Sometimes all I’m looking for from an episode of Happy Endings is what we just got—a slight, but enjoyable half-hour with two silly plots that play out satisfyingly. The show is capable of more complicated material, like dovetailing plots, flashbacks upon flashbacks, and bigger character arcs, but the core strength of the show is the high joke-per-minute count, and “You Snooze, You Bruise” wrung a lot of laughs out of me tonight.
In one corner, we had Dave confronting Corey, a big fat gay bully at the gym played by Bobby Moynihan, while Alex gave him bullying advice (speaking from her history as a former bully, one of the episode’s most delightful concepts), while Max, to his surprise, started falling in love with Cory’s raw masculinity. We also had the return of Derek, the obnoxious (but well-meaning) walking gay stereotype that Penny employed a couple of times in season one. It was nice to see Stephen Guarino having fun in that role again.
In the other corner was Jane becoming a little too relaxed after Penny tells her to dial down the homeowner’s association president tyranny. Much like the bully at the gym, this was a very simple storyline that the show took into fun directions, particularly the unexpected blowback on Brad, who is basically not allowed to perform any household duties himself.
Damon Wayans, Jr., really proved what an MVP for the show he is in this episode. His initial glee at Jane’s laid-backness was typical Brad (I particularly enjoyed the nacho-eating), but the horror that followed, like him not getting a haircut for days, was even better. “I look like Gene Wilder!” he whined. “I’m a monster!” Since Jane was intentionally a low-energy presence for much of the episode, lounging on the couch in elastic pants that were inexplicably long in the crotch, Wayans had to dial his energy up even higher than usual. That could have been annoying—it wasn’t.
Props to Coupe, too, though—it was fun to watch her crack and become her old self, but languid Jane had some great lines, like the casual mention of “buzzing one out” (which Brad, sweetly, thinks refers to snoring). An election in the homeowner’s association is well-worn territory, especially for a show with a type-A character like Jane, so I was glad to see that whole plot get swept aside quickly (her competitor is begging her to take the job uncontested by the end of the episode).
The Dave storyline was a little more problematic, because this show is still having trouble with Dave being funny. The joke here seemed to be that Dave was unnecessarily florid and high-minded in confronting the bully—Moynihan punching him in the face after Dave patronizingly tries to access the hurt, gay 10-year-old inside of him seemed entirely justified in my mind.
Zachary Knighton isn’t bad at making Dave look like an idiot, but he’s still not too funny. I don’t know if it’s the performer or just how the role is being written, but given the transformation we’ve seen with Alex this year, there’s gotta be more room for improvement.
Alex, Max, and Derek kept the gym plotline afloat, piping in with silly dialogue from the sidelines very frequently. Max’s infatuation with Corey was cute; Alex’s struggle to suppress her inner bully didn’t get enough screentime, but it worked; and Derek’s big hero moment was a good, if predictable twist. Since I actually felt a twinge of sympathy when Corey kicked the medicine ball out from under Derek (and this is for a meta-character who’s a commentary on lame “gay best friend” roles), it made sense that Derek would land the knockout blow.
Happy Endings still ain’t perfect, but an episode like this shows you how good it is at just humming along. It’s been a strong run to close out the season—I believe we have two episodes to go before we start worrying about a season three pickup.
- “With the HOA, it just makes more sense to give someone complete power to suppress opposition and criticism.” “I think you just said the definition of fascism.”
- Max explains his crush on Corey: “I love bad boys, like Will Smith in the movie Bad Boys, or even Martin Lawrence in Big Momma’s House.” Brad chimes in: “Or Tea Leoni in Bad Boys!”
- “What if Corey sees you and yells at you, and it’s too sexy, and he and I fall in love?”
- Dave suggests he and Corey go “mano-y-mano. Comprende? Verdad?”
- Penny is skeptical of Dave’s fighting prowess. “The same Dave who wept during Jeremy Renner’s Oscar speech?”
- Max suggests Dave watch the gay History Channel, also known as Bravo.