Everyone needs to cool it in regards to Modern Family.
Before you tear me limb from limb, know that I’m not trying insinuate that it’s a bad show; I’ve seen a few episodes here and there and I would describe my viewing experience as being “pleasant,” but I have never felt compelled to watch an entire season in one sitting as I have with other programs. (Of course, this might be, to some extent, motivated by spite on my part because every person I can think of ever has told me “Oh, you would LOVE Modern Family! It’s totally your type of humor!” Unless you changed my diaper when I was a baby or you have seen me cry and/or vomit, you do not know me on a deep enough interpersonal level to make judgment calls about my tastes). What I’m saying is that I don’t think Modern Family is “sweep the Emmy’s” good, it’s more “I didn’t go to class because I planned on staying at home and getting lots of work done, but it’s 3pm, I’m still in my PJs, and I’m bored so I want to watch something right now” good. As a fan of comedy, it breaks my heart that sitcoms like Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory reign supreme while 30 Rock is leaving the airwaves well before it’s time (with a shortened season, no less).
And now, we’ve reached the root of my anger and frustration. Anyone who knows me at all – this even includes individuals who aren’t members of the elusive “Watch Kiyana Purge Her System” Club – has probably been able to infer that I am an avid fan and admirer of Tina Fey. I am so in awe of Tina’s comedic chops that I believe she should be the Gold Standard for women. When mothers are raising their daughters they should try to instill “Tina Fey-esque” values in them; cleverness, a sharp wit, dignity, charm, a healthy dose of humility, and the list goes on. When I was a sophomore in high school I remember developing a crush on a boy who confidently proclaimed, “Tina Fey is a goddess and all women should aspire to be like her” (he may have been the most intelligent man I’ve ever encountered). 30 Rock – much like Arrested Development before it – is a comedy show that makes you work for a laugh. The jokes aren’t packaged neatly with little bows and presented before you on a silver platter. Instead, the pace is fast, requiring the audience to possess some level of awareness that, evidently, might be unreasonable to expect out of the average American viewer. However, if you really pay attention to what you’re watching, the pay-off is enormous. Shows like 30 Rock and Arrested Development – as well as Community – derive strength from their ability to cram multiple jokes into a minute of screen-time by building jokes upon jokes and sneaking in subtle background gags. For instance, 30 Rock has been subtly dropping hints throughout the course of the show’s run that NBC page Kenneth is some sort of immortal non-human, while Arrested Development littered clues throughout its three seasons suggesting that Tobias Fünke is of African American descent and he suffers from a pigmentation disorder. These shows are critical darlings that go largely unnoticed by the general populace, and it’s a real damn shame.
So why am I bringing up shows that are effectively over? (I’m sorry, Community fans, things aren’t exactly promising for you right now). Because not all failed shows that should have been huge successes get a second chance, the way that Arrested Development has; we shouldn’t count on our favorite shows being reinvigorated years down the line when audiences finally come to the realization that they let something great slip through their fingers. I have friends that have recently gotten into 30 Rock by watching entire seasons in one go on Netflix, and while this is great, I can’t help but also feel a little sad; if the episodes you’re now watching online had been paid attention to when they were on the air, maybe we wouldn’t be losing such a great program/my only source of true happiness on this bleak and miserable plane of existence. So, I want to bring your attention to a show that is still currently on the air that deserve a wider audience, rather than an inevitable cancellation by network executives (or, in the case of 30 Rock, a self-inflicted cancellation).
Happy Endings is a comedy that first premiered on ABC in April 2011, and has recently entered its third season. Much like How I Met Your Mother, Happy Endings is an attempt to capitalize on the immensely huge success that Friends enjoyed, in that it centers around the lives of six young people – three men, three women – living in an urban city. And much like Friends, there is the obligatory on-again-off-again couple whose relationship status is always in question; there is a type-A control freak; there’s a ditzy character, etc. Nevertheless, even though Happy Endings is built on a foundation laid down by Friends, the tone and humor of the show are much more similar to that of 30 Rock and Arrested Development. The cast is composed of married couple Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe), formerly engaged couple Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton), perpetually single Penny (former SNL alum, Casey Wilson) and the gay, yet butch, man-child Max (Adam Pally). These six actors mesh together beautifully, making each scene seem effortless. The dialogue is fast-paced and perfect for those of us who are up to date on our popular references. Unlike shows like Sex and the City or Entourage that have earned reputations for being rather gender-specific, Happy Endings is all-inclusive. The humor is absurd in a way that isn’t alienating, much like Scrubs used to be. If you enjoy New Girl, but find Zoey Deschanel’s “adorkableness” grating, then Happy Endings is a wonderful alternative.
And now, I’ll just let the show do the talking for itself. In no particular order, here are five of my favorite moments from the show’s past two seasons:
1. Jane’s Surprise Birthday
2. Penny Speaks Italian
3. Brad and Max’s Bro Dance
4. Whore’s Bath
5. Like A Prayer
And one more for good measure: Oh No He Didn’t
Happy Endings airs on ABC Tuesdays at 9/8c.