Saturday, July 6, 2013

An Unhappy Ending

Yesterday, as I pushed my way onto the 6 train through the mob of other angry 5th-of-July commuters, I found myself surrounded with ads for Coors Light when a thought popped into my head: Why is it that beer companies always advertise how cold their product is? I mean, once I leave the beverage store with a six-pack, it now becomes my responsibility to keep those beers as cold as I want, right? I could stick them in a vault made of dry ice, or leave them out on a hot beach for all you know, Coors. So what exactly makes your brand "the coldest"? To me, that's like promoting your new album by telling people how loud they can play it. Doesn't make any sense, yet no one seems to question it.

Ok, ok. So you want to know how this 7AM subway revelation is related to the sad demise of Happy Endings? Well, I got to thinking about how dumb advertisers really think we are, and that this marketing technique - where the advertisement credits the company for the one thing the consumer has total control of - is kind of like a reversal of what ABC tried to do with it's promotion of the show. Confused? Stay with me, Max.

I won't go into the whole saga here* but due to low ratings, ABC decided to mount a "Save Happy Endings" campaign, imploring people to watch the show in order to save it from being ABC. Do you see where I'm going with this? ABC essentially created a series of ads to promote a show in which they made it seem like the viewers, not the network, would be the ones to blame for it's cancellation. 

I'm sorry, WHAT? I can only speak for myself here, but as a consumer, I know what I am, and am not responsible for. Fortunately, I can control how cold my beer is, but sadly, I have no control over the fate of my favorite shows, so don't make me feel guilty for your decision, ABC! Grr. 

As you can see, this whole situation makes me testy. Let's get back to the original reason for this post: 

Why Happy Endings Is Awesome and What Episodes You Should Go Watch Right Now

We're listening...

While Happy Endings may have started out as another Friends re-tread, after only a few short episodes, it morphed into one of the fastest, funniest, and best ensemble comedies on TV. We can skip the pilot, which, while not terrible, focuses more on the show-inciting, Alex-leaves-Dave-at-the-altar plot line. As the season progressed, this quickly became the least important and least memorable part of the show, and the relationships between the characters took center stage. 

Here's a brief description of our six buddies from Chicago:

A girl after my own heart.
Alex started out as the bland one of group, but the writers quickly discovered Elisha Cuthbert's comedic chops, developing her character into the slightly slow but loveable clothing store owner we've come to know and love. She may not be the brightest bulb, but she's a loyal friend who can eat like a damn champion - two qualities that are key in my book. 

Like Alex, Dave (Zachary Knighton) also began the series as a straight-man, but soon turned into a sensitive goofball known for his food truck, his love of V-neck shirts, and his 1/16th Navajo heritage. Oh, and his on-again off-again relationship with Alex. 

Jane (Eliza Coupe) is Alex's extremely type-A sister who loves organization and competition almost as much as her husband, Brad, played by the incredible physical comedian, Daman Wayans Jr. Their mutual desire for the finer things in life and the fact that they're so passionately in love make them my favorite couple on TV, hands down. 

Adam Pally plays Max, the group's often unemployed, always unkempt hot-mess who also happens to like dudes. The other characters on the show often refer to the fact that Max isn't the stereotypical gay character that we're used to seeing, and they're right (not only because he's a huge Chicago Cubs fan who eats stale pizza in bed and literally turns into a bear in the winter), but because he's actually open about how much he loves doin' it with men - something that is still rare on network TV. 

Finally there's Penny (played by the amazing SNL alum Casey Wilson), the perpetually single, yet always optimistic PR exec who is known for her unique way of speaking (relationship = relayshe, so cute = sa-cayute) and her many failed attempts at finding love. Megan Mullally is also perfect as Penny's mother, and the interpretive dance the two perform to "Torn" is pure comedy gold. 

Happy Endings is really a live-action cartoon chock-full of call-back jokes, rapid-fire dialog, and crazy plots, yet the series is grounded in reality by its core relationships, providing that sweet balance that many other shows aim for, but never really achieve. So now that you're (hopefully) convinced, here's three episodes that you Happy Endings newbies can start out with:

1. Season 1, Episode 5 - Like Father, Like Gun : Damon Wayans guest stars as Brad's dad going through a mid-life crisis, Dave and Max have a nerf gun war, and Alex and Penny discover their secret drunk abilities.

2. Season 2, Episode 1 - Blax, Snake, Home : Jane forces Alex and Dave to be honest with each other about their annoying past relationship habits, Max discovers Brad has a secret group of black friends, and Penny's new condo seems to be haunted by a ghost intent on making her a spinster.

3. Season 2, Episode 16 - Cocktails and Dreams : Dave turns his food truck into a successful speak-easy, but the drinks he serves affect the rest of the group in a strange way. Meanwhile, Alex and Penny go on a cleanse with varying results, and Max decides how serious he wants to get with new boyfriend, Grant.

*BONUS* My favorite episode of the series is the Season 2 finale, Four Weddings and a Funeral (Minus Three Weddings and One Funeral). To me, it represents the best of what the show has to offer, but in order to really appreciate it, it helps to catch up with the rest of the episodes first.

If you're not hooked after watching those, then this show might not be for you. If you want more, Seasons 1 and 2 are currently available on DVD, and the third season should be released this fall. Until then, you can find Season 3 on projectfreetv - just don't say you heard it from me...

Finally, to all you Happy Endings fans out there, you never know - there's always hope that the show could be brought back some day in the distant future, what with so many series coming back from the dead on other networks these days. Can't wait that long? For now, check out some rejected jokes just tweeted from the show's writers, or get your Jane fix by watching Eliza Coupe's new web series, "frenemies" on

So goodbye for now, Happy Endings! At least, as Penny would say, your jokes will live on in perpe-tu-tu.

*Ok, for people who are interested, I will explain: When Happy Endings started it's third season, it was scheduled to air on Tuesdays at 9:00, putting it in direct competition with New Girl, another smart, funny "hang out" show about a group of friends in their early 30s. Since these shows attracted a similar audience, why did ABC executives move Happy Endings from the veritable TV no-man's-land of Wednesdays (where it was doing relatively well), to a time slot where it was competing with something very similar, but also much more commercially successful? I'm not sure of the answer, but what I do know is that ratings for the show dropped, and it was subsequently moved to Tuesdays at 9:30...and then Sundays at 10...and then Fridays at 8?? ABC was moving the show around so much, people could only keep up with it by recording it on DVR or watching it online (neither of which currently contribute to a show's ratings). So that's how we got to where we are today, which is, sadly, without Happy Endings to look forward to next fall.

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