When I realized that I had more to say about Happy Endings that would appropriately fit into the little blurbs we review our usual comedies in I decided that just this once, Happy Endings would receive it’s own little post. I jumped in agave it a chance last night and at the end of the (smartly scheduled) two episodes, I was satisfied. I’ve decided that I’ll watch it again and probably enjoy it. I’m thrilled.
I must admit that recently I’ve lost some of my wide-eyed sparkling amazed view of television and become more cynical than I’d like to. A few of my favourite shows seemed to by letting me down and there wasn’t much new warm & fuzzy glow of great TV light on the horizon. I decided to trust the buzz surrounding Happy Endings, and was especially encouraged by last minute tweets from Alison Brie and Nathan Fillion.
I like the premise, it’s still the basic group of friends sit com, but it was oddly unique in a way that I hope is explored as the season unfolds. The writers managed the incredibly difficult task of very quickly making each character likable, or at least interesting almost immediately. At the first commercial break of happy Endings I was thinking, I wanna see where this goes, and that’s a good sign.
The story kicks off at the wedding of two of our main characters, and as Dave pours his heart out in his vows to his wife-to-be Alex, a rogue rollerblader enters the church and Alex flees down the aisle behind him in full-gown runaway bride style. Not is all what it seems in the land of Happy Endings. Said anonymous rollerblader was not a secret lover, or anyone special at all. It was Alex’s own second thoughts that led her to abandon the wedding and take off on their honeymoon solo only to return with a head full of “white trash tourist braids” and to find a high school skank naked in the apartment formally shared by her and her finace.
In the first two episodes we’ve seen Dave mope, move on – get wrapped up in an insane relationship with a fedora wearing girl named Andrea (pronounced UN-drea), then break it off with no damage at her grandmother’s funeral. Alex has found a roommate who put her on a web-cam for profit, and Penny scared off a new beau by pretending to by turning 26… and Jewish… and a whole pile of other things. Penny also tries to get Max to be her gay husband, and when that fails, we figure out that Penny is in fact the offensively gay stereotype of the group. We love her by then. It’s fast, hilarious, strange and I love it.
What makes this “friends-type” sitcom a little special are the little quirks that just make the show a little extra goofy. I like to call these quirks Bill Lawrence-isms. Just tiny jokes that continue to run through an episode and possibly the series. These are the quirks that made Scrubs, and now Cougar Town, extra special. How I Met Your Mother often carries a similar type of joke but without the same strange subtlety.
The running mini-gag from “The Quicksand Girlfriend” is obvious, “chicksand”. A phrase Brad tried to make into a thing when describing the quagmire disaster of a relationship Dave and entered with UNndrea, moving fast with no signs of escape. By the end of the episode several other characters had adopted the phrase, Max who initially deemed it terrible and not a word had brought it into his vocabulary. Even stranger, the priest at UNdrea’s grandmother’s funeral ekes out the phrase as a final kick to the strange happening. It’s a fun little joke that spreads through the shows little ‘verse’. I dig it.
I love Eliza Coupe, I was one of those weirdoes who watched Scrubs until its final strange days in season 9, alt. titled [Med School]. She totally kicked butt in that role and after her fantastic guest spot as Agent Robin Volhers I’m excited to have her back on the small screen full time. Coupe (Jane) has a great presence on screen that I really enjoy, she draws the energy of the scene which is a great balance to the dynamic of the women of the show compared with the nearly waifishness of Elisha Cuthbert (Alex) and the over the top performance of Casey Wilson (Penny).
As for the dudes. I like them all and they balance well. What I especially like is that none of them are tucked away into little types. Brad doesn’t spend their time at the bar reminding everyone that he’s married, instead he’s the funny supportive friend who can be pretty goofy at time. Max is definitely the gay one, but not in the “offensively stereotypical” way, but that’s one of the plots of episode 2. Dave is sort of the central guy, the plain one who will probably spend the rest of the season getting himself into silly trouble with random ladies and making it worse by taking the advice from his friends. He’s likable and cute, and will be carrying reasonable tension with Alex, also in the group who left him at the alter.
I look forward to more Happy Endings joining the ranks of the kinda sorta totally awesome comedy night has thrown together for Wednesdays along with Modern Family and Cougar Town (back next week!)
Other little things I loved:
- The 30th Birthday Cake, followed by an apology cake the next day
- it’s like if Paul Rudd gave up – on if Max being chubby is going to be a thing
- Take your bra off and lets make a salad – Jane to Alex when they discover how much cash the ex-roomate’s webcam biz brought in.
- Random celebrity/pop culture references; Paul Rudd, Dane Cook (strategy for losing a girl, Kathy Griffin (you know you’re gay when) and Ke$ha!
Did you dig Happy Endings? Which of the characters worked the best for you? Do you think the quirky fun can be maintained over the season? I certainly hope so!