In case you hadn’t noticed, a show about a group of six friends living in the city is currently on TV and is one of the funniest shows around. No, I’m not talking about Friends, but in fact ABC’s hilarious sitcom Happy Endings, which is currently in its third season. The show takes place in Chicago and centers around Penny Hartz (Casey Wilson, Saturday Night Live), Brad Williams (Damon Wayans, Jr., the son of the guy from My Wife and Kids), Max Blum (Adam Pally), Dave Rose (Zachary Knighton, an episode of SVU), and Jane Kirkovich (Eliza Coupe) and her younger sister Alex (Elisha Cuthbert, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR). While this show has a similar concept to Friends, it’s different in many ways. Happy Endings is a more current, sillier, goofier, fast-paced version of the NBC comedy we all know and love.
Happy Endings uses the construct of six friends living in the city as its base and builds the show around this concept in a way that’s fresh, witty, and unique; relationship dynamics are explored in new ways and culturally relevant topics are integrated throughout the episodes. One of the funniest aspects of the show is its cultural references, which range from one-liners and pun-heavy episode titles (“You’ve Got Male”, “The Shershow Redemption”, “Blax, Snake, Home”, “The Butterfly Effect Effect”, “Cazsh Dummy Spillionaires” and “Boys II Menorah” to name a few) to full on episode structures. The dialog is fast-paced and sharp and the characters often work off one another to build jokes that always seem to escalate into something that’s somehow both completely random and totally on point. The show deconstructs stereotypes and constructs three-dimensional characters that each contribute to the show in their own unique way.
Childhood friends Penny and Dave became friends with Brad and Max while in college. Penny and Max dated, and while they were going out Max and Brad went on MTV’s The Real World: Sacramento in 2002 (the season never aired because one of the roommates burned down the house). Eventually Penny learned that Max is gay and he became her gay best friend (à la Will & Grace). While on The Real World, Penny and Dave visited the guys and brought along their other childhood friends, Jane and Alex. Jane and Brad didn’t hit it off initially, though they eventually began dating and got married. Dave and Alex also began dating at some point and the series opens with their wedding, which is disrupted when Alex leaves Dave at the altar and runs off with another guy.
Penny is the group’s perpetual singleton, constantly worrying about becoming an old spinster and constantly finding bad boyfriends. She likes using abbrevs and saying that things are “am-AHH-zing.” Though she’s known Dave, Jane, and Alex since childhood, she’s perhaps closest with Max, the group’s slobby manchild. The two help each other with their respective love lives and are always there for one another, whether it be to team up for the annual “Rosalita’s Run” scavenger hunt, babysit Max’s niece and nephew, or “misery” each other. The duo even dressed in a mother-and-baby costume one year for Halloween. It takes a true friend to wear this costume all night. Alex is the group’s token dimwit. Often times she won’t get a reference or innuendo, so when she does she views it as a small victory. Alex loves rom-coms and once attended a Rom-Com Con. She thought that she didn’t have much in common with her brother-in-law until she learned that Brad has an interest in romantic comedies as well. Even though Alex and Dave did not get married, they were able to become friends and continue hanging out with the group. Dave moved in with Max and Alex moved in with Penny. Dave is the group’s (self appointed) “cool guy.” He uses V-neck T-shirts and his 1/16 Navajo heritage to encapsulate his “coolness,” which of course is quickly dismissed by his friends. Brad and Jane live in a condo and proudly maintain a luxurious lifestyle. Jane is a perfectionist, super competitive, and an excellent negotiator, and Brad often shows his effeminate side around Jane, while maintaining a more “manly” demeanor around the rest of the gang.
The group has had a number of career ups and downs. Penny works in PR and Alex owns a clothing boutique called Xela, which usually has little to no customers. At one point, she got a talking parrot for the store, though unfortunately said parrot was both racist and homophobic, which did not go over well with Brad and Max. Dave quits his office job and pursues his interest in the food business by opening a food truck called “Steak Me Home Tonight,” which is met with varying success. Max is perpetually unemployed, save for the time when he drove a limo. Brad works in business and Jane snags a job in car sales because of her negotiating abilities.
With help from awesome guest stars such as Max Greenfield, Megan Mullally, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, David Walton, Abby Elliott, and Bobby Moynihan, Happy Endings brings a new dimension to today’s comedy landscape. It always feels fresh and current and is certainly never dull. Where else on TV would you see a group of grown adults dressed up for Halloween as the Marionette Jackson 5? Where else would the mentioning of a Rom-Com Con spiral into a list of potential conventions including Butter-Pecan Con, Breaking-Into-Song Con and many more Cons? And where else would you find a dancing Santa Claus figurine, called Hip-Hop Santa, that incites dance-offs each yuletide season? With everything from pranks to kickball, hipsters to speakeasies, Bar Mitzvah Hypers to all-male Madonna cover bands, and Sinbad ventriloquist dummies to Ellen dancing, Happy Endings delivers hilarious episodes week after week. The remainder of season 3 will air on Fridays with two episodes at 8:00 and 8:30pm EST. The fate of the show has yet to be announced, so I can only hope that it will be renewed for a fourth season so we can all continue enjoying the group’s wacky, zany, sometimes disastrous, always hilarious adventures.
Things to consider:
- A sequel to FINDING NEMO called FINDING DORY will be released in 2015. Read more about it here!
- YA author Sarah Dessen will be releasing a new book in June called The Moon and More. Read more about it here!
Follow me on Twitter: @sdexta