Television program

A Not So Happy Ending

On May 3rd 2013, ABC took the decision to cancel critically acclaimed comedy Happy Endings,  just three seasons in to its life span. Despite efforts from several networks to revive the show – it remains dead.

Undervalued… Happy Endings has been wrongly terminated.

Gimmick… Alex ran out on her wedding in the show’s pilot episode.

Most people are probably unaware of what Happy Endings is all about. I’m sure many know it as an obscure featureless comedy that currently does the rounds on E4 on Tuesday nights but in reality, it rarely gets its due praise. The show focuses around a group of six thirty-somethings in a big American city – unthinkable, I know. But honestly, it’s not like Friends or How I Met Your Mother in any other respect. There is no laugh track, no producer manufacturing humour and subliminally telling you when you ought to giggle. Unlike other sitcoms, the relationships are already formed and the series kicks off with Alex running out on her wedding to boyfriend, Dave. Despite this, the group tries to keep together instead of splitting as two of its members break up. Typically, the characters explore all sorts of quirky ‘sitcomy’ scenarios with various combinations of the six main characters but unlike most sitcoms, that if we’re honest are watchable at best, Happy Endings is legitimately funny. The characters are all likeable, the stories engaging and the jokes all encompassing that you feel like they’re your’s and your friend’s very own private jokes.

Hilarious… (L-R) Penny, Brad and Jane are the stand-out characters.

You’re probably thinking if it was as good as I’m saying it is then it would still be in production and I suppose that may be true. Throughout its tenure, the series received resounding critical acclaim being called “one of the sharpest and warm-hearted comedies on the air” and “the most underrated, under-watched series on TV, that may also be the funniest”.  Initially, the show drew decent ratings stateside often exceeding seven million viewers during its first and second seasons. Then, Happy Endings became the unfortunate victim of schedule congestion and was moved to Friday nights, colloquially known as the ‘Friday night death slot’ among American TV buffs. The ratings plummeted as low as 1.73 million viewers by the series’ penultimate episode resulting in its cancellation. The hardcore cult following it had amassed was nearly enough to grant it a resurrection on a different network but alas, it failed to materialise.

Fortunately for you, the internet exists. I strongly recommend this TV show, which is a slow starter so give it four or five episodes before making a judgement. The characters from neurotic Jane and her quirky husband, Brad to naiive Penny and Alex, righteous Dave and stereotype busting slob, Max, offer something for everyone – especially Eliza Coupe, Casey Wilson and Damon Wayans Jr. who are masterful in their roles. Who knows? Maybe it will emulate Arrested Development and get a deserved redemption a few years down the line and we can see whether Brad, Jane, Alex, Max, Penny and Dave did get their happy endings.

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My favourite things

This blog is completely pointless and narcissistic but I feel like I moan a lot in my posts so I thought I’d share the things I really like and give them a bit of praise.

TV Programmes

“Shut up, I win”… Modern Family is my all-time favourite TV programme

1. Modern Family
Okay, maybe I’ve praised this show enough but then again, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of gloating about just how good this programme is. Its brilliantly observed  social commentaries, combined with impeccable writing of various types of humour make it a refreshing change from the average US sitcom. It’s already a classic and easily my all-time favourite TV programme.

2. Friends
Given the fact, I’ve spent my entire life watching re-runs of this show on E4 and now Comedy Central, it would be unfair not to have this among my favourites. Unlike Modern Family, it is a typical US sitcom, it’s just a lot funnier than the others.

3. How I Met Your Mother
Funnily enough, I was sceptical of HIMYM when I first heard of it. I assumed it would be a less-funny ode to Friends. And in all honesty, Friends is funnier but HIMYM’s interesting spin on the plot of an average US sitcom and it’s brilliant gimmicks make it stand out from the rest.

4. Desperate Housewives
I don’t even know why I liked this programme so much. It’s just so interesting, a perfect blend of drama and comedy that’s oddly relatable to every day life. At times, it is completely over-the-top and unrealistic but that can be forgiven when you consider it at its best. If you only watch one season of this show, make sure it’s season one.

Films

The force is with Star Wars… my all-time favourite films

1. Star Wars saga
Being honest, I’m not a big film person. Obviously, there are loads of films that I like but few that really stand out. Other than White Chicks and the Lion King, I struggled to think of anything that could compete with this, so it stands alone. Regrettably, I haven’t seen many of cinema’s modern classics (something I intend on correcting every summer but never do). Anyway, Star Wars is the ultimate sci-fi saga. I spent a lot of my childhood being obsessed with this franchise, meaning I have something like 20 lightsabers stored underneath my bed. It really is a great film, and yes the original trilogy is far better. It still shocks me that some people have never seen these films… and I hate them for it.

Albums

“‘Cause this is Thriller. Thriller night!”

1. Thriller
This is simply put the best album ever made. Featuring so many of MJ’s classsics including Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, The Girl is Mine and Human Nature, you can see why it’s the biggest selling album of all-time and my favourite.

2. Aim & Ignite
Okay, Fun. burst on to the chart scene in Spring 2012, with their hit “We Are Young” taken from their second studio album, Some Nights. While, that album is superb and only just misses out on a spot in the top 5, Fun.’s lesser known predecessor is even better. It’s melodic from start to finish with brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics that really make you think. It’s a shame they didn’t get much recognition for this album too.

3. Fearless
I don’t really care about the stigma attached to picking a Taylor Swift album as one of your favourites. I have a quiet love for country music and she has a well-known talent for song writing. In all honesty, I could have selected either Speak Now or Red to join the top five too but this album is just about her best.

4. Songs About Jane
When you were young, every family had that one album that you played in the car non-stop, every journey. This was ours. It really is brilliant.

5. Rumours
Again, a worldwide recognised classic. My love for this album probably again stems back to my quiet love for country and guitar music. It features many of the bands classics and is hard not to like. Although, funnily enough when I first heard this album, I hated it.

It’s worth noting, these are also my five favourite artists. Honourable mention to S Club 7 for providing the soundtrack of my childhood and yes, I still have a cheeky  S Club party every now and then.

Holiday destinations

Bude-iful… My favourite holiday destination

1. Bude
Ideally, an average looking seaside town in Cornwall is not the place you want to go on holiday. It’s mostly for personal reasons that I’ve picked this as number-one. Nearly everyone has a holiday destination their family goes to often. Bude is that for my family.

2. Los Angeles
Most people say LA isn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. But it really is, the climate, the people and the sights are all incredible. It’s a place you simply have to visit.

3. San Francisco
San Fran is a great city of diversity, it has such a varied nature to it, there are rural areas, coastal areas, Skegness-esque areas and big city areas. Accompanied by the climate which is great too, it’s a must visit. In fact, if it weren’t for the USA’s gun crime problem, the San Andreas fault and its proximity to Yellowstone, I’d move to California in a heartbeat.

4. Canary Islands
Particularly Gran Canaria and Tenerife, these islands are wonderful, just off the coast of Africa, it is always hot and just a great place to be.