vulture festival 2016

Next Season on Happy Endings: Max Thinks He Has AIDS, Penny Thinks She Wants It

Vulture Festival - Milk Studios
Pally. Photo: Bryan Bedder/2016 Getty Images

In the years since ABC canceled Happy Endings, the sitcom has taken on cult status as one of the most mourned shows in recent memory — this was underlined Sunday by the boisterous, passionate crowd that turned out for Vulture Festival’s cast reunion. Persistent rumors of a renewal or a film have not panned out, but the show’s creator David Caspe took this weekend’s opportunity to fill fans in on where the series was headed before its sudden cancellation in 2013: With Dave and Alex broken up again, a new potential romance was in the works. “Jamie Tarses, one of our executive producers, said, ‘You know [Dave and Alex] are going to have to get married at the end of season five?’” Caspe recalled. “So season four might have been exploring Dave and Penny, because that was something that we were playing around with.”

At the end of season two, Penny went to Dave’s hotel room at a wedding looking for love after an ambiguous conversation, but discovered Alex there after the two reconnected, a moment Caspe described as “heartbreaking for Penny.” Still, he mused, “I don’t know how successful that pairing would’ve been.”

Adam Pally, who played Max, had his own ideas for where his character would be today. “I think Max would somehow have used the way that our country has progressed in the last three or four years, so I believe he would be somewhere in politics,” he said in response to an audience question. Casey Wilson, who played Penny, quickly suggested, “Campaigning for Trump,” leading Pally to say that Max would make a suitable business manager for the Republican candidate.

The other actors added that there were other ideas for a new season floating around. Zachary Knighton, who played Dave, brought up another possibility that had been brainstormed by the cast during their particularly boozy dinner last night — an idea which seems unlikely to hypothetically make it to air, even on a show as absurdist as Happy Endings. “Somebody pitched that Max comes back with AIDS and Penny gets it to lose weight,” Knighton explained, before being corrected by Pally. “Max thinks he has AIDS and Penny thinks he looks good because he’s lost a lot of weight,” he explained. “She has sex with Max and then she gets pregnant and Max has to tell her he doesn’t have AIDS. Then they raise a child together.” Imagine what that child would be like!

The Happy Endings Cast on What Could’ve Been