selby is bringing the ice.
Fran informs Paul that Selby has arrived and he's already torturing her husband. In the living room, Selby is on the couch with Mark, asking him innapropriate questions about his love life. Paul has Selby play along with his ruse that he had asked him to bring ice. When they approach Jamie with this routine in the kitchen she sees right through it and calls them the "Abbott and Costello of Liars." Eventually, everyone begins to congregate in the kitchen. Paul announces that everyone should get out so he can fight with his spouse in private. The dinner party adjourns to the living room, picking up various knicks knacks from the kitchen along the way.
The Buchmans have it out in the kitchen. Jamie says she didn't realize things would be so hard. Marriage is supposed to be different than this. Paul says that marriage is putting up with each other's crap. Jamie continues to want to argue, and Paul takes her in a loving embrace and kisses his wife.
The cavorting doesn't end there. Jamie runs to the living room and tells everyone not to come into the kitchen for awhile, because there is a big surprise. And away they go! In their own kitchen, at their own dinner party, the Buchmans are getting it on. Meanwhile, in the living room, the guests are wondering what the surprise could be. They set the table and are sitting at it when they hear strange noises coming from the kitchen.
The only one that seems to have figured it out was Lisa, as she stops Fran from entering at point, exclaiming to her that "you cannot go in there." The funniest line in the episode belonged to Jamie during the post-coital pillow talk. She says, "This is the most fun we've ever had with Fran and Mark here."
We suddenly transition to everyone grabbing their coats and leaving after dinner. Lisa is insisting on taking the train, while everyone is trying to talk her into taking a cab. Fran tells her that the train is full of degenerates. "Then, how am I ever going to meet anyone if I take a cab?" The only one left after all this is Selby, who is watching television with Murray. Jamie starts to hint that he should go home, but it doesn't take. Paul tosses Selby his coat and begins to walk him out. He makes a quick joke about the people in Superman's office not realizing he's Clark Kent. "These people are reporters!" As Paul is herding Selby out the door, Selby makes a last ditch effort to get break his best friend, telling him that he has a date with a dancer, and she has a sister. Paul says goodnight, and tells Selby that one day he'll understand.
The episode ends with a little pillow talk. Paul reassures Jamie that they haven't lost the magic. It's only been five months, guys! They say their goodnights, and Paul says that Jamie has officially run out of things to worry about. Before the lights go out and the credits roll, Jamie asks, "Are we having Thanksgiving with your parents or mine?" "I thought they'd just go visit you at the institution," Paul jokes. And with that, the first episode of Mad About You is in the books. So far, we've established the two main characters as well as what looks to be the recurring ones.
Mark seems like a good natured guy whose innocence gets him into jams every now and then. This is evident by him putting his foot in his mouth at one point in the episode when he invites the Buchmans to go with him and Fran on their cruise because, "the company would be nice." Of course, Fran takes offense to this, because it seems like he's suggesting her company isn't good enough.
Lisa is a bit of a wacko who seems like she doesn't have a handle on adult life, as we saw with the cab incident. She is actually very smart, as she was the only one who figured out that Paul and Jamie were having sex in their kitchen. She later protests when Fran and Mark offer to pay for her cab ride back home.
Selby is Selby. He's a single guy in his 30s who normally would be a bad influence on a married guy, but it seems like Paul can handle himself around Selby. I used to be Selby when it came to my married friends. I wouldn't suggest they cheat on their spouse or anything, but I had a "come on, live a little" attitude about certain things.