Happy Endings: “Everybody Loves Grant”
B+

Happy Endings: “Everybody Loves Grant”

B+

Happy Endings

“Everybody Loves Grant”

Season 2, Episode 14

Obviously, these Happy Endings episodes are written and filmed well in advance of airing, but didn’t this episode seem eerily accurate about everyone’s reaction to Grant (James Wolk)? The aptly-named “Everybody Loves Grant” featured everyone in the gang falling for Grant in one way or another, from Jane taking off his clothes to Brad mimicking his tie/vest combos, to Penny sculpting her new boyfriend, Sean, into a mirror image of him. This show has had funnier half-hours, but I liked a lot of what was going on in “Everybody Loves Grant,” especially its gentle mockery of its picture-perfect casting of Wolk, who works equally well as a man’s man, a ladies’ man, and a man about town.

In casting Wolk, the show presented itself with a problem: What’s so interesting about a very charming, handsome nice man that Max is dating? As cute and well-dressed as he is, he’s also a total boyfriend cipher, and there’s only so much of Max’s wackiness you can play off of him. So, even though Grant was in a lot of scenes this week, it was mostly everyone in the gang reacting to him, getting him to do things for them, and competing over who got to be couple friends with him (particularly Brad/Jane or Penny/Sean).

Things actually got grating around the halfway point, since there wasn’t a dominant plot to the episode aside from Brad/Jane and Penny’s bickering, which felt old hat. Being super-competitive and obsessive is integral to each of their characters, but all of them doing that at once can be a tad irritating. Sure, there were some great moments—Brad calling Grant “Grantastic Voyage,” Jane impulse-buying batteries—but a little too much complainin’, and the joke of Penny pushing Sean on the gang while ignoring everything about him wore a little old.

I much preferred Alex and Dave this week, which is a rarity for the show. I’ve said for the past few weeks that the show has found the right groove for Alex, and she’s still in it—ditzy, endearingly dumb, but convivial, and wise often enough to make her seem useful. Although she was as charmed by Grant, he didn’t bewitch her in quite the same way, so her job was mostly stopping Max from breaking up with him preemptively (or “redemptively”) out of fear. She also revealed a love for putting whole chickens in the garbage disposal. “I can’t help it. I love the sound of bones crunching. I’m like a god; I can destroy life.”

Dave is someone the show is still struggling with. He’s okay as the butt of jokes, but nothing much as a romantic protagonist, so anytime things get remotely serious with him, it doesn’t really work. His plot here felt like a knowing wink to those problems, although who knows, I may be reading too much into it. But after being dubbed Ross in last week’s episode, this time he decided he was the “cool guy” in their sitcom scenario. With Max the lazy guy, Jane the type-A, Penny the single one, Brad the married one, “and Alex is the one with the store!”

Things went down a familiar path as Dave tried to prove how cool he was, and his indoor scarf-wearing wasn’t too far from him getting in touch with his Native American roots earlier in the season. But I liked the final reversal where Grant revealed that he’d been struggling to have everyone like him and was finding Dave the toughest nut to crack. Dave got to have his cake, but he didn’t really get to eat it, because it’s not like anyone else considers him cool. There’s still work to be done, but Zachary Knighton got a few solid laughs out of me this week.

So, now that Grant is proven as flawed, I hope we get a few more episodes of him and he’s not just dumped like so many three-episode romantic guest star arcs on half-hour comedies. Wolk is more than a pretty face, so here’s hoping he gets to develop further as we enter season two’s home stretch.

Stray observations:

  • Brad and Jane have trouble finding couple friends. “All the couples are either boring or want to do sex with us.”
  • The final twist with Sean also wanting to go for a “menage a four” with Brad and Jane wasn’t shocking, but was pretty funny.
  • “Carusoing wasn’t even cool when you did it six years ago.”
  • Penny has a good reaction to Dave, shirtless, fixing her door. “Unexpected Dave!”
  • “I was crouching, and you know how heat lowers, and the whole thermal inversion thing.”
  • “You’re smarter than you are tall. Good day, tiny madam!”
  • Max isn’t great at setting up a breakup conversation. “Speaking of tables, how do you ever know if you’re with the right person?”