Happy Endings Had Us at Hello

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I know this is sudden, and I’m wary because I’ve been burned in the past, but—I’m in love. If Happy Endings’ first two episodes are any indication, this sitromcom (work with me here) is exactly what I’m looking for in a series. Yes, we’ve seen this sort of thing before—countless times, really—but so far, Happy Endings is smart and funny enough that it doesn’t even matter. Who cares if the concept is recycled when the result is such a delight?

We’ve got six friends: recent exes Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton), married couple Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr.), single-gal Penny (Casey Wilson), and token gay Max (Adam Pally). But while it looks like the standard formula, these characters have already proven themselves to be more interesting than you might think. Penny and Max, in particular, could easily become sitcom stereotypes, but so far they’re the two most intriguing members of this group.

And Happy Endings is not just about who’s dating whom: There are serious issues at play here. Okay, yes, romantic relationships are clearly a huge part of it, but the show is also dealing with friendship, aging, and identity. I don’t think I could handle a series that was limited to the romance; here, there are couples and ex-couples and almost-couples, but they’re merely parts of a whole. I’m reminded of How I Met Your Mother, back when I used to care—it’s a love story, but there’s too much else going on to let that always dominate the series.

I also like that Happy Endings is self-aware, which became particularly evident in its second episode. I cringed as soon as Brad dropped the neologism “chicksand,” because it sounded exactly like something HIMYM’s Barney would say. And yeah, those adorably misogynistic little catchphrases were cute at first, but they quickly wore on me. Thankfully, Max countered “chicksand” with, “Come on, man, you’re better than that.” Because yes, this show really is. I don’t mind the occasional silly sitcom line, but let’s at least acknowledge that it’s silly and sitcommy.

Speaking of Max, he's one of the most mundane gay characters I’ve seen on television. His sexuality is apparent—he actually talks about having sex with men!—but it’s only one of his many characteristics. And his refusal to be a type is another nod to Happy Endings’ sophistication. “You want a stereotypically cartoonish Sex and the City gay?” he asked Penny. “That’s offensive.” Contrast this to the absurd gay dinner party on Modern Family, and suddenly GLAAD’s choice series doesn’t look so hot.

Oh, God, I’m coming on too strong. I can’t help it. Sometimes you just click, and I feel like Happy Endings and I already have something special. So please, I know you’re burned out on romance, but give this series a chance. I don’t think my heart can take another preemptive break-up (read: cancellation). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to doodle “LP + HE” hearts in my notebook for the next couple hours.

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