I really hope you're watching "Happy Endings." And if you're not, I won't scold, but I will say you're missing a comedy that made me laugh 'til I cried last night.
We are in a mind-melting Golden Age when it comes to half-hour scripted programs these days. I don't want to label them all comedies, because worthwhile shows clocking in at under 30 minutes are all over the comedy-drama-whatever map these days. All I do know is that there are at least two dozen half-hour shows of extremely varying flavors that are well worth your time these days.
In that eclectic half-hour realm, "Happy Endings" is on the gut-busting end of the spectrum, and thank goodness for that. If it's not your cup of tea, I understand. For my part, I can't say there are many comedies that make me laugh so hard that I have to pause the DVR to wipe tears from my eyes as the rudely awakened cats on the couch next to me look on with sleepy concern, but last night's "Happy Endings" double-shot did just that.
I have to resist the strong temptation to just list a bunch of lines from last night's episodes, because I don't want to ruin them for you if you haven't seen the episodes. Suffice to say that they were both quite strong (Alan Sepinwall rounded up a few of the best moments), but the second episode, "Our Best Friend's Wedding," caused me to shriek and hoot like ... a person laughing very loudly in a strange way. I think the cats thought I was having a stroke (and my husband, who theoretically doesn't watch the show, somehow couldn't leave the room when it was on).
If you're a "Happy Endings" fan, I've no doubt that episode, especially the part concerning Brad and Max's trip to the Gay Town section of a bridal expo, took you to a happy place. If you're a waverer, please watch those episodes -- I'm pretty sure they'll put you back on the "Happy Endings" bandwagon. And if you don't watch it, well, think about what you're not doing. I'm not saying puppies and kittens might die if you don't watch this show, but can you prove they won't? I didn't think so.
All right, trying to guilt trip you into watching the show is not cool, but the fact is, I'm nervous about "Happy Endings." ABC appears to be in a cancel-y mood: "Don't Trust the B" is apparently gone, and "Happy Endings" has been bouncing around the ABC schedule like a Mexican jumping bean. A couple of Sunday outings didn't fare well, and while the show has been every bit as funny as it was in Season 2, its ratings have been iffy since then.
As executive producer Jonathan Groff told me Wednesday, "We are completely a bubble show."
"That said," he added, "I truly believe that ABC loves the show and believes in it and knows that a funny show. With this crazy-good cast, who are all going to be major comedy people in movies, [it's] is a bit of a 'lightning in a bottle' situation. So I know they'd love to make it work."
I hope they do. Elisha Cuthbert, Casey Wilson, Damon Wayans, Jr., Eliza Coupe, Adam Pally and Zachary Knighton are doing phenomenal work and the writers are churning out episodes full of ridiculous, silly, surreal and razor-sharp gems. This show really does have it all -- physical comedy, group-hang good times, an endearing fearlessness when it comes to jokes about race, gender and sexual orientation, and the kind of loopy-smart vibe that "Cougar Town" and "Archer" also have. As I've written before, the characters do exist in a joke-enhanced hyper-reality, but the show isn't heartless (well, it's a little heartless, but usually in ways that are both twisted and funny).
If everyone mourning the end of "30 Rock," missing "Better Off Ted," writing endless paeans to "Community" and anticipating the return of "Arrested Development" gave this show a chance, I'd be happy. I know that those are all cult shows that didn't get monster ratings, but if newbies and/or comedy aficionados would give "Happy Endings" a chance and if the show's audience grew just a little bit (or a lot), I'd be more optimistic about its future. So if you've ever wondered if you should check out this whizbang friend-farce, this is me saying yes, you should.
Speaking of the future, Groff shared some details of what fans can expect in upcoming Season 3 episodes, which should run through March or so at a rate of two episodes per week:
- Mark Paul Gosselaar, who's carved out a nice comedy career for himself (he was also very funny on "Don't Trust the B"), will return as Chase, who wants to ruin his former roommate Max's life, but then he "realizes Max may not have a life to ruin. So Max, resenting this, begins to build a life, with Jane's help. But only for an episode -- he'll still be Max," Groff said. Also returning: Rob Corddry as the Jane's boss, the Car Czar. "His marriage is busted up and he takes a fancy to one of the people in our group, which is a problem for Jane and Brad," Groff noted.
- David Alan Grier is guest starring as the owner of Chuckles and Huggs, the kids' gym where Brad works. "He's kind of an unstable dreamer of a guy, so Brad has to rescue the business and in doing so is reminded how much he loves business," Groff said. "He'll end up back in the finance world."
- Penny's wedding gets her to reconnect with her long-lost dad, who'll be played by Andy Richter. "He plays a failed actor who lost touch with Penny and her mom, but is now successful with a company called Roy's Hard Mimosas (canned brunch beverages)," said Groff, who added that the actor/Conan sidekick is shooting his episode this week. "Andy's been great already: funny, sweet, a guy who you forgive for not being a part of Penny's life but who you want her to be in touch with now."
- "Dave gets into a steak war with The Brazilian, a rival truck owner who uses some dirty tactics to steal Dave's customers and [his] primo parking spot," Groff said. "In a Romeo and Juliet twist, Max gets involved with the Brazilian's handsome son. Brad, a fan of star-crossed romances and business competition, is conflicted."
- To cool off an epic war between Alex and Jane (instigated by Max, of course), Brad has to take extreme measures, which include finding their Serbian nana. Obviously, there will be Serbian folk dancing: the Sestra Ples (the Sister Dance).
- "Megan Mullally and Michael McKean return as Penny's mom Dana and Dave's dad, Big Dave," Groff said. "They are going strong and have a big announcement to make, forcing Penny and Dave to once again examine their own friendship and [their] possible bizarre midlife step-sibling relationship."
"Happy Endings" airs at 9 p.m. EST and 9:30 p.m. EST on Tuesdays on ABC.