When a series isn’t sure if its season finale will end up being the final episode they ever share with their fans, it’s always a bonus when they manage to bring it around full circle. And in twelve short episodes that is exactly what Happy Endings does. But thankfully their end is not permanent; it is merely the turning of one chapter page to another. No longer will the show be a freshman comedy on ABC, and no longer will its characters be as unsure and somewhat lost as they have been.
Each new episode Happy Endings has delivered since its April 2011 debuted has showcased a little more heart, a little more charm, and a lot more smarts. The dialogue is crisper each week, and the references more subtle. Dave, Alex, Brad, Jane, Penny, and Max have grown from characters we observe and study on a screen to people we feel we hang out with every Wednesday night.
Some may be rooting for Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) to get back together, but for those who were hoping to see her pull her wedding dress back on, this finale won’t satisfy that for you. However, the series started with a wedding, and the first season will end with one when the gang heads to their friend Shershow (guest star T.J. Miller)’s surprise nuptials.
Fun fact: many of the wedding scenes were shot on location at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel right here in Studio City CA. You can see a photo preview here.
Shershow was a guy everyone in the group regarded as kind of a screw-up, and though Penny (Casey Wilson) had deemed him good enough to be her “back up,” no one really expected him to get married. Naturally this makes the rest of them begin to question some things in their lives. Well, mostly Penny, who realizes she can’t stand to be at the wedding alone, so she lies and says she, too, is engaged and then gets her one-time gay best friend to play the part.
That may sound ripe for comedy, but there is an underlying sadness, too, and that is what keeps this show so grounded and from being “just” a sitcom. Penny’s struggles to find a relationship have been chronicled all season as points of humor because she just tries so darn hard, but in the season finale, she seems a bit beaten by the game. She may have lost a little energy to go out and snag the next guy who walks by, but she hasn’t lost her spark. And we all know what that will most likely mean: the minute she stops looking, she’ll find someone. Look out, guys of season two!
But first back to the season finale, “The Shershow Redemption.” In obtaining his minister license to officiate over his pal’s ceremony, Max (Adam Pally) lets it slip that when he officiated over Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe)’s wedding years earlier, he didn’t actually have a license.
Side bar: why didn’t Dave and Alex want him to perform their ceremony??
Anyway, this is just one screw-up early on in the episode that Max admits to that makes everyone calling him the “new Shershow” but really Shershow just embodies the theme for the episode, and in turn, the season. All of these characters are flawed and still in need of some maturing, but in this season finale, they each take great strides in their own ways. Taking a step forward sets them up for a slightly more serious path in season two, but obviously it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll continue to go forward or if they’ll take a step back for humor’s sake.
Ever the control freak, Jane takes charge again and decides to plan the perfect party that she and her happy husband didn’t get to have due to family demands and the oblivion of youth. Something seems different in her this time, though; she is calmer and dare we say it? less anal than in previous plans, even as she sets up to schedule a last minute wedding for just hours after Shershow’s. She slows down and takes in what surrounds her and realizes she may not need to take control of this one. For her, that is huge growth!
And then of course there is Alex and Dave, who have made great strides but are still not quite on the same page. Dave was hung up on Alex in the beginning, after being left at the alter, but now it is Alex who seems to still be holding a torch for Dave. Yet there is something so endearing about seeing them power through the mixed feelings and come out the other side as friends. And in this episode, wingmen.
Happy Endings is one of those rare shows where there is not a link weak anywhere in the cast or in the characters. We want to see what adventures they’ll have next, and thankfully we won’t have to settle for the little nuggets that they’ll all be okay as planted in this episode. Thanks to ABC’s renewal, we’ll get to watch them play out next year. So though this isn’t a final ending, it is still one happy episode!
Happy Endings will air its first season finale on ABC at 10:30pm.
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