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Happy Endings aired from April 2011 until ? on ABC.

Forget who gets to keep the ring -- when a couple splits, the real question is, who gets to keep the friends? In this modern comedy, a couple's break-up will complicate all of their friends' lives and make everyone question their choices. When life throws you for a curve, hold on tight to the people you love. Every circle of friends has someone who's the gravitational center. For years, perfect couple Dave and Alex drew their friends in and held them together. Now that they've split, does this group have the stuff to stay together? Or do Max, Brad, Jane and Penny have to choose sides? Suddenly every event is a negotiation... like, who gets to go on the annual ski trip? There are a lot of big questions to be answered, but this group has been together so long, somehow, little by little, they'll figure out how to hold on, even though their center is split up. It helps that Dave and Alex have agreed to stay friends. But there will definitely be other complications down the road. This show isn't afraid to ask the embarrassing personal questions that inevitably arise in every long-term, close-knit group of friends.
Happy Endings stars Eliza Coupe (Scrubs) as Jane, Elisha Cuthbert (24) as Alex, Zachary Knighton (FlashForward) as Dave, Adam Pally as Max, Damon Wayans, Jr. (The Underground) as Brad and Casey Wilson (Saturday Night Live) as Penny. The series is from executive producers Jamie Tarses (My Boys), Jonathan Groff (How I Met Your Mother), Anthony & Joe Russo (Community, Arrested Development) and co-executive producer David Caspe (the upcoming feature film I Hate You Dad). The pilot was written by David Caspe and directed by Anthony & Joe Russo, and is from Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios.

A Review from Variety

TV Reviews

Posted: Tue., Apr. 12, 2011, 6:30pm PT
Happy Endings
(Series -- ABC, Weds. April 13, 9:30 p.m.)
By Brian Lowry

Filmed in Los Angeles by Fan Fare in association with ABC Studios and Sony Pictures Television. Executive producers, Jonathan Groff, Jamie Tarses, Anthony Russo, Joe Russo; co-executive producer, David Caspe; producer, Liz Newman; directors, Russo, Russo; writer, Caspe.

Jane - Eliza Coupe
Alex - Elisha Cuthbert
Dave - Zachary Knighton
Max - Adam Pally
Brad - Damon Wayans Jr.
Penny - Casey Wilson

Since a sextet of friends worked once before, producers and networks are to be forgiven for try, trying again. Enter "Happy Endings," a fairly nondescript if inoffensive sitcom created by TV novice David Caspe that begins with an attention-grabbing moment -- a bride leaves her would-be groom at the altar -- but then descends into a familiar assortment of 30-ish types looking for love, and dealing with the strange characters passing through their orbit. An immature critic might make light of the show's title, but to be fully satisfying, the whole thing could use a bit more massaging.

"None of us have made a new friend in like 11 years," one member of the close-knit group says in the pilot, and hey, given how much time they spend together, who can blame them?

Still, the chummy band's dynamics are threatened when Alex ("24's" Elisha Cuthbert) backs out of her planned marriage to Dave (Zachary Knighton). For awhile, their friends worry they'll be forced to choose sides.

As for those friends, there's control-freak Jane (Eliza Coupe); her husband, Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.); the love-starved Penny (Casey Wilson); and the gay (and a little love-starved himself) Max (Adam Pally).

The initial premise, however, soon gives way to more conventional sitcom plots in the four episodes previewed: Jane and Brad's attempt to befriend another couple, Max trying to conceal his sexuality from his parents, Dave trying to extricate himself from a clingy one-night-stand described as "chicksand."

There are, admittedly, some amusing lines and moments peppered throughout, from Penny trying to pass herself off as being Jewish (among other things) to impress a date, to a sly what-if reference about Alex's father being a secret agent. The level of sexual innuendo is also fairly crude, though a 10 p.m. timeslot (after a push-start behind "Modern Family") ought to deflate any grumblings. And Wayans bears such an uncanny resemblance to his famous father that it takes a couple of episodes just to quit marveling that he wasn't cloned.

Ultimately, though, "Endings" is less than the sum of its parts, and the potential serialized thread involving Alex and Dave and the evolving state of their relationship doesn't provide much of a hook. The show also has the misfortune to arrive at the tail end of a slew of similar-looking sitcoms, placed in a let's-try-comedy-at-10 o'clock gambit whose viability remains suspect at best.

"Happy Endings" isn't unpleasant, certainly, but might face the same dilemma as its characters: An inability to make -- or at least keep -- enough new friends.

Camera, Jim Hawkinson; production designer, Derek Hill; editors, Cindy Mollo, Richard Candib; music, Ludwig Goransson; casting, Susan Vash. 30 MIN.

A Review from The New York Times

Take ‘Friends’ to Chicago, Then Hit Fast-Forward
Published: April 12, 2011

In the pre-Facebook era of “Friends,” the American television audience more or less rolled with the idea that a group of six men and women in their 20s would spend all of their time in one another’s company, confined to a single living room and a cloyingly named coffee bar. By the time we were well into the new millennium, we knew better. Or rather we understood that the only condition in which we might be having dinner with the same people all of the time was if we were sequestered with them on a bizarre island after a suspicious plane crash. And so we watched “Lost,” with its CliffsNotes philosophies and an implicitly grim view of structured socializing that seemed perfectly suited to the virtual age.
More About This Series

Now what do we make of “Happy Endings,” a homage to communality and material presence? A comedy beginning on Wednesday on ABC after the sardonic “Modern Family,” whose tone it tries and falls short of emulating, “Happy Endings” is both a retro version of “Friends” and a more superficially progressive one. Set in Chicago — by which I mean a soundstage somewhere like Burbank, Calif., that looks like New York but is called Chicago — the series revolves around six friends who speak in self-deprecating asides and reference-heavy observations, sometimes simultaneously: “When I get nervous,” Penny the singleton says to a prospective date, “I turn into Blanche in ‘The Golden Girls.’ ”

Another series about full-immersion hanging out, “The Golden Girls” arguably trafficked in more forward-thinking attitudes about gender relations than what we are given here. On “Happy Endings” women try endlessly to feminize husbands, and men can’t talk to other men about much beyond nachos. Where the series attempts to flaunt its sitcom liberalism is in the inclusion of an interracial couple and a gay character, who, far from demonstrating even the remotest interest in window treatments, is all slovenly masculinity. It’s as if he were assuming the persona of Vince Vaughn but retaining a firemen calendar in his head.

Nitpickers may say that the series is overcompensating, working too hard to distinguish itself from the “Will & Grace” era, when the presentation of a stereotypical gay lifestyle alone was considered a victory. But we ought to be happy enough to get a gay character on this kind of television who isn’t in a constant mode of Gloria Gaynor karaoke, not to quibble. The character, played by Adam Pally, isn’t merely post-camp; he is beyond the idea of self-identification. “Coming out is so gay,” he tells one of his friends. “Why should I? My parents only visit like once every two years.”

The stated conceit of “Happy Endings” involves the difficult negotiations that ripple around the breakup of a straight couple, Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex, who is played by Elisha Cuthbert as a ditz who leaves her betrothed at the altar for a fling with a guy who arrives on Rollerblades to bust up the proceedings. Ms. Cuthbert played Jack Bauer’s daughter on “24,” and she always got in the way precisely when Jack’s services were needed to prevent world-calamitous bomb detonation. Her image as a nuisance still lingers, and the show’s deployment of “The Graduate” as a jumping-off point goes nowhere. Plastics? These people aren’t tormented by career ambivalence — they hardly seem to have jobs.

Happy Endings

ABC, Wednesday night at 9:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 8:30, Central time.

Produced by Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios. Pilot written by David Caspe; pilot directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo; Jamie Tarses, Jonathan Groff, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, executive producers; Mr. Caspe, co-executive producer.

WITH: Eliza Coupe (Jane), Elisha Cuthbert (Alex), Zachary Knighton (Dave), Adam Pally (Max), Damon Wayans Jr. (Brad) and Casey Wilson (Penny).

A Review from The LA Times

'Endings' is off to a promising start
Six friends mine pop culture for one liners — and it works.


We have come to that time in the turning year when, faced with having to review another six-person relationship comedy, it falls upon us to ask, "Why is this relationship comedy different from all other relationship comedies?" As regard "Happy Endings," the short answer is that this one premieres Wednesday on ABC, is set in Chicago and begins with a groom left standing at the altar.

As it happens, it is also good. Created by TV first-timer David Caspe, the series has a lot of familiar muscle for support, including executive producers Jamie Tarses ("My Boys"), Jonathan Groff ("Late Night With Conan O'Brien," "How I Met Your Mother"), and Anthony and Joe Russo ("Arrested Development"), who also do some directing. It is nothing new, but it is well assembled and expertly played.

The six main characters break down into one married couple and four singles, one of them gay and two formerly affianced. In the first moments of the first episode, on the edge of an "I do," Alex (Eliza Cuthbert) leaves Dave (Zachary Knighton) for a guy on roller blades, who promptly disappears from the series. This seaworthy premise, that such an event might force mutual friends to choose among the abandoned and abandoning parties, is taken out for a spin, but only briefly, because the whole point of this show, and others like it -- the children of "Friends," -- is that they're all inseparably bonded. Indeed, when they venture outside their circle, it's with bad results.

"We have enough friends," Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) tells wife Jane (Eliza Coupe), which also means he may remain the lone black person in sight.

Most of the cast members have roots in sketch comedy -- Coupe, "Saturday Night Live" vet Casey Wilson, who plays love-hungry Penny, and Adam Pally (gay guy Max, who is also the Jewish guy) are associated with the Upright Citizens Brigade, where the cool kids hang out these days -- and occasionally the comics overshadow the characters. A line like "The only single people in the suburbs are pedophiles and lesbian guidance counselors" is random stand-up disguised as dialogue. But "That was my worst birthday since my mom Frenched my boyfriend at Epcot" tells us much about Penny.

The dialogue is full of cultural references from which we may reverse engineer the brains of people born around 1980. These include the Indigo Girls, "Les Miserables," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," Dr. Sanjay Gupta and John Mayer. Wiki is used as a verb and a laugh line is balanced on the term "UPN reality show." Dave's too-young rebound date proudly wears a hat "signed by Turtle from 'Entourage,' " a summation of character I regard with not a little awe. One of Jane's pet names for Brad is "black Han Solo," the second black Han Solo joke I've seen on TV in as many weeks. One more and I can write a trend piece.

A Review from The Boston Globe

A good, if familiar, start for ‘Endings’
Television Review
April 13, 2011|By Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff

Help. I’m feeling a little clone-ly.

There is so much scorn and disapproval to be heaped on “Happy Endings,’’ ABC’s new ensemble sitcom. It is too obviously modeled on “Friends’’ — about a decade after the fact. Six impossibly close friends? A high-ceilinged, quirkily furnished apartment with exposed brick? A chronically on-and-off romantic pair? Check, check, and check.

Plus, “Happy Endings’’ arrives amid a group of similar post-“Friends’’ sitcoms that all thrive on dating woes and the kind of hyper-idiomatic repartee that flourishes on Bravo. With the shows “Perfect Couples,’’ “Better With You,’’ “Rules of Engagement,’’ “Traffic Light,’’ and “Mad Love’’ already flocking prime time, who needs “Happy Endings,’’ whose first two episodes premiere tonight at 9:30 on Channel 5?

And yet, despite the fact that it’s a clone lacking in conceptual originality, despite its cliched situations involving too-needy women and emotionally phobic men, I like this show. ABC sent four episodes, and I found my resistance to “Happy Endings’’ fading with each half-hour. The pilot is a forced effort to introduce the characters and set up the romantic tension that will run the course of the series, as Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) leaves Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the altar in a “Graduate’’-like scene. The characters, who live in Chicago, all seem too familiar. But by the fourth episode, called “Mein Coming Out,’’ the show has grown truly funny and the characters have become distinctive, as a coming-out subplot and a Hitler subplot crash into each other.

Turns out “Happy Endings’’ is one of those rare TV cases of rising above, as the writing and the ensemble energy trump the stale premise. Cuthbert, who was the dreaded and oft-imperiled Kim on “24,’’ is mostly in the background of the show, as the other more comically loose players take over — although the writers, including creator David Caspe, do give Cuthbert a “24’’ joke about Kim’s cougar face-off. Adam Pally stands out as Max, the gay friend who, beginning in the second episode, is definitely not the gay stereotype TV too often resorts to. Penny (Casey Wilson, from “Saturday Night Live’’) wants the sluggish Max to be the Will to her Grace, but he’s not on the same page.

She: “You’re a straight dude who likes dudes. I want a gay who’ll watch house-flipping shows with me and grab my boobs in a platonic way.’’

He: “So you want a stereotypically flamboyant, cartoonish, ‘Sex and the City’ gay? It’s offensive.’’

She: “The heart wants what the heart wants.’’ Penny gets her gay in one episode, but he’s a little more — and less — than she bargained for.

Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and his wife, Jane (Eliza Coupe), are the other two members of the group. He is black, which helps distinguish “Happy Endings’’ a bit more from “Friends,’’ which was short on people of color. He is a metrosexual who knows way too much about exfoliation, and she is a control freak. Their chemistry is unexpected and natural, and appealingly self-aware jokes are made about how Jane needed to come out to her parents about falling in love with a black man. Wayans looks like his father, but he comes across here as more restrained.

On the best ensemble sitcoms, including “How I Met Your Mother’’ and “Modern Family,’’ writers and actors seem to have a nice give-and-take as they develop characters across a first season. Let’s hope that that kind of happy gelling happens on “Happy Endings,’’ that the show’s clone origins become a distant memory.

An Article from The New York Times

Winning the Post-‘Friends’ Sweepstakes

Published: October 14, 2011

With little promotion behind it, the show had its debut in April, when the traditional network season was running out of steam. Critics didn’t embrace it. (Writing in The New York Times, Ginia Bellafante described it as “both a retro version of ‘Friends’ and a more superficially progressive one.”) And it was the latest entry in a yearlong parade of ensemble comedies featuring actors navigating the travails of being good looking and young in hip city neighborhoods: CBS had “Mad Love.” Fox had “Traffic Light.” NBC had “Perfect Couples” along with “Love Bites” and “Friends With Benefits” on deck. Every network was after that Ross-and-Rachel magic, and they’d produce as many attempts as they could afford.

Six months later, “Happy Endings” is the sole survivor. “No, is that true?” said Elisha Cuthbert, one of the show’s stars, reached by phone. “Are they really all gone?”

They are. Only “Happy Endings,” with its sextet of 30-ish Chicagoans, received a second season. What it still hasn’t got, another cast member, Adam Pally, pointed out, is prime promotion from the network. “I haven’t seen one commercial for us during ‘Modern Family,’ ” Mr. Pally said last month on the day before his show’s second-season premiere, in the time slot after “Modern Family.” Then again, he admitted: “It’s kind of nice to come in under the radar. I think it gives people a certain ownership of the show.”

At the outset, the deck seemed stacked against the cheery, slightly campy series. It wasn’t just that it was late to a party full of rivals. ABC also decided to broadcast episodes out of order: it didn’t consider the first and second installments funny enough. In the pilot Ms. Cuthbert’s character dumps her fiancé (Zachary Knighton) at the altar. The network felt that over the next two episodes that they and their pals — a married couple (Damon Wayans Jr. and Eliza Coupe) and two singles (Mr. Pally and Casey Wilson) — spent too much time coping with the breakup.

“The network wanted viewers to be able to find the show at any point and still enjoy it,” said the series creator, David Caspe. “They had 13 episodes sitting in front of them and the luxury of saying, ‘Let’s lead with our funniest.’ But it was still a moment of huge trepidation for me.”

Despite the strategy, the show struggled in the ratings. In the second week, ABC changed the time slot — and viewership dropped from 7.2 million to about 4.5 million. And yet positive word of mouth started to spread. Week 3 brought a 17 percent ratings rebound. (An episode this month drew 6.7 million but lost ground among viewers 18 to 49.) Some critics even came around. At, Maureen Ryan revisited the show late in the season and wrote, “I’m happy to say that ‘Endings’ improved in a number of key ways.”

Samie Falvey, a vice president of comedy production at ABC, described the show’s value with words like “fresh” and “unique” and “buzzworthy” — terms that are thrown about constantly in networkland. But Ms. Falvey had a point about the show, and its qualities became apparent as the show outlasted its rivals.

For starters, the dialogue is honed to the sensibilities of the actors, who are all 28 to 32. “The way we speak on camera is how we talk,” said Ms. Coupe, who plays the show’s married perfectionist. “Those are our speech patterns and weird pronunciations and silly names for each other. I’ll read a line sometimes and think, ‘My friend just said that yesterday.’ ”

If the scripts are tight, the workplace mood is loose. Because half the cast — Mr. Pally, Ms. Coupe and Ms. Wilson — have strong backgrounds in improv and sketch comedy, time for riffing is built into the call sheet. “I’ve never been on an Adam McKay set, but I’d imagine this is what it’s like,” Mr. Pally said. “We do a few takes on-script, then one unscripted.”

They are also dogged about perfecting their timing and sticking the punch lines. “We all wanted to prove we had the comedy chops to pull this off,” Ms. Cuthbert said.

With the focus on laughs, it’s easy to forget that “Endings” studiously plays to the themes that its audience will identify with. They just prefer to cloak them in absurdity.

In the second-season premiere, for instance, one character deals with first-time homeownership issues, while race and sexuality loom as obstacles to friendship in another plot strand. Though the themes are supposed to reel in viewers of similar age and circumstance, Mr. Caspe doesn’t worry if a plot takes a turn for the specific, like the conversation on the merits of coming out that was buoyed by the girls’ competition to be the best beard.

“Obviously, we hope there’s a relatability to the show,” Mr. Caspe said. “But I’m not sure these characters represent the average 30-year-old. They’re all pretty weird.”

They’re also all pretty fully formed. These 30-somethings have certain things — like their social circle — figured out. It’s true that the group manages to convey a decade of shared 20s mishaps — an effect that’s probably easily achieved, considering each actor spent the decade before “Endings” trying to scrape together a career and a normal life.

Before she was discovered, Ms. Coupe worked as a bathroom attendant at the Times Square Heartland Brewery (“a job I took only because I heard that the ‘SNL’ after-after-parties were there”).

Ms. Wilson kicked around St. Mark’s Place with her longtime writing partner, June Diane Raphael — the two will soon weave those experiences into an ABC pilot, “Walk of Shame.” “Our lives were in shambles, financially and emotionally,” she said. “We were up to weird stuff.”

Mr. Pally taped pilot presentations and hustled them into network mailrooms. Mr. Knighton managed to get guest roles on “Law & Order” and “Bones,” while Mr. Wayans wrote for his father’s series, “My Wife and Kids,” as well as “The Underground,” refining his standup on the side.

Ms. Cuthbert, on the other hand, signed on to “24” when she was 18 and spent the next nine years there (as Jack Bauer’s repeatedly imperiled daughter) and then lusted after a comedy project that would turn her image on its head.

“In my heart, I think the reason the show works is that they found people who were ready for it,” Ms. Cuthbert said. “Maybe all it took was the six of us being true to ourselves, playing these characters with honesty and intention. And really, really wanting it.”

An Article from The Huffington Post

Happy Endings Is the Most Important Gay Show on TV Right Now
Posted: 12/14/11 12:00 AM ET

A recent episode of ABC's Happy Endings ended with Max, the resident gay character played by Adam Pally, stretched out on a couch, shirtless, with a look of ecstasy on his face. Because he was stuffing it with a huge sandwich, its contents spilling out all over his large, exposed hairy stomach.

In terms of positive portrayals of gays on mainstream television, that one scene did more for me than three seasons of Kurt on Glee. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that a massive hit has a main character like Kurt, who's adamant about believing in and being yourself. But it also bugs me that Kurt reinforces the same cartoon stereotypes we've been fed for years -- he's what I imagine Dr. Smith from Lost in Space must have been like as a teen, before growing old and bitter.

But Max! He's lazy, unshaven, wears dirty flannel shirts, watches loads of TV and probably smells like hot sauce and cheap deodorant that's failing fast. He's best friends with a couple of straight dudes -- even lives with one -- and neither of them could care less that he's gay. And Max doesn't care much either. So far, the only time Max's sexuality has come up as an issue was in an episode a couple of weeks back. Max insisted that Dave (Zachary Knighton) was breaking a bro code by dating Max's ex-girlfriend from high school. Dave claimed the code didn't apply because Max is gay. Turns out Max's angst had nothing to do with some lame code -- the lady broke Max's heart when he was a teenager and he still remembers how much that hurt, so Dave backed down out of respect for his friend's feelings. Weird, that of all programs, it took a 30-minute prime time network sitcom to nail the normal bond many gay men have with their straight buds. I can't think of any other television show that's depicted it so effortlessly.

Before anyone gripes that the reason Max is so well liked by his male friends on the show and considered a safe bet for mainstream audiences is because he's displaying hetero-normative characteristics -- like watching football on Sundays and loving big plastic toy guns -- remember that most other shows that have offered us gay characters that acted "straight" also neutered the poor guy to the point of asexuality. Whenever straight dude friends were around, the gay guy would act like there was nothing between his legs except the gently sloping mound of a Ken doll crotch. (I'm looking at you, Matt Fielding and Eric van der Woodsen). Max, on the other hand, has no problem bragging about his sex life with all his straight male pals. And they have no problem with it because they talk right back about theirs. My one concern is that the show might use Max's detached attitude towards love and relationships to avoid ever having to show him actually kiss a guy. But if it means more shots of Pally mouthing off while proudly sprawled out with his beer belly exposed, it's worth the trade.

For a Page dedicated to Happy Endings go to

For a Website dedicated to Elisha Cuthbert go to

For a Website dedicated to Elisha Cuthbert go to

For a Website dedicated to Eliza Coupe go to
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