Title: Happy Endings
Fix: Early '10s Hangout Sitcom
Platform: Amazon Prime
When Alex and her fiancé, Dave, split, it's not property they're fighting over, but who gets to keep their friends. Take a look into the lives of six thirty-somethings in Chicago as they adjust to the break-up.
The premise might seem like a tough sell (and reminiscent of the Friends pilot with leaving someone at the-altar, along with the six friends bit), but it's one of the rare attempts of friend group comedies that managed to set itself apart in a saturated niche.
Basically, this is my most favourite thing that everyone in the cast has been in, thanks to their phenomenal chemistry.
Eliza Coupe as Jane
Highly competent, highly confident, and highly competitive, Jane is unmistakenly a Type-A control freak.
Elisha Cuthbert as Alex
Once Alex becomes less of a runaway bride, she also becomes way more fun (and very stereotypically dumb blonde).
Zachary Knighton as Dave
This V-neck enthusiast might be proof that all TV shows with characters named David Rose are great?
Adam Pally as Max
Unmotivated slacker Max is the embodiment of "What if a dude, but gay?" Which seemed practically revolutionary back when Hollywood could barely figure out how to depict gay men without veering into full caricature, but I'd be curious to read some #ownvoices perspectives about gay representation on this show.
Damon Wayans, Jr. as Brad
Brad's a total dork in the best possible way. He and Jane are one of those married couples who are super into each other, oftentimes to the chagrin of their friends who are constantly subjected to PDA and TMI.
Casey Wilson as Penny
It's hard to say which Penny struggles with more: finding a boyfriend, or trying to make 'AH-MAH-ZING' catch on. (It's her 'fetch'.)
Familiar faces drop by all the time as guest stars, too: Megan Mullally, Gina Rodriguez, Derek Waters, BSC treasurer Stacey McGill, and FYA boyfriends like Kostas and Deputy Leo.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Friends Welcome
Sitcoms are evidently my go-to binge, and anything that provides the LULZ is easy enough for newbies to drop in (and maybe get converted).
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Optional
Alcohol might be helpful through a few rough patches early on, and also to cope with possible weirdness of having first watched this almost a decade ago but now being the age that non-grownup adults on TV usually are. (Like, seriously. I'm like Season 5 of Friends age.) But the Happy Endings crew is constantly drinking, so do as the locals do in Chicago-but-really-a-soundstage-in-L.A.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Excellent
Sometimes you're not really in the mood to branch out, you know? So then you start rewatching an old fave because you don't want to exert the brain power on consuming something brand new. But then it's been so long and it's so good that you end up bingeing the shizz out of it anyway. (Although, once again, my kingdom for the option to watch a short-lived sitcom in production order when it clearly aired nonsencially.)
This is very much a product of its time, though. There are some dated references, like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner being OTP; having to clarify who Alexander Hamilton is in the pre-Hamilton era; same-sex marriage not yet being legalized in the U.S.; and describing the concept of ghosting before the term came into existence.
Unfortunately, there are a few problematic elements, too. The word 'slut' gets thrown around a lot (which I hadn't noticed back when I was apparently oblivious to slut-shaming). It shares yet another Friends trait, albeit an unsavoury one, of fragile masculinity when straight men enjoy things that aren't stereotypically masculine. It also walks a really fine line with a few race jokes; there's acknowledgement that something is deliberately bad, but it does it anyway. (There are multiple instances of both 'Asian voice' and a white guy trying to use the n-word affectionately. At least the latter are only attempts that get shot down, but the Asian voice definitely happens.)
... did I mention that I love this show? Because I do, despite all these things I'm now viewing through a more woke lens. But at least now I'm aware of these issues instead of not noticing at all, and I can still appreciate the show for what it is without being ignorant of its flaws.