Happy Endings' Finale Shakes Things Up (Plus: Why the Show Transcends Friends)

Happy Endings S02E21: "Four Weddings and a Funeral (Minus Three Weddings and One Funeral)"

What a finale episode! And the closing dance party was a perfect way to cap off a powerful season. Celebrate, y’all, you deserve it. While "Four Weddings and a Funeral (Minus Three Weddings and One Funeral)" began like most Happy Endings episodes do—with our six favorite friends speeding through lightning-fast repartee, Derek (or Eric?) arrived and introduced the event the plot would center on, his ultra-lavish wedding. That was the first thing the finale did right, because it didn’t cut corners and the wedding was gorgeous and looked like a movie set. Also cinematic were the two developments this episode set in place for Season 3, storylines so intriguing I left the show simply thirsting for the next episode, and devastated we won't get to see it until the fall.

The first of the two developments: Brad lost his job. Jaw drop! Uber rich, super perfect Brad and Jane on one income? What will that be like? Will Brad go back to cargo shorts? Will they bring in Dave or Max as a roommate to protect their savings? That’s seriously a great device, it immediately throws a veil over our expectations for Season 3. And most importantly, the fact that Jane had such a supportive reaction to Brad when he told her about it...they even sidestepped the old "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME" micro fight, which, thank you: It was gorgeously stated and gave me warm fuzzies. Jane was at her most OCD in this episode, when she possibly food poisoned a member of the wedding party so she could take the person's place and then effectively started running the reception to save money for the two grooms, all while wearing a goofy yellow tux. (Did you see her original dress for the wedding? Frickin’ stunning. And the slit for Jolie-ing is so stylish these days.)

The other big development? The love triangle. Friends in its last season slapped on a half-hearted inner-circle love triangle between Ross and Rachel and wannabe-dad Joey (and it was weird, and it was gross), but watering the Penny-likes-Dave seed is heart-wrenching. Don't get me wrong, happy or goofed-out Casey Wilson is the biggest highlight of the show for me, but I was charmed by her reaction to Dave when he said "I love you." You could see her still staring at him when Jane came through and yeah, subtle and touching and SEASON 3 IS GOING TO BE AWESOME y'all. (Happy Endings is definitely getting a Season 3, right, ABC? Right?)

Okay, yes, I sound disgusting right now, and I swear the writers are not sending me free candy bars in the mail or something. I’m just always impressed by how high the joke quality is and how such amazing ideas—ideas other writers might be tempted to build a whole movie around—are used effectively as set pieces. Like the Skype table? How amazing was Penny having to monitor a table of wedding guests Skyping into the reception? That kind of heightened-yet-plausible awkward moment was straight out of any single person’s worst nightmares, and the show just kept building on it, with Penny flirting with Brian Austin Green over Skype and then dancing with the skeevy Uncle via a laptop on the parquet. They made the most out of already strong jokes and I appreciate that. This is one show that goes out of its way to exceed the audience’s expectations.

But I think what really hit me the most during the finale was what an upgrade this show is from Friends, its clear thematic predecessor. Don’t get me wrong, I was just as transported as anyone else when Ross and Rachel finally kissed at the Central Perk. But there’s two changes Happy Endings makes to the “six best friends in a big city” template that I think account for its freshness and cult following. Firstly, they all take turns being the silly one. On Friends, Phoebe and Joey were kind of dim, and everyone else rolled their eyes and made witty remarks. Happy Endings gives all its actors a chance to play the weirdo, a chance to play the clown, as well as moments to be real and perceptive. Alex—who is clearly the Rachel, if you will—spends a lot of her screen time being the silliest person in the room and oh my God she kills me. Elisha Cuthbert is an unsung comedy hero, and she’s blossomed this season. Meanwhile, Max, the same man who hibernated during the winter like a bear, got a serious relationship crisis.

The other, even better difference (and I think it goes along with no one being the Joey or the Phoebe) is that there’s rarely any humor derived from snapping on each other. No snippy little personal attacks, which make up the humor of most sitcoms and were certainly a huge feature of FriendsHappy Endings is that it really is the most positive and sunshiny representation we have of a group of friends out there, and when you get down to it that’s what everybody wants. And personally I believe that skews closer to how people actually feel about their friends. There is drama, oh dear Lord there is drama, but if you've known someone for several years and you look back on your adventures, I think you'd find your mind holds onto the good more than the bad, and your memories mirror Happy Endings' version of life more than, say, Seinfeld's.

Guys, I am so saccharine right now, I apologize. Blame Adam Pally! His voice at the end was amazing. Was that his actual voice? The conceit of the group Mandonna cover—okay, there's another throwaway joke that is so effing strong someone else would have tried to make an entire series out of it, but Happy Endings just added it to its giant pile of good ideas—of "Like A Prayer" had some kind of harmony going on that gave me chills. And when Dave and Alex took hands and looked at each other, it was ambiguous about whether it was romantic or just them being super good friends who have known each other all their lives. And either way, they win. Warm and fuzzy. I needed that, Happy Endings. I’m going to miss you.


QUESTIONS:

– Was that Max’s actual voice?! Amazing!

– Where can I find that Madonna cover? iTunes?! OMG love it.

– What will Brad do as a fired man? How long will he stay jobless? Will Dave hire Brad to help out with the food truck?

– Penny and Dave...?

– Alex and Dave...?

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no show will ever transcend friends.
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Penny + Dave. Yes Please. Been waiting for that since Season 1!
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Dear God, someone please shoot me. This show has devolved into the most insipid piece of garbage on the ABC network. The show was interesting and refreshing in it's first short season, but this year it is just so much junk. I stopped watching it about 6 episodes into the season, and decided to check it out for the finale and am so glad I stopped wasting 22 minutes of my life a week watching this vapid waste of time.
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Sad.
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I'm so sorry for you bitterness. If you can't find positivity in this season of Happy Endings then you're doomed. Happy Endings is amahzing. In every way.
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The sweetest part, I think, was checking out Max's website http://www.thingsthataregay.biz/



Just lovely. And I'm not being ironic or any shit like that. If you haven't checked it, do it.
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I'm going for Penny and Dave... Being left at the altar, and all...

BUT! For season 3 i predict Alex and Dave start it up again... and fail... 'cause of the failed wedding thing... Which will make Penny so bummed that the whole Penny and Dave situation will only be back at, say, season 4??? *because there HAS to be a season 4, right??*
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Okay, all the Friends love in the comments is creeping me out. People need to remember what Friends was. Friends was a decidedly mediocre show as all long-running shows must be, because they have to appeal to all (most) and offend none (few). Happy Endings is way too good to last that long.
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I actually thought the Penny and Dave thing was random and stupid. They hinted at it in another episode and I remember hoping that they'd never go there. Disappointed and hope it doesn't become a huge deal in S3. I'm with Alex and Dave on this one.
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I liked the new guy in the wheelchair. I hope he stays. And yes, this show is tons better than Friends. Though to be fair, I never really liked Friends. It was one of the most boring and overrated sit-coms that I could still watch without ripping my eyes out.



Anyway, this was one of the funniest episodes of the whole series. I laughed throughout the episode.
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You can't compare anything to friends, but it is a nice funny show.

Hope it will be renewed though
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Seriously, Lily? I'm sorry but Friends was perfect in every sense. It managed to be great for 10 seasons and have some great characters.

Happy Endings started out great, it was this small quirky comedy that was so underrated. It was really funny and the characters were still grounded.... With the second season it turned into a complete mess, the characters are so annoying and over the top now and it just seems they are trying so hard. I mean, Max and Penny are so over the top now its just not funny anymore.

And Penny and Dave..... seriously? So random

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"Why the Show Transcends Friends"



oh please...it's an ok show, let's get over ourselves can we?
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"On Friends, Phoebe and Joey were kind of dim, and everyone else rolled their eyes and made witty remarks. Happy Endings gives all its actors a chance to play the weirdo, a chance to play the clown, as well as moments to be real and perceptive."



Have you actually watched Friends, like the 10 YEARS of Friends? Cause if you have, you really can't say that first sentence. I get what you mean cause that was somewhat true in the beginning but it moved way beyond that, and that second sentence can also be said for Friends. They all took turns being the silly one as well as being real and perceptive. You can't really compare 2 years (albeit 2 awesome years) of comedy with 10 years of sitcom gold.



That being said, I LOVE Happy Endings!! It's become one of my fave shows and my fave comedy on tv right now after Community. I've watched every ep several times now. Penny is my favorite, she kills me every time she talks (sometimes she doesn't even have to talk), and I love her abbrevs!! (I do a lot of them since and it annoyed the hell out of my friends at first but now they're actually doing it too! xD). I mean each one of the six is perfect really, they're all some of my fave characters on tv but Penny is like in the top 5 (and I watch A LOT of tv)



As for your questions:

- I think it was yeah, he was awesome :)

- try to rip an mp3 out of the video maybe?

- I have no idea and I don't even want to try to guess. I can't wait to see what's gonna happen with that storyline!

- When they first hinted something between them, I wasn't sure, it felt kinda weird, but having watched and rewatched the eps, I find myself secretly rooting for them. It'd be fun to watch how that would play out.

- I don't really know about those two. I love that they're still really close and have little moments, but I don't think they're still in love with each other.

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Huh, you comparing this overrated show to the legendary Friends ? Blasphemy...
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ABC renew Happy Endings now please.
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really great review, I like the Friends comparison. I definitely hope this show gets some more traction, because I really love it. I'm sad that was the finale!
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While I really do like this show, its dialogue all too often crosses the line from dense to incomprehensible. Dense dialogue can be done really well (think Aaron Sorkin's writing) but I often have to turn the closed captioning on while watching this just to try to keep up with what's being said. Combined with the actors' frequent tendency to not always say their lines loudly enough during moments of unusual density, it can all be just too much to follow.



I know it's not just me that feels this way, since I've watched the show with other people who've all ended up saying "What did they say?" several times per episode. Even listening to the show through headphones, some of what's said still can't be heard well. This is my only complaint with the show. (My hearing is fine, by the way.)



IMO, they could dial back the pace juuuuust a tad (and have the actors speak a little more clearly) and end up with a show that's both enjoyably rapid-fire while still being 100% understandable. It's been done many times before.

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I've with on this one. I've had to backtrack quite a few episodes.
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the NEED to stop that penny and dave shenanigans. ugh
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As a straight white guy, I predictably identify with Dave and I fall in love with Penny every episode. Penny and Dave all the way.
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Penny and Dave? Alex and Dave? What are you talking about?!?! It's clearly Penny and Alex.
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Penny and Dave must happen, they'd be great together.
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I love Casey Wilson as Penny, I think she is so adorable. I so wanted her and Dave to end up together at the end and see where it goes into Season 3. I like Elisha Cuthbert's character Alex, to me the funniest person in the show next to Penny and Brad, but her and Alex I don't think it will work. Brad and Jane on one income is going to be hilarious because I think Jane is the one whose like the expensive stuff but how she rationed the wedding food I think they will be alright Max in Mandonna was great, I really do wonder if that was his actual voice. Can't wait for Season 3, there better be one.
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-I think it was. Good for him.

-No clue, I prefer the original Madonna. But that's just me.

-I'm hoping they do keep him jobless for at least a little while. I'd love to see him going jobless crazy. Maybe get a job as a fry cook.

-Nope.

-YES!!! Just because I want it to be.
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This show NEEDS a 3rd season! I was never a fan of Friends, but Happy Endings belongs in the top pantheon of comedy gold, alongside Community, Arrested Development, and Parks and Rec
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ABC was so stupid to air the last few episodes of the season on a repeat comedy block. thats sabotage!
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wait wait wait......that was the finale? o shet
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HE is a pretty great show funny without being over the top. And not to be that guy but there is a lot of Community overlap with the show wether it be writers, music people or even actors, that is the reason I started watching in the first place.
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Derek holding up a sign that said "DRAMA!" when they were supposed to be quiet killed me.
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This show is pure genius - from the actors, to the writers, to the themes ... I replay scenes from each episode so many times in my mind, it's amazing. The only other show that does that for me is Community. Regarding the "Friends" comparison/contrast; I was never a fan of that show, so I'd think that it's NOT a choice I'd make to compare with Happy Endings.



Earlier in the year I posted my thoughts on Elisha Cuthbert, and the fact that I thought she was the weak link in this group.



I was wrong.



She's HILARIOUS, and I think I've gotten over my tendency to wait for Jack Bauer to break into the set, rescuing his daughter. Babe, you make me laugh CONTINUALLY!!!

(But I wouldn't mind it if you carried a Baretta hidden on you. Just saying.)
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I am so with you on this review! While this show had a bit of a shaky start - it took some time to get comfortable with its style - it has grown to become a really fantastic show. I often compare it to Friends too because of their obvious similarity: the three women+three men set-up. But personally I like Happy Endings more. Friends is one of the few multi-cam comedies that I really appreciate. The jokes were far above average, but because of its limiting format it was always still just a regular sit-com. But Happy Endings brings quirkiness and intelligent humour on all fronts. It's really the kind of comedy I like.

You are right about Elisha Cuthbert being really good! In the beginning I wasn't so sure she could pull off comedy, but she actually did really well. And now that they have turned up the silliness factor of her character from what it was in the beginning, she is doing even a better job.
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ALEX AND DAVE! Although I love this show, I don't really like the Penny & Dave relationship they're trying to push for.

And I have to say this, even though this show is one of my favorite comedies right now (toss-up between Happy Endings & Community), I wouldn't say that it's better than Friends, my all-time favorite comedy (seen every single episode at least 8 times).
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Alex had her chance.
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I loved the finale. The various aspects and most importantly the set up for next season was fantastic. This show is just good. And it is in direct competition for my favorite comedy with Community.



As for the show as a single episode it was good. I am not sure I am welcomed to the potentiality of David Silver perhaps having a role next season. Because he is second to Wilmer Valderama in being a waste of screen time.



I don't necessarily welcome a potential rehash of Alex and Dave. Or even Dave and Penny, thought if I had to choose I would go for Dave an Penny rather than the former. Mostly because their respective efforts at coupling up with others is such a great source of comedy material for the whole cast that I fear (though I am confident in the writers ) that it would lesson the funny.



The same with Brad not being employed. I do think that Brad being unemployed and his reactions to it will be hilarious. However, I wonder if it will pull away from the amazing bits with Brad and Jane.



As for the comparison between this and Friends. I think the most notable one is simply that this is funny. But then again I never watched Friends other than a few episodes and wasn't impressed.
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