There’s no genre easier to jump into than the lighthearted comedy. Not only do comedies often rely a little more on laughs than complicated plot outlines or family dynamics, but a half-hour comedy is only a 30-minute investment, and closer to 22, if you have a DVR. Usually, all it takes is one episode to get a viewer hooked on a good comedy, but unfortunately, comedy is largely dependent on taste, and finding one in a viewer’s wheelhouse is generally a little bit of work.
While there are shows that are easier to invest in if they are watched from Day 1, luckily there are plenty of shows with the ease of plot or the writing finesse to help people to jump into any episode and get involved with a new series. To determine whether a show falls in to the former or latter camp, TV Blend writer Jessica Rawden has vowed to watch episodes of shows she’s never seen before and analyze those shows in different areas to let you, the reader, know how quickly you could become a fan. This week Jessica is tackling Happy Endings’’s Season 3 Episode 5 comedy “P&P Romance Factory.”
1. Quality Of Story
Happy Endings thrives more on situational comedy, so if that’s your cup of tea, it may be a show to jump into. This week’s three storylines were funny, charming, and a little wacky. There’s no better way to get the wacky description across than to toss out a few plot tidbits, so here goes. One couple switched gender roles but ultimately learned what it took to make a team, their buddies were occupied with fist pumping, and one of the characters had to wear a helmet for a month due to a concussion.
The story is mostly about a group of pretty normal friends living in Chicago who happen to get into absurd life situations. If every week is as strange as “P&P Romance Factory,” I highly doubt this show gets repetitive. However, if you are the type of viewer who prefers quick verbal retorts or slightly twisted humor, Happy Endings probably isn’t the right formula for you.
2. Quality Of Characters
It’s hard to tell whether Happy Endings is a true ensemble comedy after one viewing, or if it’s structured more heavily on Damon Wayans Jr. and Eliza Coupe’s characters, which is how “P&P Romance Factory” played out. While the other plotlines this week were funny in a don’t-think-too-hard kind of way, Coupe’s Jane and Wayans Jr.’s Brad actually capably worked out some issues in their relationship, which hit both funny and poignant notes. If I had to guess, I would say this show likely sticks to a couple of characters’ important stories each week and writes the other characters silly sideplots. However, I can only go by what I’ve seen and what I’ve seen is more of Jane and Brad.
That being said, of all the characters and their various attributes, I enjoyed the idea of Elisha Cuthbert’s Alex the best. I’ve seen unfunny characters play small roles in comedies before, but I’ve never seen a main female character in a comedy notoriously lack humor. Alex can’t join in with the verbal banter of her friends and she often cuts awkwardly into the conversations. She certainly has the most caricature to her, but as a gimmick, it works.
3. Likelihood Of Staying On Air
Happy Endings airs on Tuesdays on ABC and, quite frankly, it doesn’t crush. In Season 2, ratings were up from Season 1, but Season 3 has not enjoyed the same amount of success, only pulling in a little over four million viewers an episode. While the numbers don’t look great, jumping in now may not be as silly as you might think.
Happy Endings should get a fourth season at ABC, thanks to the magical prowess of syndication rights. There’s a good chance the network will choose to pull through and air one more season of the series instead of throwing all of the network’s hopes on a brand new show in the timeslot. Additionally, Don’t Trust the B***** in Apartment 23 airs directly after Happy Endings, and that show does even worse in the ratings. It’s doubtful the network will cancel both. If you jumped in now, you at worst still have plenty of Season 3 and a potential Season 4 to work with.
4. Necessary Investment Level
While the characters are designed to feel like they could be your friends, it’s not a huge deal if you only check in on the crew once or twice a month. Having never seen Happy Endings before, I obviously had no problem understanding who was dating whom and what each character’s general personality was like.
That being said, Happy Endings does seem to really like recurring gags and inside jokes. I could tell a few times that characters were referencing themes or jokes that had come up in the past, but that I didn’t have a frame of reference for. Regardless, these moments didn’t really detract from my viewing and they didn’t seem to pop up as often as they do, say, in Arrested Development.
The Good, The Bad, And Whether You Should Watch
Happy Endings will not be a comedy for everyone. Its jokes are tame, and often reference cultural stereotypes or nearly forgotten colloquialisms (“down low, too slow). It’s also about a group of twenty somethings, so while the situational comedy speaks to my generation and those around mine, I’m not certain an older audience would find it endearing or fully understand the humor, which could potentially be a frustrating problem for new viewers of different ages.
The good news is, there’s no laugh track, the writing is not punchline, punchline, punchline, and the characters really do seem like some weirdos many of us would love to hang out with. My suggestion is to give an episode a shot. If Happy Endings isn’t up your alley, you only wasted one half hour, and it’s not really the sort of show that will keep you up at night regretting having delved in.
To see more Jessica Jumps In, click here.