The Boob Tube Review: Happy Endings, Season 2, Ep. 10

Every week, we discuss the television we've been watching. There are usually plenty of spoilers, so beware. This is the first edition of a new format for the Boob Tube Review: from now on each show will get its own posts.

Happy Endings: "The Shrink, The Dare, Her Date and Her Brother"
Season 2, Episode 10, ABC

Happy Endings kicked off 2012 by proving that Community isn't the only show that can do self-reference. They launched into it right from the opening scene: having the entire cast complaining about romantic comedy tropes in a show full of romantic comedy tropes – even making reference to the runaway bride storyline that's given the show its narrative arc over the first season and a half. And that was just the beginning of twenty-plus minutes of rom-com cliches: silly contests, therapist jokes, pre-arranging phone calls to save characters from awkward social situations, even an unnecessary call to 911 to get some attractive firemen to come over. (Plus, there was the guest appearance by Ken Marino, which added a little bit of self-reference of its own: his character's name was Rick Rickman, echoing the silly name of his Party Down character, Ron Donald.)

But it was near the end of the episode that things got really interesting. Elisha Cuthbert and Daman Wayans Jr. go see a terrible romantic comedy at a movie theatre and the show starts cutting straight from the cliches happening on screen in front of them to the very same cliches happening in the show's own subplots. The same characters who began the episode by complaining about the bland predictably of romantic comedies are now clearly guilty of the same thing. But thanks to all that self-reference, it doesn't feel boring or predictable, but fresh and funny. So by making fun of its own trope-iness, Happy Endings manages to highlight the fact that it's not the tropes themselves that make a trope-filled movie or TV show seem dumb. It's the shitty writing.

And so, by the time the episode ends, two of the characters are able to indulge in one of the most overused cliches in all of rom-com-dom – discovering that the person you might truly belong with has been one of your best friends all along – and that climax happens on the very same set that we saw in the movie just minutes before. On a lesser sitcom – or even a less self-referential episode of this one – it might have seemed unforgivably heavy-handed. But on this particular night of Happy Endings, this happy ending seemed perfect instead.
- Adam Bunch

Photo: Elisha Cuthbert and Daman Wayans Jr. watch a romantic comedy in the romantic comedy series Happy Endings.

Read the next post about Happy Endings here. Or find all our Boob Tube Reviews here.


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