Happy Endings "More Like Stanksgiving" Review: Has Ordeals With Clams

By Bill Kuchman

Nov 21, 2012

Happy Endings S03E04: "More Like Stanksgiving"

Holiday-themed sitcom episodes are always tricky proposals; it’s easy for writers to get sucked into penning sappy storylines. I consider How I Met Your Mother to be the gold standard of Thanksgiving episodes, having given us both "Slapsgiving" and "Blitzgiving." After "More Like Stanksgiving," it looks like Happy Endings is ready to join that rarified air.

First off, "More Like Stanksgiving" was an excellent Happy Endings episode, possibly the best one of Season 3 thus far. Every character was in play, every member of the group delivering line after line of great material. The actual holiday of Thanksgiving was a part of the episode without the entire thing coming off like an after-school special. There wasn’t some gooey message telling us how to feel at the end. And like HIMYM’s "Slapsgiving" and "Blitzgiving" episodes, the story in this episode wasn’t exactly the family dinner stuff Norman Rockwell would’ve painted. Dave claiming to have experienced the entire Native American plight because he got caught scalping tickets? Brilliant.

After living together (again) for four weeks, Dave and Alex invited the rest of the gang to their place for Thanksgiving dinner. Dave, embracing the fact that he's 1/16 Navajo, journeyed out to buy the clams he needed to cook an "authentic" Thanksgiving dinner. Brad, Jane, Penny, and Max showed up to help Alex finish dinner preparations, and Max brought a surprise—the finally released DVD of The Real World: Sacramento. What’s that? You don’t remember The Real World: Sacramento? Well, after one of the cast members burned down the abandoned firehouse they were living in, MTV never put the season on the air. Which is a shame, because The Real World: Sacramento is when Brad met Max and the rest of the group.

As Penny pointed out, why isn’t this a fact that’s mentioned more? This is one of the many reasons that I love Happy Endings. These six characters share a history so deep that the show is still only just revealing key parts of their shared story. Other shows might've taken the easy way out and explained everyone knows each other in the pilot, but Happy Endings has chosen to focus on where its characters are headed, dropping key points in their backstories here and there as we go.

While waiting for the moment when Max would claim he was the first person to come out as gay on a TV show, the group witnessed Brad and Jane’s meet cute. Well, I guess it’s only a meet cute if you consider Jane critiquing Brad’s flagrant disregard for hot tub occupancy rules and Brad changing Jane’s last name to “Kerko-bitch” cute. Jane wasn’t happy when she saw Brad’s confessional.

During his Real World appearance, Max was still dating Penny. While filming a testimonial, Penny was asked about whether or not she had feelings for Dave, causing Alex to realize that Penny may have been harboring feelings for Dave all along—even possibly trying to sabotage her relationship with pesky questions about why Dave hadn’t moved his stuff into their apartment yet.

Max’s coming-out moment was ruined by the fact that he made his big announcement with a mouth full of food, and MTV subtitled “I’m gay” as “I’m Greg.” Meanwhile, present-day Brad watched a drunken Real World Jane attempt to hook up with his fellow Real World housemate Jared before winding up in bed with Brad instead. Now it was Brad's turn to get angry.

But while everyone else was catching up on Real World: Sacramento, Dave was still trying to purchase those clams, and he couldn't seem to catch a break. His car, wallet, and phone were stolen by a pair of Pilgrims, so he had no money to pay for the clams when he finally arrived at the store. He agreed to trade his Navajo coat (the one his friends hate) for the clams and a blanket, only to discover that the blanket was covered in cat hair. As Dave sniffled down the street, wrapped in a blanket and clutching the bag of clams, he remembered that he was still carrying tickets to see Rock Bottom Remainders, a band comprised of best-selling authors. Hoping to raise a little cash to get back home, Dave sold his tickets to a man who turned out to be an undercover cop in front of a police station. Yes, the Native American Dave got arrested for scalping.

Eventually Dave got himself released and made it back home with the clams. He shared his story of being robbed by Pilgrims, receiving a disease-infested blanket in a trade, and being accused of scalping, announcing that he'd now lived the entire Native American experience. Thanks to this, Dave felt he'd finally earned the right to a Native American name. He selected the moniker Has Ordeals with Clams.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, everyone made up, with Alex telling Penny that she overreacted to the simple question about Dave moving in, and Brad and Jane deciding that even though their initial encounter was a mistake, everything that happened after it was not. And it turned out that Dave wasn’t procrastinating his move, he just couldn’t get movers until the following weekend. He'd even told Alex as much, but she was open-eye napping and didn’t hear him.

Happy Endings announced its presence on the holiday episode stage last season with "Spooky Endings" (the one with Alex in a Marilyn Monroe costume being mistaken for a guy in drag), and with "More Like Stanksgiving," it’s clear that the show can step up to the big moments.


– Rock Bottom Remainders is a real band, made up of authors like Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Dave Barry. The band last performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in 2012.

– Will Hostess's bankruptcy issues hurt the production of NavaHo-Hos?

– Jane and Brad swapping out Alex’s sad-looking turkey for their own completely prepared turkey was classic Jane and Brad. Alex failing to realize it happened was classic Alex.

– Max’s Real World testimonial about his relationship with Penny: “We are like two rabbits... just doing it all the time... there’s so much sex... and, uh, it’s all hetero.”

– I’m surprised no one made any Kurt Cobain references about Dave’s 2002 looks. I guess Cobain is sacred territory.

– Alex: “We can make my famous bad potatoes this year?”

– Penny’s Real World confessional about her relationship with Max: “My relationship with Max is awesome. Sometimes we just talk all night and forget to have sex.”

– Penny trying to explain to Alex whether or not she had feelings for Dave: “And it was 2002! It was such a crazy time. We were all still reeling from the events of Vanilla Sky. I mean, what is reality?” Alex: “I am so tired of people using Vanilla Sky to defend everything.”

– Dave while being arrested: “Scalping? The pilgrims drove me to it!”

– Brad to Max after his flubbed coming-out: “You’re definitely a hero to all the Gregs out there.” Jane: “First openly Greg person on television.”

– Brad on Play-Doh: “I love the way that smells but not the way it tastes.”

– Only Alex would buy a sex swing and believe that it was an ergonomic aid. Also, only Alex would proceed to eat Thanksgiving dinner while sitting suspended in a sex swing after Penny pointed out to her what it really was.

– Brad to Max as they fought over cleaning dishes while on The Real World: “I just found out your name wasn’t ‘Maps.’ I thought it was ‘Maps’ this whole time.” Max: “Why would it be ‘Maps?’ Who names themselves after a thing?” Brad: “You don’t want to make me angry, dude, cause when I get angry, I get naked, and when I get naked, I fight.”

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  • super_hyly Nov 25, 2012

    Jane and Brad make this show go round!!!!!!!!

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 22, 2012

    Good mornin' Mr. Brad!
    Oh, 'ello! Good mornin' Mr. Weiner!
    Where we aimin' at this mornin', Mr. Braaayd?!

    Jane's delivery of that was hilarious.

    Love this episode.

  • docspector Nov 22, 2012

    The gold standard for Thanksgiving holiday episodes is WKRP in Cincinnati. Those of you who know what I'm talking about know what I'm talking about, and the rest of you should go online and search for "WKRP Thanksgiving". Youtube seems to have several copies.

  • Sbriseno07 Nov 22, 2012

    The Vanilla Sky thing was hilarious.

  • Vincentfr79 Nov 22, 2012

    I hate the fact that the writers keep making Alex more and more stupid every episode

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 22, 2012

    I didn't think she was too stupid in this one. I'd love to be able to make Nava-HoHos, and make a turkey dance as well as she did. And I'd also question why anyone would want clams on Thanksgiving, as well as confuse a sex swing for an ergonomic work hammock. Of course, my intelligence has often been questioned too.

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 22, 2012

    This comment has been removed.

  • MikeScott25 Nov 22, 2012

    Thanksgiving episode was hilarious. "I am so tired of everyone using Vanilla Sky to defend everything!"

  • docspector Nov 22, 2012

    What's the gold standard for Christmas holiday episodes? (I'd vote last year's Community musical.)

  • Muderboy Nov 26, 2012

    Nope. The Bundy's, You Better Watch Out, is the undisputed champion...

  • MikeScott25 Nov 22, 2012

    I still have yet to watch the episode. Will probably do this in a little bit. But please ABC, move Happy Endings and Bitch! Not like they'll all of a sudden become huge, but they aren't compatible with the older-skewing Dancing With The Stars at all and they wouldn't look like such big failures if they're not after a show doing over 12 Million weekly. It's been said before, but make Wednesday night a 3 hour comedy block and put them after Suburgatory. Both Happy Endings and Apt 23 are two of the best sitcoms on TV right now. Going up against other younger-skewing comedies doesn't help. Why must so many be on at the same time? I watch New Girl, New Normal, and Mindy as well but haven't been watching them live since Happy Endings and Apt 23 returned because they're on at the same time and I like the other two a bit more.

    Another possibility. While I feel they're great where they are, I seriously feel like The Middle can absolutely stand on its own. I think that would do well after Dancing With The Stars too. I think they could put that and The Neighbors together on another night and they'd perform the same. All I know is ABC seriously needs to do something with their schedule. Obviously Nashville needs to go into Apartment 666's spot on Sunday nights too.

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 22, 2012

    While I do agree with you, at this point, I'm just happy neither have been canceled already.

  • tv_gonzo Nov 22, 2012

    I agree with you there. ABC has a great comedies right now. And some of those would fit great together, like Happy Endings, Apt 23 and Suburgatory. I would love for them to have a comedy block.

  • docspector Nov 22, 2012

    You're asking ABC for a more forgiving timeslot? Be careful what you asked for... they just cleared room Thursdays at 8:00 and 8:30PM.

  • Blooner Nov 22, 2012

    Am I seeing things, or is the 'Amy' character in the Real World: Sacramento (the girl that eventually would burn down the house) played by Kristen Bell? No one mentioned this yet, but I truly think it is Kristen Bell. She's wearing a wig and glasses. (She's not in the credits)

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 22, 2012

    It coooould be her. I can kind of see a resemblance of Kristen's face behind the hair and glasses... but it could very well be someone that kind of looks alike. I'd believe it more if there was a joke about it. If you look about 12 minutes in, after Max kisses Penny's nose, you see a closeup of her smiling... she doesn't look like Bell much there.

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 22, 2012

    This comment has been removed.

  • Blooner Nov 22, 2012

    It's clearly visible at 7 minutes and 25 seconds into the episode.

  • BeBopBigShot Nov 22, 2012

    Happy Endings and Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23 both had great Thanksgiving episodes.

    2002 ... Feels like Vanilla Sky was just yesterday, a decade goes by fast... Too Fast_

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