To know me is to know my love for Happy Endings. Upon meeting you, I will ask you if you’ve seen it, and if you answer yes, a 10 minute conversation simply quoting the show will follow. If you answer no, I will either give you my DVDs or my Netflix password.
On the outside, it looks like another Friends knock-off – and sure, it is. Three boys, three girls, friends in a major city – but the similarities stop there. Happy Endings takes the structure of Friends, the bitterness of Seinfeld and the zaniness of Arrested Development and throws it all into a blender.
Those comparisons are there to help ease you in, but the show is very much it’s own thing and separate from those influences. By the first few episodes of season two, it becomes the show its three season run has been known for. (Yes, we were only given three seasons — really, two and a half because the first one is so short). And if you all actually watched it while it was on TV, maybe we would have gotten more, but this is neither the time nor the place to start a fight.
Back to the plot: it’s about six friends — Max (Adam Pally), Penny (Casey Wilson), Jane (Eliza Coupe), Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.), Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) — who live in Chicago. The series opens up with Alex set to marry Dave but she ends up leaving him at the alter. It’s also one of the few plot points that’s really carried throughout the show. Unlike Friends or How I Met Your Mother, no character on Happy Endings is truly in search of love — except for Penny who is on a whole other level. In fact, they’re really not in search of a lot. Instead, they provide ah-mah-zing (you’ll understand once you start watching) and perfectly timed pop-culture references while they shoot out jokes every minute (it’s more like a joke a second). Whether you’re a fan of TV, pop-culture, movies, or even referential humor, Happy Endings does all that and they do it so well without getting lost in it.
Happy Endings moves a mile-a-minute which is both a turn on and turn off. It’s quick, really quick, maybe too quick. I’ve re-watched the entire series maybe four times now and I’m still picking up on jokes or references I may have missed or didn’t get before. It’s also incredibly zany. Like, it defines zaniness. It’s very hyper, very chaotic and very silly. To me, that makes for an amazing sitcom and for some, it makes for a headache. Happy Endings moves to fast that either you keep up with it or you get left behind. IT’S UP TO YOU.
The show does excel for two reasons: it’s cast and it’s writing. David Schwimmer once said that he realized early on how special the chemistry was between him and the rest of the Friends cast. It’s very rare to get a group of actors together and have them all have chemistry with one another. The cast of Happy Endings comes pretty close to that specialness. Truthfully, in the beginning, it was not balanced. Casey Wilson (Penny) was fresh from Saturday Night Live and she, in my opinion, was the strongest of the cast – in it’s beginning at least. But once the show progresses, the cast starts to blend and, guys, by the end of the series, Elisha Cuthbert – an actress not entirely known for her comedic timing – becomes a scene stealer.
The show is a lesson is comedy, in delivery, in everything related to what a modern sitcom should be and you should watch it — like right now. Stop reading this and go.