Saturday, May 28, 2011

Happy Endings bears witness to "The Shershow Redemption"

Pilot      ABC's Happy Endings started slow, but by the season finale, "The Shershow Redemption," the series is finding its way. Like a modern, more diverse friends, it is establishing itself a fine following for a modern sitcom. In the episode, the gang attends the wedding of their old friend Shershow (T.J. Miller, Carpoolers, Cloverfield). Shershow used to be a screw up, but he has things together, and is marrying a beautiful woman, Melinda (June Diane Raphael, Funny or Die Presents..., NTSF:SD:SVU). While several among the group wonder who has become the new Shershow, others seek to redfine their relationships. The real meaning of love and marriage is explored.

     The series begins with Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) leaving Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the alter. It takes awhile for them to get back to a place of friendship, but they must, because they share the same mutual friends. In "The Shershow Redemption," Alex suggests they play each others' wingman, a move that will totally prove they are over each other. But, she isn't, as is soon revealed when Dave overhears Alex confess she may have made a mistake to Melinda. In most sitcoms, the fact that Alex caught Dave sleeping with a bimbo earlier in the episode would prevent her from being able to reconnect with him. In Happy Endings, they choose the more mature route, not even discussing the other woman. Instead, Alex's confession comes after the incident. It's a real touching moment, not only demonstrating some sophisticated writing and storytelling, but opening the door to a possible season two reconnection, or at least a rexploration of the feelings they have.

     Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) have already been married for a numbers of years, but learn that Max (Adam Pally) was not licensed when he performed their wedding, thus nulling the union. Again, some sitcoms might exploit this fact for some overreaching story where it matters they are not legally wed. Again, Happy Endings goes in a different direction. Jane thinks about planning a huge redo so she can have the perfect wedding she didn't get before, but when Brad goes along with her plans, somewhat reluctantly, but with little complaining, she realizes they already have a solid marriage, whether the government recognizes it or not. It's heartwarming, and together with the aforementioned plot, puts Happy Endings head and shoulders above most other comedies on the air. It is earning its place on the network.

     Finally, Penny (Casey Wilson) gets jealous because Shershow was her safety, so she invents a fiance, and tries to have her flaming gay friend, Derek (Stephen Guarino, The Big Gay Sketch Show) pretend to be him. It goes horribly wrong, with Derek channeling Grease's Danny Zuko, before reverting to his natural self. Penny gets drunk and says stupid things. Perhaps she's a little over the top, but not so much so that it pulls the viewer out of the story.

     Wilson is a rare gem on Happy Endings, perhaps the most enjoyable actress on the show. This comes as a surprise, considering I did not care for her at all during her stint on Saturday Night Live. Now it appears she just needs more suitable material, which she finds in abundance on Happy Endings. Kudos for putting such a talented comedienne to good use
     Happily, because of how it has distinguished itself, Happy Endings has found enough fans to garner a second season. It will return to ABC in the fall.

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