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By Natalie DiMaria · May 6, 2013
These days it seems as though sitcoms are a dime a dozen. Gone are the times of TGIF lineups and classic television series, leaving us instead with fleeting shows that seem to disappear just as quickly as their 30-second commercials.In our current fast-paced media frenzy we run the risk of missing out on some solid and well-written television shows, of which Happy Endings is a perfect example.
Happy Endings was created by David Caspe and premiered in 2011 to modest reviews. The show was initially criticized for bearing too much resemblance to the common ensemble sitcom, namely Friends. Though admittedly Caspe’s creation does mimic the the “original” with a group of six friends among which includes siblings and romantic relationships, he has traded the 1990’s New York coffee shop for a Chicago bar and replaced the laugh track with impeccable wit, well crafted characters, and a hilarious nod to pop culture. To put it simply, this series truly succeeds where so many others have tried and failed.
One of the ways Happy Endings stands out from the rest is the ingenuity of the characters. Caspe has avoided all the popular character stereotypes and has instead done quite the opposite. Take for example, Max Blum (Adam Pally). We’re all used to seeing homosexual men portrayed on TV shows as effeminate caricatures, however Max is sloppy, crude, unemployed and uncultured. You would sooner take him for a “bro” than the token gay friend, which in fact is quite refreshing.
The season three finale, “Brothas & Sisters,” had the gang preparing for the nuptials of Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Alex Kerkovich’s (Elisha Cuthbert) eldest sister Brooke (a cameo performance by Stephanie March). We saw Jane, an OCD type A personality, become vulnerable for the first time under the discontent of her even more controlling older sister. While Jane was busy obsessively planning her sister’s wedding, Alex was focused on keeping her breakup from Dave (Zachary Knighton) a secret from the rest of the group, a plan that inevitably failed.
Penny (Casey Wilson) and Max (who share a special relationship, as they once dated before Max came out), worked to keep the breakup gossip from spreading at the wedding by making up stories about them, suggesting that Alex was actually happily pregnant with Dave’s baby. The finale ended tied up in a proverbial bow as Jane and her older sister made amends after years of hostility and Alex and Dave made peace with their decision to amicably split.
The best part of the finale for me was when Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.), Jane’s African-American husband met Brooke’s future husband Elliot (James Lesure) who also happens to be African American. Brad was notably excited at the meeting, saying, “Finally another Elliot. I haven’t hung out with another Elliot in like two years, man. Let’s get you a drink, my Elliot.”
As an advocate for the show, I was a bit disappointed by the season finale. The ensemble cast is phenomenal and hilarious in every other episode, which is why the finale left me unsatisfied. The whole episode was rather monotone for me. Because so much of the finale was focused on the older Kerkovich sister, we didn’t get to see the group interact at their best. This episode would have fit in better in the middle of the season. Happy Endings currently airs on Friday nights, which is unfortunately not a good sign for the future of the show. It would be a shame if this episode ended up being the closing argument for this incredible series.
Perhaps the most obvious correlation between Happy Endings and Friends is the superb casting. Once again it is impossible to pick a favorite character, as all six actors are remarkably talented and deliver such impressive comedic performances. Between the writing and acting, it’s clear that Happy Endings is something special. Hopefully this is not the ending, but only the beginning.