By Aly Semigran
Updated February 09, 2012 at 01:44 PM EST
Credit: Richard Foreman/ABC
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If there’s one thing going against Happy Endings right now — much like any show that features an ensemble of funny, clever, urban twenty-thirtysomethings — is that it will inevitably be compared to Friends or Seinfeld. But that curse also just happens to be Happy Endings’ blessing, because this particular comedy takes the best elements of those iconic shows, Friends‘ goofiness and sensitivity and Seinfeld‘s sharpness and cynicism and adds its own self-aware sense of humor. Not to mention some refreshingly modern characters.

Yes, this all sounds like a bit of a Valentine to Happy Endings, but it feels especially appropriate and deserved after last night’s episode, “The St. Valentine’s Day Maxssacre.” Like any given episode of Friends, there were moments from last night’s Happy Endings that were predictable but hysterical nevertheless. We knew Dave was going to botch his date with “crazy sex girl” Lindsay, we know Penny would wind up breaking up with her flavor of the week Reid, we knew Alex was going to be mistaken for a hooker, and we knew Brad was going to end his streak of perfect dentist visits.

But even with its Friends-esque group dynamic (here, Dave is Ross, Alex is Rachel, Penny is Phoebe, Jane is Monica, and Max is Fat Joey) and its Seinfeld-like lexicon (“breakup window” and “He’s a winker” and “Let’s face it, no one has ever had a friend in town” could have all easily been uttered by Jerry and Co.) the new episode of Happy Endings still served as a reminder that it’s one of the freshest, funniest shows on TV today. The moment when Jane pepper-sprayed all of her friends as they tried to surprise her with a birthday cake or when a very high Brad (episode-stealer Damon Wayans Jr., who aside from Chris Pratt is doing some of TV’s best physical comedy) dipped his entire face in chocolate fondue could have won anyone over, but let’s face it, last night’s episode was all about Max’s new love.

Okay, technically it was his old love, a handsome fellow named Grant (played by James Wolk). Not only did Grant bring out a saccharine sweet side of Max we’ve never seen before (thankfully Wolk is on board for a three-episode arc) but the two engaged in one of the loveliest, hype-free television kisses, gay or straight, in recent memory. It feels like we’ve entered a new era of traditional sitcoms, and my heart couldn’t be happier that Happy Endings is leading the pack.

The best lines from “The St. Valentine’s Day Maxssacre”:

— “If the sex is crazy on a regular day, imagine what the VD sex is gonna be like. VD sex!… I get it you’re not bumping me because I said VD” — Dave, using the wrong choice of words for Valentine’s Day lovin’

— “No, we’re not ‘bumping you’ because we’re not Howie Mandel” — Penny to Dave

— “This is the best surprise ever! Although, I could have used a heads-up on this” — Jane, being her gloriously, wonderfully insane self

— “That place is harder to get into than Obvious Joke Here, that new alt-comedy club downtown” — Jane

— “Who doesn’t [love it]? It’s two men playing acoustic guitar at each other” — Max on Extreme’s classic “More Than Words”

— “He said he hates when I say a-mah-zing, but I’ve barely said that at all this season… it’s more of a summer word” — Penny, post-breakup

— “It like Weekend at Bernie Mac‘s back here” — Jane, dealing with a loopy post-dentist Brad

What did you think of last night’s episode of Happy Endings, PopWatchers? What did you fall in love with more, Max’s new beau or his giant pizza? Did it all feel too predictable to you, or did you love how it all played out? Post your feelings (or just give us a high school jock nod) on the episode in the comments section below.

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