Usually when a network premieres a show in spring, it’s because they don’t have all that much hope for it. It’s the dumping ground for the shows they picked up for a run of a few episodes and now need to air at some point.
So when Happy Endings started last year, I wasn’t terribly hopeful. ABC was desperately looking for a show to follow their smash Modern Family. My beloved Cougar Town was delayed so they could try out Mr. Sunshine with Matthew Perry.
This being the former-Friends star’s first attempt at a sitcom post-Friends (Studio 60 was a drama…), there was a good bit of buzz around the show. It also featured Allison Janney and Andrea Anders, who was also in the much-loved-now-canceled Better Off Ted. Although Mr. Sunshine’s first episode which aired in February 2011 had good numbers, by May 2011 the ratings had become too disappointing and ABC canceled it.
I suppose they figure if people weren’t coming to see a former-Friend on TV, maybe they’d see a Friends inspired show, which leads us to Happy Endings.
The initial set-up of Happy Endings focused on a Dave and Alex (Zachary Knighton and Elisha Cuthbert, Jack Bauer’s daughter on 24) who are about to get married, when Alex leaves him at the alter. Oh, and all their friends which includes Alex’s sister Jane (Eliza Coupe from Scrubs), Jane’s husband Brad (Damon Wayans Jr. – yes those Wayans), Penny (SNL’s amazing Casey Wilson), and her ex-bf who is now gay Max (Adam Pally who steals the show).
It took the show a while to find its footing, as it usually does, but eventually what happened was – if you stuck with it – you found you were watching a show where all six of the characters has absolutely amazing chemistry. The show has managed to break out of it’s Friends shadow (even mocking the comparison) and become a great sitcom in its own right. Season 2 has even figured out what to do with Alex once they realized that Elisha Cuthbert is actually pretty darned funny and can pull of being an absolute ditz without seeming moronic.
Most importantly, last night the show avoided a key plot problem, at least for now. Dave and Alex slept together. Again. But rather than turn this isn’t a season-long drawn out saga, they took the situation, turned it humorous (Alex and Jane try to convince Dave it never actually happened), and when that didn’t take, Dave and Alex just agreed to pretend it didn’t happen so that they could stay friends. No drama. No crying. No “we were on a break”. Just like that. Who knows what the future will bring, but for now, we are spared that whole “will they or won’t they” dance that every sitcom seems to do.
Of course the main reason to be watching the show are for the Penny and Max scenes. A few weeks ago Max was in his winter hibernation mode and Adam Pally spent the entire episode acting like a bear to the point where he got his head stuck a la Winnie the Pooh. Or during that same episode Penny bought flowy pants from Bassett by Angela for Angela Bassett, though those might be overshadowed by the pyjoveralls she wore the next episode (like pajama pants…but overalls).
Last night happened to be last episode for a while and the show is on the bubble. And I’m worried. This show along with Community, Parks and Rec (also on hiatus after tonight), Cougar Town are funny and smart quirky comedies that are all in danger of cancellation. Can we really live in a world where there is no Community or Happy Endings, but there IS a Last Man Standing? How can the television people live with themselves if they trash Parks and Rec but keep on making Two and a Half Men?
People, we are better this. We deserve funny shows. So watch Happy Endings. Watch and enjoy.