Today I wanted to talk about one of my all-time favourite shows – Happy Endings. Due to a mix of its parent network (ABC) airing the episodes (particularly in the first season of thirteen episodes) all willy nilly, the timeslot constantly being shifted around and a lack of promotion, it unfortunately never really caught on with the general public.
Years later, the show has developed and maintained a cult following of fans, and rumours of a revival are frequent. And it’s hard not to see why the show’s remaining fanbase are dedicated to introducing it to new people all these years later, or why we haven’t given up hope on a revival. Its three seasons amounting to fifty-seven episodes were smart, comedic, incredibly-meta and, when viewed in production order, incredibly continuous.
Airing from April 13, 2011 until May 3, 2013, the show starred Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans, Jr., and Casey Wilson as our six protagonists residing in Chicago. The plot that sets the show up involves Alex (played by Cuthbert) leaving Dave (played by Knighton) at their wedding, which forces the other characters to decide if they need to choose sides. This is complicated by Jane (Coupe)’s marriage to Brad (Wayans), who is one of Dave’s best friends alongside Max (Pally), while Penny (Wilson) has grown up with both sisters and Dave. While this plot line is essentially phased out after the first three episodes, the dynamic between all of the characters is a major part of the show’s success.
While the concept of a sitcom focusing on six friends may just seem like another in a long list of Friends imitators, Happy Endings truly succeeded in keeping themselves fresh and doing their own thing within that archetype of sitcoms. The group may have their standard go-to hangout spot; however, a season two episode also shows a character drunkenly referring to the other five by their Friends archetype, showing the show was self-aware of that shtick and didn’t want to be shoe-horned into it. These sort of meta references were present throughout the series, and fit in humorously to show that Happy Endings had no problem pointing out their own shortcomings.
Despite an all-too short run, I think the series truly shined in its second season. While the first and third seasons were enjoyable, the scripts were tight, the characters had found their footing, and the storylines had moved far beyond the Dave/Alex triangle of the first season. Two back-to-back episodes in this season – Cocktails & Dreams and The Kerkovich Way – are easily my two favourite episodes from its entire run, and feature some of the show’s most hilarious and quotable moments.
It’s truly a shame this amazing show was cancelled before people could rally behind it, and ultimately before the streaming revival craze had truly taken off. Though there was a reunion “lost episode” table reading for charity, I’d love to have more episodes back on my screen. Until then, I’ll just do my rewatch of the series every few months in the interim.
If you’d like to check the show out, Mill Creek has released the complete series on Blu-Ray and it’s only $20 on Amazon! While the season one episodes have thankfully been restored to their intended order, season two and season three had a few instances of episodes being swapped around.
For the most part, the order on the Blu-Ray for these two seasons doesn’t really affect anything continuity-wise, but there is a season two episode mixed in with season three that I’d advise being viewed before season three. The episode, entitled Kickball 2: The Kickening, technically serves as the penultimate episode of season two, but if you don’t feel like swapping the discs back and forth, you can make do with simply watching it before the premiere of season three. There is a gag in season three’s opener that involves a flashback to said episode, which is why I recommend taking the time to view it where it should be.