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Saturday, December 29, 2012
Arts & Entertainment

Couch Potato

Happy Endings: Friends re-imagined better

When a show is built around a dysfunctional group of individuals hanging out and getting romantically involved with each other at some point, one immediately thinks “Friends”. Crane and Kauffman's original premise is recycled, re-used and rehashed every year. 2012 was obviously no different. Replace café with bar, toss in an ethnic minority and you have a repackaged modern version of the same old show. It's a tried and tested formula and it works. Bombarded with shows like “How I Met Your Mother”, “Couplings”, “Mad Love”, “Perfect Couples” and many others, it's easy to see that they are all just clones. And then you have “Happy Endings”; a “Friend's” clone but a funnier one. A lot funnier.

“Happy Endings” starts from where most shows end; Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) leaves Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the altar when a guy on roller-blades crashes the wedding, prompting Alex to run away with him. Although Alex explains that more than someone else it was a pure case of cold feet, Dave's humiliation continues to live on in Youtube videos. The dramatic change in circumstances also threatens to tear the friend circle apart. With each inseparable from another, the six friends find choosing either Dave or Alex quite difficult and disaster ensues whenever they all head out together. Now, although that doesn't sound like a show with much promise, rest assured that it is one of the funniest shows of the year.

The characters are equally developed throughout the course of the season. Starting off as unoriginal as imaginable; an angry singleton, a suburban couple who hate everything suburban and of course Dave and Alex who can't stand each other, all of that becomes acceptable in time. The show delivers stand-up comedic gems disguised as dialogues. There are “Miami Heat” references, a black Han Solo utterance and many ethnicity jokes done with more class than “Modern Family” could ever manage. “Happy Endings” starts off as “Friends”, acts like “New Girl”, and delivers lines like “Community”. That's three brilliant shows wrapped in one.

The comic pace is usually spot-on. The characters don't even try to appear real; they rush through dialogues, always keeping the banter fast-paced and humorous. The punch lines are unexpected and hard to predict and most importantly timed-right. Like any show revolving around friends, there are feel-good moments but these are far and few in-between. “Happy Endings” uses the form of humour that most shows stray away from, relying on its awkwardness and it fits. The one-liners aren't racist, offensive or laced with innuendo; it's much simpler than that. And with each of the characters already having a background in sketch comedy, like Adam Pally and Casey Wilson, the entire process seems effortless and not forced. No background applause or laughter is required.

Finally, apart from the obvious focus on the group dynamics, the show's treatment of the couples is what separates it from other similar shows. Where one would have difficulty separating Chandler from Monica or Ross and Rachel, “Happy Endings” reserves most development on individuals. When characters in a show grow with the season, they become much easier to relate to.

“Happy Endings” is ever-changing and evolving. In the three seasons so far, it is yet to become stuck in a rut. So far though, the show comes out with top marks and thus is very much a part of the must-watch shows of the year.

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