This episode began with Alex asking us, “you all know my super-racist parrot, Tyler?” and ended with a song mocking Dave’s Jack Johnson tendencies with an extended, unsubtle joke revolving around the word “come.” Lord, this show is a tall drink of silly. But sometimes, especially after a long phone call to your cable company about a malfunctioning DVR box, that’s exactly what I need—joke after joke after joke. There’s definitely no show more willing to mercilessly mock its characters, and that’s pretty much what happened for 22 minutes in “Fowl Play/Date.”
This episode also showed off the versatility of the Happy Endings cast by centering on two rarely-seen pairings—Jane and Dave, and Brad and Penny—and having much fun with their own unique chemistries. Penny is the dominant partner with Brad as the two fret over killing Alex’s racist bird with glue fumes, slapping him silly multiple times and scheming to make the whole thing look like an accident. Jane and Dave revel in their own ridiculous quirks in trying to set Max up, providing dates that mimic their own ridiculous personality quirks.
Dave and Jane were perhaps being a little too annoying, even for this show (where, to buy in, you pretty much have to accept that the characters are going to grate a little). They’re allowed to be oblivious that their selected mates for Max resemble them, of course, but it was actually less plausible that they didn’t see the flaws in the other’s pick, considering they were at loggerheads over who Max would choose. Jane’s type-A thing is always good for a laugh, but Dave’s simpering style is tougher to take when it’s being done in every scene. I did appreciate the nod to how irritating the gang can be, when you think about it for a second, in the opening scene where a fellow diner tells them all to shut the fuck up in the middle of an extended riff on the word “con.”
What was weirdly successful, though, was using Max as the straight man, a very rare ploy for Happy Endings. With Jane and Dave’s insanity dialed up to 11, Max was allowed to remain a weirdo shut-in moocher grump and still seem like the voice of reason in this episode, especially after his successful date with bartender Marcus is ruined by Jane and Dave’s meddling. I’m glad we didn’t see, only heard, about their later confrontation with Marcus and Dave’s “figure skating twirl” of a punch, because at that point, even I couldn’t stand the sight of the pair of them. And Jane’s re-enactment was funnier than anything Zack Knighton could pull off.
Brad and Penny’s parrot caper was even more ridiculous, but at the same time more plausibly heightened, because they had a murder to cover up. An accidental murder of a real monster (who thought Joseph Goebbels was a more plausible Celebrity Apprentice All-Star than Melissa Rivers) but a murder nonetheless. The show had some fun dropping in the easy solution for Brad and Penny, who keep ignoring what’s right in front of their faces: Alex is dumb, and she’ll buy pretty much whatever line of crap they sell her.
Nonetheless, the guilt is too much and they crack, just as Alex is about to reveal that she holds herself responsible for arguing her parrot into a suicidal state (“I can see how you got there,” Max murmurs). Turns out the actual culprit is massive liver failure from Alex and Tyler’s margarita nights. A nonsensical resolution to an episode that began by introducing us to a racist parrot. What more should I expect?
- Thus begins ABC’s twice a week burnoff of Happy Endings, now airing on both Sunday and Tuesday. Some say it’s good for the show to have so much exposure, but burn-offs are rarely good, and that TBS pickup campaign may start gathering steam real soon.
- The best con jokes: Chaka Khan Con, Miss Saigon Con, Breaking Into Song Con.
- Max has written an “original” screenplay called Heat II: It's Getting Hot Up In Herre.
- Jane is the ultimate matchmaker. “I have brokered three marriages, one against their will, but you know what, Sanjay is going to learn to love Padma, eventually.”
- Max can identify Jane and Dave from his bed. “I smell testosterone. And Dave, you smell like peppers, bud.”
- He signs on to their matchmaking because “I am about to mount an all-dead-fly-from-my-windowsill production of Pippin.”
- Brad and Jane brainstorm. “What would Kerry Washington do in Scandal?” “Demand to see the President and then almost make out with him!”
- Brad can’t dispose of the bird autopsy report. “How do you destroy a PDF? It's in the clouds. I can't control the clouds! I'm not Thor!”
- Max doesn’t need Jane or Dave boyfriends because his pantry is already stocked with them. “And a rat that can chew through aluminum cans that I will kill with my two hands.”