Happy Surprises

When I initially saw promotions last year for the new show Happy Endings, I dismissed it as a new attempt at Friends.  Six attractive urbanite pals who hang out together a lot.  By the end of the first season, I was thinking, “Wow, that was a pretty successful update of Friends.”

I mean that in a positive way.  My initial willingness to watch was that I found Eliza Coupe to be one of the best parts of the final season of Scrubs.  But what I found was a strong cast and a great set of characters.  Each character has their own quirks, and avoid being strict “type” characters.  Coupe and Damon Wayan’s Jr are the only married couple in the circle of friends, with Coupe being a straight laced person who tries to be up to date with “cool”-yet really just does not understand it.  Wayans Jr plays Brad as cool, but only on the surface, with his friends, he becomes much more geekish.

Penny (Casey Wilson) could simply have been the desperate for a boyfriend single girl.  Instead, she is the desperate free sprit.  Or at least thinks she is a free spirit.  Then there is Max (Adam Pally).  Max is the gay guy in the mix.  He’s unkempt and ambitiously lazy, trying to avoid work.  He is full of sarcasm and tries to help his friends-but often being capable of messing it up by…well, not caring enough.

In the beginning, the show focused most heavily on Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton) , a couple who were set to be married until Alex suffered cold feet and left Dave at the altar.  The early stories were about the two coming to terms and rebuilding their lives-and relationship.  It also showed how their friend circle dealt with it (sarcasm and denial played big roles). 

Rather than giving us another Ross and Rachel, endlessly dragging out a will they won’t they game, Happy Endings has settled into a resolved friendship with no real tension.  This is a real relief, as it allows the show to focus on the friends and their quirks.  The writers take typical sit com territory and tweak it into fun crazy events.  Really, the show melds a Seinfeld sensibility and Friends mentality into a an enjoyable cohesive mix that generates plenty of laughs.

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