Even more so than “Baby Steps,” “Secrets and Limos” was a Happy Endings episode that you could show to someone who had never seen the show to get them into it. Not to say that this show is for everyone, but this was a pretty perfect showcase for everything Happy Endings has going for it: rapid-fire dialogue, the surprisingly dorky comic timing of Damon Wayans Jr., Elisha Cuthbert and Zack Knighton’s characters quickly devolving into a succession of bimbo gags, and just joke after joke after joke after joke. I guess it’s exhausting (it’s certainly a pain in the ass to take notes on live), but it’s running at exactly my speed.
“Secrets and Limos” was the first episode written by Hilary Winston, former Community writer extraordinaire who has joined the staff this season (as has the very funny UCB comedian Jackie Clarke). Even though some of its core concepts felt weak on paper, like making fun of vision boards or the ridiculousness of Larry Wilmore’s character who has food all over his face, Winston found fun ways to go with them. I especially liked the vision board thing, where Jane, desperate to prove her silly concept right, assumes the role of “the universe” and tries to make everything happen for Penny that she’s dreamed of. It’d work as a subplot for any character, but with Jane, you actually believe that she wants to meet the challenge of being the universe as best she can, even if it means a little stress eczema.
Larry Wilmore, a very funny man indeed, sadly didn’t get enough to do here as Brad’s boss (I hope he comes back), and the food-on-face gag had quickly diminishing returns. But involving Max and his limo (third week in a row, and I’m still not tired of it!) worked out quite well, although Brad and Max fighting over Max’s silly blabbermouth nature was a little bit of a retread of the season opener. Plus, Max didn’t get to do enough of his Driving Miss Daisy impression. I realize this is a TV show trying to tell stories, and you have to have plots and stuff, not just a collection of jokes. But I was laughing hardest at bits like Brad reusing Max’s “women be stopping!” line, or Max using the slogans of Bravo, USA, and TBS (watch what happens, characters welcome, very funny) to describe himself before he segues into the Tab jingle.
Dave’s subplot seemed the weakest, and even though I generally approve of shifting narrative burden away from Alex, her cartoonishness this week was bothering me a little as she was both very airheady and very pathetic for the first half of the episode, ordering way too much takeout at a fancy restaurant and angrily bursting in on Jane and Penny at their apartment complaining that “some of us are taking naps!” Cuthbert is getting better and better at selling the punchlines (her “maybe you should FORCE yourself on a woman!” got a big laugh from me), but her character feels a lot less original than what the show is doing with the archetypes they started out with in Brad, Penny, Max, and Jane.
But I liked her interaction with Dave at the end of the episode, where she’s the only one that realizes immediately that his new girlfriend isn’t really a keeper, so there’s no point focusing on all her horrifying character flaws (they really cram as many as possible into a very brief appearance). It felt like something an ex-girlfriend would have a better bead on, and it touched on Dave and Alex’s chemistry without being too gross about it or hinting at love in their future. It’s tough for any show to depict a convincing post-breakup relationship, but this did it for me. Not gooey, not lame, not heavy; although Alex warned that if Dave ever gets serious with someone, she’ll turn into a total bitch. But that could be fun to explore, too!
Anyway, if you like this show and think your friends should like it too, show them this episode! And if they think it sucks, then there’s no hope, I’m afraid. Oh well, fun for the rest of us. Phylicia Rashad!
- “There's no way Edward James Olmos likes to be called Eddie Jimmy.”
- “That waitress looks like she wants a piece of your downstairs goatee.”
- Dave tries to explain the mortgage crisis: “They took loans, and they repackaged them, subprime. It's a numbers game…”
- Penny is visualizing a romantic old-fashioned gentleman who will look at her during sex. Max wants that too. “Except the looking at me during sex part is not realistic.”
- Apparently Max and Dave have (or will soon have) a dog called Mr. Bojangley.
- “Wouldn't want any more bags going into your wealthy hands, Mr. Brad!”
- Dave’s new girlfriend Molly has great boobs. “Well, I saved up for a long time, and my dad is rich!”
- “You're not an idiot.” “No, I am. I once ate a winning lottery ticket.”