The gang is back and going into anaphylactic shock in the premiere of Happy Ending’s second season last night. The episode starts with an errant oyster knife flying out of Max’s hand, stabbing Brad in the leg, spraying a highly allergic Jane with lobster fluids and forcing Dave to admit that he had lied to Alex about his shellfish allergy while they were dating. Oh yeah…remember the hook? That ruined wedding seems like it happened one million years ago already, which is a very good sign. The episode’s first 2 minutes were such an absurd delight, I barely stopped to wonder why anyone would have a towering platter of shellfish balanced precariously on a hotel bed inches from two people for whom it would be potentially lethal. Which is sort of the whole point of a sitcom, when you get down to it.
Just like last season, Damon Wayans Jr. is killing it as Brad, whether he is sneaking around with his black friends behind Max’s friend-jealous back or merrily dancing in Penny’s new apartment. “Now a brother can’t twirl,” he grumbles when he realizes the rest of the group is watching him frolic. New Girl weeps.
Elisha Cuthbert’s Alex is slowly revealing herself to be the Phoebe of the group, which, great. What group couldn’t benefit from a Phoebe. The thing is, Alex clearly isn’t a total moron; she’s merely a ditz, and I think is an important distinction needs to be made between the two. Alex is stable enough to run a store, but clueless enough to feed her new pet snake Peeps and almost set her apartment ablaze. The ditz is an unusually a hard role to sell: how do you portray a character that’s sort of dumb, but not really dumb, and is perhaps not aware of how sort of dumb she might be? Not everyone is a Lisa Kudrow or a Betty White, is all I’m saying.
In order to recoup some semblance of a friendship, Alex and Dave open up about the little things about each other they truly hate: Dave’s boner-killing running socks, Alex’s putrid jambalaya, etc. Penny moves into a beautiful new condo, which she immediately suspects is haunted by the ghosts of all the spinsters who lived there before. Adorable cats keep showing up. The DVR fills with lonely lady shows like The View and The Good Wife. A coupon for a personal pan pizza slides under her door, which should now be a widespread stereotype about unmarried women: they fucking love little tiny pizzas just for themselves. “I need a house coat and a hot tea with lemon. Should I get an AOL email address?,” Penny screams in a panic. “What’s happening to me?” Meanwhile, Max becomes enraged when Brad makes excuses to hang out alone with his black friends, instead of joining Max for a marathon of classic black and white movies: Lethal Weapon, Trading Places, Beverley Hills Cop. He accidentally meets Brad’s Black Max, who in turns knows Max as White Darryl. Max retaliates against no one by befriending a group of flapper-loving gay men out of spite, including a guy named Steve that they call Gay Brad. “No, we don’t, and my name is Ken,” Gay Brad explains.
Now, I don’t mean to reduce the value of what is some seriously superior writing (“On a scale of fur to scales, I prefer scales,” Alex explains about her new snake friend. Excellent), but the best part of this show was and continues to be the chemistry of the cast. They seem like actual human friends! Actual delightful friends with charming character traits, zippy plot lines and punchy dialogue. Better than anyone’s real friends, is what I’m saying, though 100% more likely to accidentally knife you in the thigh or make you eat hot seafood garbage soup. It’s a trade-off, really.