Having heard that this ambiguously-named E4 comedy had been imported from the glamorous USA, I predicted that it would either feature fairy-tale characters ala Shrek, OR, it would be set in Asia, and follow the lives of some naughty masseuses. Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts.
Merely a week after E4 un-friended F.R.I.E.N.D.S, they’ve decided to fill their schedule with not-very-funny impersonators; tribute acts, if you like. Happy Endings follows a group of six middle-class mates who struggle to remain united after Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) ditches Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the altar, ending a relationship that was the gluey epicentre holding the group together – like two eggs in a Victoria Sponge.
The title of the show, therefore, is ironic. In fact, the title serves as a brilliant ambassador for the level of comedy the show provides. Weak irony. There are funny moments, but these moments are funny in the same way an old man farting on a bus is funny. You laugh for a second, and then everything begins to smell.
Speaking of farts, Happy Endings does trump F.R.I.E.N.D.S in one particular area: there is no laughter/clapping/whooping track. This I applaud. (Ha.)
There are one or two giggle worthy one-liners. Controlled wannabe-mum Jane quips, ‘do you know how hard it is to get slut out of Egyptian cotton’, and stereotypically homosexual Max says, ‘even I think roller-skates are gay, and I had sex with a dude last night.’ However, that’s practically all the laughs on offer.
The episode reaches a dull climax at Penny’s 30th birthday party, where a whole host of old, boring and tired comedy formulas are thrust into our faces as entertainment. There are three formulas that are particularly old, boring and incredibly tired. 1) Penny pretends she’s actually turning 26 to impress her new boyfriend, who 2) Max believes to be gay, all of which forces 3) Jane to disguise vodka as water and secretly get gazeboed.
All of this is meant to take us on an enjoyable white-chuckle ride, but I just wound up despising the group of wealthy friends. They are annoying. None of them seem to have jobs. And they don’t really seem to care about each other either – so why should we care about them? Herein lies a fundamental problem: the show lacks an emotional core.
Compared to triumphant comedies such as Outnumbered, Gavin and Stacey and Episodes – Happy Endings epically fails to push the boundaries of situation comedy. There’s a lot of room for improvement, and word from the other side of the Atlantic promises that the series gets better episode by episode. But I’ll be honest with you readers; I’d rather fight a shark with a toothbrush than watch another second.