There’s no doubt about it: Happy Endings is most definitely cursed. While the show is, far and away, one of the smartest and funniest shows on television right now, it’s still haunted by the ghosts of sitcom’s past. Take for instance last night’s episode, which felt eerily reminiscent of classic episodes of Sex and the City, Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother.
If last night’s episode, titled “Party of Six” also gave you a bit of comedy déjà vu, let’s take a trip down sitcom memory lane and see how Happy Endings stacked up.
The dilemma: A truly terrible birthday.
Where you’ve seen it before: Sex and the City. Thanks to a series of miscommunications, Carrie spends her 35th birthday sitting alone at a table, sans friends, and winds up having to pay for her own birthday cake. Still, her gal pals pull through by taking her to their go-to spot for a late birthday dinner and Mr. Big surprises her outside her apartment with a bunch of red balloons (not 99, sadly.)
How it played out on Happy Endings: After enduring a lifetime of horrendous birthdays (or as Max will ominously say, “the curse of Penny continues”) Penny hoped her
31st 29th birthday would play out a little differently. Alas, she and her friends were kicked out of a series of restaurants, had their food tainted by their waitress who just happened to be Dave’s much younger ex-girlfriend, and to top it all off, Penny had her tires slashed and, quite literally, lost her shirt. Still, her pals pulled through by taking her to their go-to spot for a late birthday dinner.
Verdict: Both Penny and Carrie had bad birthdays that were ultimately redeemed, but Penny had a much worse bout of cursed birthdays. Plus, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte never switched bodies because of a curse by a Drag Me To Hell-like witch. The curse of Penny continues.
The dilemma: Not being able to go to certain restaurants because of a messy break-up.
Where you’ve seen it before: When Stella left Ted at the altar on How I Met Your Mother, the lovelorn Mr. Mosby blocked out entire sections of Manhattan in order to avoid her. After winding up at a tapas restaurant that Stella had once recommended, Ted had to hide under the table when she suddenly showed up. Being the good friends that they are, the rest of the gang hid right under the table with him and encouraged him to face Stella and give her a piece of his mind.
How it played out on Happy Endings: Penny was forced to cancel her original birthday plans at Big Dom’s when she realized she gave the restaurant to her ex Nick, as per the terms of their break-up agreement. When the gang eventually wound up there, Penny had to hide under the table to avoid Nick. Being the good friends that they are, the rest of the gang stayed right in their seats and encouraged Nick to get steppin’. Elsewhere, Brad and Jane had their own bad restaurant juju when it was revealed Brad once took Jane to his “break-up” restaurant. Of course, they lived happily ever after. She’s strong like a man.
Verdict: Sympathy goes to Ted. Sure, Penny lost her shirt and Jane found out the course of her life could have been completely different, but Stella was a straight-up she-devil.
The dilemma: So hungry. So very, very hungry.
Where you’ve seen it before: In one of the all-time great episodes of Seinfeld, Jerry and co. can’t get to their showing of Plan 9 From Outer Space while waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. Growing increasingly restless as name after name gets called before theirs, they dared each other to eat food off strangers’ plates. George even went so far as to say that for $50 he would “put my face in the soup and blow.” (Sadly, he did no such thing.) Eventually, they can’t take it anymore and leave. Seconds later, Jerry’s name is called.
How it played out on Happy Endings: Never getting past bread or tainted appetizers, a dazed and starved Max can’t wait to eat anymore as his friends continued to get bounced from restaurants thanks to their sexcapades and public nudity. Max went so far as to consider eating urine-soaked calamari, searched Penny’s purse for food only to find newspaper clippings, and made a harpoon straw to fish food off stranger’s tables. Sadly, he reeled in a shrimp and had to put it back.
Verdict: Happy Endings is on its way, but it’s not in Seinfeld territory yet.
So there you have it, PopWatchers: A great new episode of Happy Endings can be on par with a great rerun of classic comedies. Here now, the best lines from last night’s Happy Endings:
— “You can’t just go around Daylight Savings-ings people.” — Alex, to Jane
— “Like ‘tree’ as in the way a hardened New Yorker would say the number three? Cause, yeah, you look like a tree out of 10, at best.” — Max, before slipping into his Al Pacino impression
— “Hey, if Degrassi‘s on the field, play. Am I right?! Hey, I’m proud of the word play, not the message.” — Dave
— “Curse of Max’s love handles has struck again.” — Max, after accidentally turning off the lights with his body
— “I don’t remember you speaking any Spanish that night. In fact, instead of ordering tacos you asked for meat, lettuce, and cheese in one of those crispy, half-moon envelopes.” — Jane, to Brad
— “I once ate a bunch of peanut butter I found in a mouse trap and it did not kill me.” — Max, who should definitely be dead by now
— “Restaurants don’t have windshield wipers.” — Brad to Dave, who kept referring to himself as a “restaurant owner”
— “Chill down Andy, he’ll eat your world.” — Jane, to her new ‘friend’ Andy
— “I went to her prom, but only because I was writing a story for the Chicago Sun Times and my boss Garry Marshall was breathing down my neck.” — Dave, confusing his life with Never Been Kissed
— “We are too inside the box. We gotta branch out. Talk about restaurants that maybe don’t exist. For example, where does Gollum eat?” — Max
— “Now she’s back to Miracle? She’s having a tiny stroke!” — Max, after Alex went on her inspirational Miracle/Goonies speech (USA! USA! USA!)
So what do you think, PopWatchers? Great original Happy Endings episode or did it take too much from classics like Seinfeld and Sex and the City? Are you growing tired of the gang’s antics or does each episode make you cry ‘More!’? Rather, Mary Tyler Moore Tyler Moore Moore Moore? Share in the comments section below.