Man, Happy Endings has officially settled into a very nice groove for its third season. You don’t get an episode this busy and this nonsensical without the writers assuming a serious comfort level from their audience for wacky antics and constant meta jokes, and they’re right to assume. When Max opens the episode as a bar mitzvah hype man, we don’t even really need the dialogue from the rest of the gang about how good he is at finding implausible jobs (although it leads to a couple good examples, like “salad bar-back” and “funeral seat filler”). I’m just happy to ride along with whatever ridiculous plotlines the show has cooked up week after week.
Of course, I’ve also been praising Happy Endings this year for trying to invest a little more in its character arcs, and while “Boyz II Menorah” had a Dave/Alex plot that saw them evaluating their quickly-stagnant relationship, the episode was 99 percent oddball silliness and all the better for it. I mean, this show is still Happy Endings. It doesn’t need to be all smart and forward-thinking every week, as long as it’s firing on all cylinders like it was tonight.
A big reason for that was that the Alex/Dave plot really clicked. Even though I’m getting sick of their couple dilemmas week after week, this one really embraced the ridiculousness and gave Alex a dump truck load of ridiculous, hilarious lines, like her retort to Dave’s horror at her travel bag filled with “a terrifying amount of condoms.” “They’re for your penis,” she replies breathily, and I damn near did a spit take. Even better than her weak attempts at a flirty house-painting party that exposes them both to toxic fumes and ends up with paint in Dave’s eye. “Let’s open a window,” he cautions. “You should open your pants window.”
The idea is that Alex fears the same stagnation that doomed the relationship the first time around. It’s the same idea we’ve seen in every episode of season three so far, but this was easily the best execution of it, and it ended with a fun, winking spoof of airport-set finales to romantic comedies. I especially liked the parking attendant’s disinterest in “keeping” Dave’s steak truck when he parks it illegally, even after Dave flicks the keys at him. Jane got the best line of that scene, though, when two security guards try to taze her: “You fools, that only makes me stronger!”
Jane is busy with Alex and Dave, but meanwhile, the show continues to have fun with Brad and Max together, which it seems to have realized is just the best pairing ever. Especially when you mix it with bar mitzvah disco dancing, since both Damon Wayans Jr. and Adam Pally are fine comedic dancers. Penny gets a little lost in the shuffle this week, having to bat away horny young Jewish men while failing to attract the attention of any sexy rabbis, but otherwise, this was the perfect dumb Max plot. The stakes were meaningless, and the conflict was perhaps a little forced and dismissed very quickly, but it was never dull to watch and featured probably the best Dikembe Mutombo reference I’ve ever seen on television.
So, on the one hand, I hope Happy Endings continues to pair Brad and Max in increasingly ridiculous situations. On the other hand, Alex and Dave are in definite need of a shake-up. It is no fault of their own. I’m just getting sick of their boring relationship, even if they’re flicking paint in each other’s eyes. But in general, I couldn’t be happier with where the show is at this season. It’s far outside of its Modern Family lead-in comfort zone, but if this material doesn’t help retain its viewers, then America really is doomed as a nation.
- Max isn’t good at introducing the bar mitzvah boys. “He entered a boy and leaves a… entered a boy doesn’t sound great. He came in a… let’s just welcome to the stage Mr. Benjamin Feldman!”
- Penny is attracted to Jews. “They’re so cool, with their leather jackets and their jeans and their ability to turn on jukeboxes by punching them. Okay, I’m just describing the Fonz.”
- Alex wants to keep kosher, but only if she can stay in touch with her “pig friends.”
- Alex and Dave are enjoying a date night—that is, eating some delicious dates. “Well, gotta go dump out.”
- Brad loves dancing with Max. “It was like a scene out of Magic Mike. Not that I would know.” “Ooh, I just had a great idea,” Penny interjects. “Buy Magic Mike on Blu-Ray?”
- No, she says, they should team up. “You’ll be the hottest mixed-raced dance crew since Paula Abdul and MC Scatcat. He was Persian!”
- Dave is wearing old-lady sunglasses after the paint incident. “Did the doctor make you wear those?” “Oh, yeah. Doctor Style.”
- Max is a professional, since he “took an online class in bar mitzvah hype, that I created, and paid for with Dave’s credit card.” “Didn’t you fail that class?” “Those exams are racially biased!”