Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Endings Visited By "Brothas & Sisters"

Article first published as Happy Endings Visited By "Brothas & Sisters" on TheTVKing.

ABC's Happy Endings completes its third season with "Brothas & Sisters." The gang attends the wedding of the eldest Kerkovich sister, the unseen-before-now Brooke (Stephanie March, Law & Order: SVU). Hijinks ensue as sibling rivalry rears its ugly head, and rumors spread like wildfire, whether they are true or not.

Now that we've met the entire Kerkovich clan, I'm not sure I'm satisfied with the casting. Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) are great, but their chemistry with Brooke is cold and stilted. Part of this could be because Brooke has such an off-putting personality in the first place, but it just doesn't feel like she has the same sister bond with them as they do with each other, which is disappointing. It's also understandable, given she isn't around, and yet still seems off.

Their parents (Harry's Law's Christopher McDonald and Airplane's Julie Hagerty) also don't gel with their daughters. It makes one wonder how Jane is as put together as she is, given such flighty parents. Alex's personality, on the other hand, makes sense.

That being said, it is fun to see Jane struggle to please someone who is unpleasable, like Brooke is. The characters say early in the half hour that when Brooke appears, Jane reverts to Alex and Alex stays the baby. I disagree with that assertion. Jane never gets dumb and silly, she just gets clumsy and frazzled. She's a whole different kind of mess than Alex is, and it's a new side of Jane we've yet to see, which makes it surprising and fresh.

Penny (Casey Wilson) is just as thrown off her game as Jane by Brooke, who continuously pretends she doesn't know Penny, though they have met many times. However, this is nothing new for Penny, who is rarely on her game, and so while amusing, it isn't quite as exciting as seeing Jane act that way.

I really like the dynamic between Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and his new brother-in-law, Elliot (James Lesure, Las Vegas). Though not really similar people, Elliot brings out both insecurity and kinship in Brad simultaneously as they try to relate to one another. It's a fine line that Wayans walks in his handling of the role in "Brothas & Sisters," yet he succeeds in creating a new relationship that I hope is explored further on Happy Endings in the future.

Penny and Max (Adam Pally) can't keep their mouths shut at the wedding, spilling the beans to many attendees that Alex and Dave (Zachary Knighton) have broken up. They then try to cover themselves by making up other lies. What results is a very large comedy of errors, combining with Jane's screw ups to disastrously ruin the ceremony.

All of this is too much. Happy Endings skews cartoonish from time to time, but "Brothas & Sisters" takes this to an extreme. I wonder if part of the failing of this episode is its attempt to include guest stars in a meaningful way. I find the series is best when concentrating on the main group. However, even a weak episode of Happy Endings, which I consider this season finale to be, compared to other outings, is still more entertaining than most sitcoms, given the excellent chemistry among the core cast, and it still earns laughs.

It's depressing that Alex and Dave break up, though. Their reasons are solid, that they've never really been with other people, and they're not sure they should be together, romantically. Yet, just getting them back together this year, after witnessing their falling out in the series premiere, it's sad to think their relationship is over again. Hopefully, this is temporary.

Happy Endings has not been renewed for a fourth season, and that's why the hanging Dave/Alex plot, as well as Penny's unresolved crush on Dave from last year, makes me uneasy. I do hope they get to come back, whether on ABC, TBS, or somewhere else, as it's a show I always look forward to watching, and there are easily many more stories to tell about this group of people.

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