Alex Morris looks at how Happy Endings found its footing:
Rather than improve ratings by noticeably changing course (as Parks and Recreation had done after its first season), the cast and crew leaned into the weirdness of their comedy.
Coupe and Wayans, who play married couple Jane and Brad turned their characters’ initial overachieving-bobo quirks into a full-blown orgy of neuroses—the second season finds Brad wearing a shirtdress because “Daddy likes a deep tuck,” and Jane stalking a kid she thinks might be her egg-donor baby (in fact the parents didn’t use her egg because they thought she seemed just the kind of crazy who would stalk her egg-donor baby). Wilson gave her singleton an ability to rebound that verges on masochism. And Pally’s gay character, Max, so brilliantly overhauls TV’s go-to flamboyant stereotype that in one episode he slovenly hibernates for the winter, like a bear.
For me, Happy Endings can be hit-or-miss (the bear hibernation was a miss), but I admire the way it has morphed from another sorta-like-Friends show to its own weird beast. I wouldn’t want to hang out with any of these narcissistic self-defeating chatterboxes, but I like them hanging out together.
One of the amazing things about writing television is that unlike a feature, you can actually change course — provided you started with the good elements. You cast the roles you’ve written in the pilot, but you’re also looking at what the actors themselves bring. Writers and actors have a shared responsibility for the characters that’s unique.
Happy Endings is coming back for a third season in the fall.