>> Happy Endings (PREVIEW)

Show: Happy Endings

Episode(s): 2.1

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton

Network: ABC

Airdate/Time: September 28, 2011 9:30pm

Rating: 2.85 (out of 4.00)

Grade: B-

 Here's hoping that the rest of season 2 of ABC's Happy Endings doesn't suffer the same fate as the opening scene of the first episode, which is painfully desperate for laughs. After that, the show has a sharp wit, great actors, and a realistic sense of what it's like to be a young adult today.

The whole series revolves around how a group of friends reacts when the couple that brought them all together splits up. They're also all dealing with defining life changes -- Penny (Casey Wilson, a former SNL cast member who should've stayed longer) buying her first condo as a single woman, Dave (Zachary Knighton) making a 180-degree career change by quitting his office job to own a steak sandwich cart, Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr.) and Max's (Adam Pally) friendship suffering after Brad getting married, and more -- that most everyone goes through at some point in their adult life.

That's exactly what makes the show work. It's very much a reflection of life in 2011. People change careers, relationships have growing pains, marriages don't always work out, single folks aren't waiting to get married to buy a house. Namely, Penny embodies the fears of 80% of my single girlfriends. Her condo mysteriously filling up with cats, being stricken with the desire to brew some tea and wear house shoes, receiving an ad slipped under the door for a personal pizza -- even though women are more independent than ever, there's still a huge amount of pressure to get married, almost as soon as possible, lest one become a spinster with more cats than romantic prospects. The show takes that and runs with it in a very funny way. Casey Wilson's comedic chops are not appreciated nearly enough, and her time on SNL was cut way too short.

Everyone else on the cast is very likeable as well, and most importantly relatable -- interracial relationships are no longer taboo, and the show doesn't treat Brad and and Jane as a novelty or a huge step forward. They're just a married couple, one of millions throughout the world. Max is also openly gay, and I thank my lucky stars for shows like this that don't play into the gay stereotype we're all familiar with. The characters are more than their differences, and this is the way it needs to be. The writing never treats the 'others' like others; they leave that to society outside of the show.

I had no idea that Elisha Cuthbert (who plays Alex, Dave's runaway bride) could be funny! I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought of her as gratuitous eye candy in movies like The Girl Next Door and House of Wax. So great to see more of her range. Eliza Coupe's comedic style reminds me a lot of Sarah Chalke from Scrubs, a show that Coupe was also on.

Some are saying this show could be the next Friends. I'm not holding my breath, but it's also not a total lost cause. I'd watch it again if you're into ensemble relationship comedies.


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