They’ve really dropped that premise like a ton of bricks, haven’t they? Happy Endings is only three episodes in and not one mention is made of the inciting incident, i.e. Alex leaving Dave at the altar. I definitely don’t mind losing what seemed from the get-go to be an inessential hook; after all, it would be a shame for a funny, endearing show to never get its due because it didn’t have a snappy tagline. That being said, it does worry me that the writers would so quickly neglect what was introduced as a pivotal storyline. Keeping the characters’ reactions real will help establish authentic relationships and a history the show can draw from in the future. So, yeah, realistically the gang would probably still be gossiping about the wedding disaster.
Or if the producers can change just the name to the Max and Penny Show; that’s fine by me. It basically is, anyway. They can call it Penny For Your Thoughts, or Max(imum) Fun. I’ll keep a list. Anyway, it turns out that Max has been using Penny as his beard to keep his parents in the dark about his true sexuality since college. When Penny has a date the night they are visiting, Max scrambles through the rest of his female friends to find an appropriate cover. Luckily Jane eventually volunteers for the spot. Throughout, the writers do a good job mitigating the tension between the gang’s clear desire to shove Max out of the closet, and the reality that it’s a friends job to support, not force, an important life moment.
As a side note, more Damon Wayans Jr! He was only in the show but for a moment this week, and his unfounded jealousy about Jane faux-kissing Max grounded his wife’s determination to be the Best Damn Beard Ever, as did their discussion about the six months it took to tell her parents Brad was African-American. It’s also uncanny how his mannerisms are so insanely similar to his father’s. Seriously, every facial expression! After Jane amps up the smooches at dinner, Max’s parents are more than a little turned off her “borderline anti-Semitic” use of Yiddish, as well as “the bizarre amount of time she French Kissed you.” Since Jane is essentially the Monica of the group, you better believe she will not settle for failure.
Meanwhile Penny stumbles onto a better blind date then she had planned when she meets a random cute guy while waiting at the bar. The image of her actual nerdlinger date wandering for hours calling her name was tragic/in need of a third beat to bring the joke home. Since Penny has found a seemingly normal, attractive man who is into her particular brand of flirting (“When I get nervous I turn into Blanche from The Golden Girls,” she blurts), clearly something must be heinously wrong with him, so of course his last name is spelled and pronounced Hitler. “Don’t let him get in your Panzer,” Alex chirps. While this isn’t exactly the most ground-breaking partner flaw to every appear in a sitcom, I applaud any show that can find a personality quirk that hasn’t been mined by Sex And The City, Seinfeld or a combination of the two. Fortunately, Wilson has the charm and delivery to keep it all feeling fresh. As to be expected, things go to hell pretty quickly after that. Dough Hitler spies Penny’s notebook doodles (“Mrs. and Mrs. Doug Hitler”) and assumes she’s a Nazi fetishist dating him for the prestige of the name. Ah, dating in the 21st century!
Max eventually comes out to his parents after drawing the entire gang into an incredibly convoluted web of lies and trickery. Apparently the fact that Max is prone to yelling “I love lady parts,” while clumsily honking his date’s breasts like bike horns never clued them in? The best part of the entire episode came at the very end, when we get to see Max as Jane’s racial beard on a disastrous country club interview. He describes the joys of boating as including but not being limited to: the wind in your chest hair, spending time with your intellectually inferior wife, and hearing the seagulls conversing in their native bird tongue (Caw! Cawl you, girl!”). Over all, it was a solid episode, but as I mentioned, the writers really have to foster those original story lines if they want the audience to become invested in the characters’ lives. Other than Max and Penny, that is. They’re pretty much set.