'Happy Endings' premiere review: Did it end well for you?

After seeing  a few episodes of the newest pals-hanging-out-com Happy Endings, I have to say it’s… not bad. The premise of Endings is that Alex (24‘s Elisha Cuthbert) left Dave (FlashForward‘s Zachary Knighton) at the altar in first of the premiere episodes that aired Wednesday night. 

Now their mutual friends — desperate singleton Penny (Saturday Night Live‘s Casey Wilson), married-couple Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr.) and Jane (Scrubs‘ Eliza Coupe), and Max (Adam Pally) — all try to support Alex and Dave with equal affection. The initial concept seems to be that the group would find this awkward, but by the second episode, Alex and Dave are dating other people and the subject barely arises. The punch-lines came fast and furiously (credit directors such as Community‘s Joe and Anthony Russo for the pace), and traded heavily on shorthand references: Dave isn’t just dating a lot, for example, he’s “dating John-Mayer-a-lot.” They spend a lot of time drinking and not just talking about sex. (See Cougar Town for the new model in alcohol-fueled crudity that somehow manages to come off merely tipsy-naughty.)

As a sitcom blueprint, Friends has proven highly influential. Since its success from 1994 to 2004, it replaced the workplace-comedy as the format that made large, younger audiences feel welcome. The Buddies-Hanging-Out genre — the pal-com? — can range from the delightfully gross (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) to the frightfully forgettable (anyone remember Fox’s 2006 Happy Hour, canceled after four episodes?). Current examples of the pal-com include the deadly Traffic Light; NBC’s most underrated (and alas, I presume, now-canceled) sitcom, Perfect Couples, and the aforementioned Cougar Town, the one to beat for all up-and-comers.

Endings tries too hard to push catchphrases into pop culture. A guy is “stuck in chicksand”; Jane prides herself on being a charmer with adults: “I’m parent heroin”; Penny works her highest compliment — “a-MAH-zing!” — until the strain shows.

Still, there was a zany energy to the premiere (and the second, better episode) that I found kind of ingratiating. And the show is trying to do something a little bit different in the way it presents Max as a gay man who’s so over being sitcom-exaggerated, reality-TV-style gay.

Or maybe you found the show grating? Did you buy Elisha Cuthbert as a comedy lead? Let me know, below.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (181 total) Add your comment
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  • Bendreaux

    I’m glad I stuck through to the second episode…much better than the first!

    • Hiro Kitty

      Boring and unfunny. Forced humor. Still better than the laugh track crap CBS puts out like big bang theory.

      • Jackie

        I believe ‘Big Bang Theory’ is filmed before a live audience, and as far as comedies go, it’s much better than a lot of other crap that’s on TV today.

      • SS

        Big Bang Theory is hilarious, you are really missing out.

      • GregHouse

        Big Bang rocks. Maybe you’re too dumb to get the humor?

      • PMD

        I was so weary of The Big Bang. I hate laugh tracks and I was doubtful Chuck Lorre could produce a funny show (2 and 1/2 Men!). But one bored night I decided to give it a chance. It is super funny!

    • Rachel

      I thought it was funny! I love Penny and the Adam, they are so funny!

      • hammysantana

        Do you love them as much as working for ABC?

      • no cars go

        i agree rachel i enjoyed the show (especially the second episode) and they were my favorites. my least favorites were damon wayans jr. and his wife.

      • PMD

        I really enjoyed them too! The second episode was farrrr better than the first. But after hearing how the first was not so great I was expecting it to be crap. I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed both episodes. I can’t wait to see more!!

      • blergy

        Hammy, who hurt you?

    • Strepsi

      No, Rachel’s right, Penny was flat out hilarious — the show’s MVP so far. Adam is the 2nd, his snark was perfectly timed and realistic, and he is a character type we haven’t seen before.

      It is clearly still finding its pace and “look” (the characters had radically different haircuts the last scene of the pilot, and again the first scene of episode 2) but if the chemistry between the “gang” is this good 2 episodes in, I’ll stick with it because I think it could be really good.

    • chocolateislove

      Zachary Knighton is from Flashforward, not Fastforward.

      • Bob

        Come on, cut poor Kenny a break. He’s getting on in years now and is prone to mistakes. Retire already, Kenny!

    • Maxi

      I’m really liking this show! It reminds me a little of Friends with a hint of will & grace!!! :) I hope it sticks around!!!

  • Randi

    Maybe I should have watched the 2nd then, but the first was such an absolute turn-off. It was actually offensive. So much fat-hate! With the one woman calling herself garbage at the gym, and then the aw shucks we’re just looking out for you ending telling the gay friend that he was chubby, I will never watch this show. It’s like the writers are relying on 2001 sentiments for jokes. Haven’t shows like Modern Family proven that we are more sophisticated than fat-hate?

    • kevin

      i love fat-hate! but then again, im not fat, as i strongly suspect you are. maybe try exercising and eating healthier and you would enjoy this type of humor more?

      • B.Rich


      • Jo

        You might not be fat…but you are a jerk. Good news is that fat people can lose weight. You, however, will probably always be a jerk.

      • SkinnyLikeMe

        Or, Kevin, maybe Randi just isn’t the lowest common denominator like you. Skinny and fat people come in many forms. Some of us are intelligent and sophisticated enough to not want to hear obvious, been-there-done-that jokes over and over again. It’s easy (though rude no matter the material) to joke about someone’s appearance. Whether you are making fun of someone’s weight, height, skin color, or any other number of physical attributes for laughs, it’s just low brow humour that people with some level of kindness, intelligence, and sophistication don’t appreciate. If you have to rely on that, then not only do you lack in intelligence and true comedic skill, you are also a jerk.

      • andy

        wow some of these folks like Jo take their fat-fanaticism a bit too far…maybe they need lighten up! (haha)

      • Rachael

        HAHHAHAH, oh ok Kevin, you’re super cool.

        I know that pilots, and usually the first few episodes, are a little awkward because you have to introduce these new characters and try to make them whole people, but it was borderline offensive how often they brought up that the one friend is the “gay friend!” and the woman was the “single jewish friend” and the married guy was black.

        We get it, they’re a diverse group of friends, you don’t have to bring those things up every five minutes.

    • andy

      ummm…a bit one-topic sensitive, arent we?

      • JillPhillips

        Rachel: “I know that pilots, and usually the first few episodes, are a little awkward because you have to introduce these new characters and try to make them whole people, but it was borderline offensive how often they brought up that the one friend is the “gay friend!” and the woman was the “single jewish friend” and the married guy was black.”
        Uh, did you watch? Penny’s not Jewish. She was dating a Jewish guy and pretended to be Jewish. That was the whole point. She’d lied to him about her age and religion. (She was 30 and Catholic, not 26 and Jewish.) I don’t remember “this is our gay friend” in the first episode nor “this is our Black friend.” Seems someone has issues with living in a multi-cultural society.

    • Krys

      I am overweight and I honestly didn’t see fat hate or whatever. It was a funny show. I think in truth we all feel a little chubby and can act that way at the gym. The whole thing of her acting crazy like that is its not healthy. Which is why she looked crazy. Its a funny show. I hope it sticks around.

      • Amanda

        I am overweight too, and I didn’t see fat hate at all. I think that was just how her character is…a little crazy! I thought the episodes were pretty good- will tune in next time!

    • GregHouse

      Modern Family rocks! Good to see Ed O-Neil back on TV.

  • I liked it

    I found myself watching, was intrigued, and enjoyed it. (I hadn’t even heard of the show before it came on.) I think I’ll add it to my Tivo.

    • SaraS

      Agree 100%. It was really fun and a very good pilot – I could see it going somewhere really great.

  • Henry

    I was surprised by how much I liked it, the promos didn’t do much, but it had a good, frenetic energy and really great chemistry between the main characters. I think I’ll definitely watch it next week!

  • Richard

    I am liking this show! Max is definitely my favorite character so far. They need to pair this show up with Cougar Town next season if it is renewed. It would be TV’s drunkest hour!

    • MF

      paired up starting next week! drunkest hour on tv!

      • steve

        or maybe they cancel cougar town cuz that show sucks and cancel this too and put out some better shows.

    • Serge

      I love this show. And Cougar Town’s already renewed thankfully

  • Cloudy Knight

    After the opening scene I was wondering how they could make the most devastating moment in that poor guy’s life even a little bit funny. They couldn’t. I hated the first episode and especially hated Elisha Cuthbert’s character. Leaving a guy at the altar? Really? The reactions of the other characters were at first terribly unrealistic, but finally the scene at the restaurant where everybody let Elisha’s character have it seemed … better. The second episode was better, but they really acted like the first episode hadn’t really happened. If someone waited until the wedding to decide to dump me, I think my reaction would be a little more angry. They probably won’t focus on the former relationship between the two main characters at all, because there is just no comedy in that situation.

    • Bobby’s Robot

      I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that the first episode of Friends revolved around a runaway bride, with Rachel being introduced to the gang. The pilot wasn’t bad. Definitely ‘Friends go to Cougar Town’. Eliza Coupe, Adam Pally and Casey Wilson stood out. But Elisha Cuthbert isn’t doing it for me so far.

      • Jack

        WOW – you are right about that. Homage probably.

      • Franck

        Posted on You could definitely see your eusnhtiasm within the work you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

  • Jeff

    I thought it was funny…and can really see it picking up to be a great comedy…the 2nd episode was def better than the pilot. I thought Damon Wayans and Eliza Coupe were the best part of the cast. Casey Wilson and Elisha were also good. Max, the gay guy, had his moments…we’ll see where his character goes.

    • Kat

      Eliza Coupe is a phenomenal comedy actress. She and Dave Franco were the best part about Scrubs: Med School.

      • Melissa

        I absolutely LOVED Eliza Coupe in Scrubs! I actually really liked the new interns, including Dave Franco…he was soooooo funny! I will be returning to watch this show some more, because of Eliza Coupe! I kinda wished her character would be a little more cold like in Scrubs!

      • JLC

        The only thing that bothered me a bit was that Eliza Coupe’s character was a little too happy. I liked her mean in scrubs (and her cameo in Community). I hope she develops more of an edge. But I liked the show overall.

    • lefty

      I liked Damon and Eliza…but I don’t buy that they’re a couple. They’re only together when the whole group is together and I thought the chemistry was lacking. Otherise, they were the bright spots, especially Damon.

      • Mr. Holloway

        Totally agree. Liked Damon Jr. better with the other guys.

        Hopefully, the chemistry between Damon and Eliza is something the show can work on, because they’re both very appealing performers.

  • mae

    the pilot kinda irked me b/c i hate when shows start out by trying to establish characters by having them say things like “at least you can get married – i’m gay” and then two seconds later “at my commitment ceremony in mass.” i got it the first time! i agree with Randi who said Modern Family showed a more sophisticated comedy – in this case, establishing who characters are.

    • simps

      I completely agree. Gay characters are becoming pretty common in shows now, and I wasn’t impressed with how every line that came out of the gay guy (Max?) had to do with being gay. The pilot of Modern Family presented a gay couple that was hilarious for so many reasons beyond the fact that they were gay. I agree with Ken that it’s cool that he’s not a super effeminate stereotype of a gay character, but hopefully the show will let him have a personality besides “don’t forget, I’m the gay one.”

    • Strepsi

      haha it’s true, they actually had an exchange “You’re gay so..” and “You’re black, so…”

      But they made up for it with this line about Adam:
      “You look like Paul Rudd if he gave up.”

      • Mark

        I actually gave some serious thought about whether Paul Rudd or “a young Kathy Bates” was a better description of Adam (I have no idea why I do stuff like that). I decided to give Bates the slightest edge – and predicted a visit from “mom” during the May sweeps!

      • chichimo

        I laughed so hard at his comment to Penny that was like “You know what sounds more fun? Wearing wet clothes and watching Schindler’s List.”

    • mae

      yeah i’ll probably give it another chance – i just need to avoid pilots i think.

      • J.norman

        Uh Mae,
        The problem with avoiding pilots is that you can’t. If you avoid the actual pilot, then the first show you view IS the pilot. . to you. Unfortunately, there is no cure for having to plow through a pilot episode for the character intorductions.

      • Mark

        Like both of you, I usually find pilots something to endure. not enjoy. So I thought this show’s idea of putting two half hour episodes next to each was quite good. If I had just watched the first one, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have bothered to try the next one in a week. Now I’m glad I saw both, and actually look forward to next week.

  • Will

    I really liked it. Planned on watching the first few minutes. Ended up glued to the tv for the whole hour. Will try to watch again next week.

  • brandon

    I loved it lol i hope it does good in the ratings so I can watch it more! Already liked it on fb and it seemed like alot of others did too.

  • Joe

    I also had heard nothing about the show and really enjoyed it. Nothing will obviously ever compare to Friends but this show has a lot of potential. It’s like a refreshing HIMYM. I also like how they decided to go in a different direction with the gay character. All of the cast seems to have great chemistry and the second episode was a lot better than the first. I’ll definitely watch next week.

  • Brie

    Comedy-wise, the standouts were Max and Penney, they seemed a lot more natural, where the others were trying too hard to be funny. Elisha Cuthbert didn’t make any impression at all.

    Considering that his real life father is hilarious, I was disappointed by Damon Wayans Jr; he was too over the top. The rest were just meh. I’ll give it a chance, because most pilots are pretty weak.

  • Radzinsky

    I have no idea, but “Modern Family” was seriously awesome tonight!

    Cameron: “Years from now they’ll be talking about how I Sondheim-ized them.”

  • Liz

    Really? So, the network offers us a blurb “friends, but not as white” or something close. Then the show opens with a runaway bride. We also get tourist braids, throwaway sarcasm. Gee, let me guess where the writers got their inspiration.

    I get that something completely new is difficult to do, but don’t just take a bunch of old Friends eps and mush them together (hey, lets have a BLONDE get ‘tourist braids’. That’ll be different.)

    I suppose its cute -i laughed a few times- but not original, and the characters just don’t pull me in. I just don’t think it has what it takes to stay in this lineup.

    • Kris

      I really dont think Monica was the first person to ever get tourist braids. I love Friends but I highly doubt the writers were like “Hey, remember that kind of forgettable episode when Friends was past its prime and Courtney Cox got tourist braids…lets integrate that in one scene of our pilot cause people will totally get it!” I believe it was more to establish that she went on the honeymoon.

      • Snickers

        you go girl

      • Jack

        …like Rachel did.

      • liz

        I realize Monica isn’t the first person to get tourist braids, a friend of mine got them back when 10 was new. I was just pulling out some of the similarities that I felt were blatant rip offs. I had Chandler flashbacks during some of the dialogue (honestly, I feel that’s what the gay character is supposed to be: Chandler Lite. Wasn’t there a question over C’s orientation more than once? It’s like they said, lets actually make him gay this time.)
        Alex reminds me a bit of Penny on Big Bang Theory, not sure why. The scene with Penny on the treadmill reminded me of the scene on Modern Family with Claire in the mall massage chair. These are the types of similarities that are ok, they pull you in with ‘this is like my favorite show’ maybe I’ll watch.

        Its the blatant ripping off that annoys. At least do it well, y’know? There was just not enough original or likeable stuff here. Maybe it will be good enough to pull in the people that REALLY miss Friends.

        And I agree with the person that felt the meanness of dumping the guy at the alter was over the top. I’ve dumped friends for less (not in front of a crowd of people!), and I would really have a difficult time being around the dumper for a long time after. But I also can’t watch those “funniest” video shows because I feel bad for the people being embarrassed. Maybe its just me. Don’t mind the self promoting dolts on wipeout, though.

  • Fabian

    I liked the part where Alex found out there was a camera in her fridge and she was showing to much cleavage, “Oh god. I made like three stir-frys last week.” And I liked Penny’s gay friend obsession. The 2nd episode was much better than the first. Loved it.

    • ET

      I only saw the second episode, and these comments are making me think that maybe I shouldn’t bother watching the first.

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