Things have been so 100 percent intense on Happy Endings, what with Alex and Dave moving in, Jane getting a new job, Real World flashbacks and all that jazz. Now, 100 percent intense on Happy Endings is about five percent intense anywhere else—this is still one of the breeziest, silliest shows on television and all the better for it. Nonetheless, “P & P Romance Factory,” which was pretty much all fluff, was a real achievement in dumb fun. The biggest conflict in the episode was a fist-bump war between Max and a dude named Brody (Jon Daly) who turns his fists into a turkey with his open palm.
Seriously, that illustrates what’s just so great about this show. Max gets mad at Brody for violating the compact of the fist-bump with his turkey stunt, recalling a fifth grade incident where he was felled by the old “down low, too slow.” Dave bursts into tears and drowns his sorrows in sangria, telling Max and Alex that he invented that move (at no point do they ever believe him). Then they confront Brody, and when he’s still a douche, Alex attacks him. That’s it. The Seinfeld writing staff would have rejected that story pitch for being too pointless. The characters are constantly acknowledging how pointless it is. Yet it’s still a rollicking good time.
Another thing I liked about this episode: It let Alex be the dumb sidekick in two plots. Alex has been annoyingly tied up in Dave drama for much of this young season, and while she can be just as weird and funny with him, it’s nice to have her bouncing around in the background of most scenes, even if she’s just putting on a bike helmet and hitting her head against the wall. Elisha Cuthbert must be deployed carefully, and she has to be in a particularly broad humor quadrant, but if you spread her evenly throughout an episode, it’s… uh… delicious. I guess delicious is the metaphor I’m going for here.
So Alex also helps Penny, who is forced to wear a helmet to protect her concussed skull because Penny always has to be in some wacky situation, right? She meets a cute boy, and rather than explain the helmet, tries to contrive ridiculous date after date for them to go on that involves protective headgear. This is mostly an excuse for Casey Wilson to do a lot of physical comedy, which is something she is really very good at. It’s one thing to get one’s feet caught in a bunch of furniture and stumble around, but it’s another to do that while on a Segway. Even better was her shriek of fear when her unprotected head brushed against a lampshade. Casey Wilson’s good at just about everything, but more of this, please! Also, her man seemed very nice and all. I assume he’ll be back for a nice little arc?
The main plotline this week, I suppose, was Jane and Brad getting into her new work social life by Jane becoming one of the boys and Brad turning into a trophy wife she bitches about. This was about as broad and cartoony as you could get, but Damon Wayans Jr. was built for these sorts of hissy-fit histrionics, and every time he had a deafening, squealing piglet in his hands, I just couldn’t contain myself. Rob Corddry is unfortunately playing the same kind of douchebag he always plays on network TV, but at least some of his below-the-belt shots were actually pretty below-the-belt (there were some raunchy jokes this week, and ones you had to think about for a second before the raunch really revealed itself).
I’m fine with Happy Endings getting a little deeper and doing the kind of material it’s been doing this season. But I’m also pretty fine with ridiculous episodes like this one. There are not a whole lot of TV shows on the air right now that can pull off something this broad, but I’m happy to have this one plugging away.
- Jane’s Jack Nicholson impression consists of her pressing her hand against her forehead and growling “LAKERS.”
- Penny can turn any flirting into horrific anatomical discussions. “Quaint. Isn’t that the space between a gal’s goal and her penalty box?”
- Corddry really sells lines like “Is there a 10-inch whore here? Cause that was a low blow!”
- Dave insists he invented “down low, too slow.” “The rhyme spilled from my lips like poison!”
- Penny tells Alex her helmet has helped her fall for her new man. “This helmet wasn’t just protecting my head. It was also protecting my heart.” “Is that a quote from Iron Man 2?”