Die-hard fans of television comedy are going through a rough time right now. “30 Rock” and “The Office” are coming to an end, and neither of those shows are as good as they once were. “Community” is on indefinite hiatus, most of the sitcoms on CBS stink, and while many love “Modern Family,” it really hasn’t lived up to its full potential.
But things took a turn for the better last week, as the ABC comedy “Happy Endings” returned for a third season. By all accounts, this could be a truly great year for this show.
“Happy Endings” doesn’t have much of a premise, and is often compared to “Friends.” Ultimately, it’s just about a bunch of friends in Chicago who hang out and get into all sorts of mischief. It got off to a perfectly fine start in its brief first season, but there was so little buzz around the show that it seemed destined to be cast aside. Luckily for television fans, ABC did “Happy Endings” a kindness and brought it back for a second season.
Last year was a breakout year for the show. Its numbers were up, though nothing revelatory, and in its best episodes, it reached some incredible comedic highs. Really, it’s done exactly what all comedies should do: use the first handful of episodes to introduce the characters, and then start figuring out what to do with each of them to maximize their potential.
Created by David Caspe, “Happy Endings” has even taken some not particularly funny actors and used them to hilarious ends. Elisha Cuthbert, previously known as Jack Bauer’s daughter on “24,” became one of the show’s secret weapons in the second season.
There are some veteran comedic actors on the show as well, and it’s better for their presence. Adam Pally, Casey Wilson and Damon Wayans Jr. have all been funny in other things, and they help to make this ensemble one of the deepest in network comedy. When it premiered two seasons ago, the cast was full of weak links. By the time the second season ended, everyone was pulling their fair share of the weight.
There are certainly more ambitious comedies on television, but when “Happy Endings” is at its best there might be no other show that comes close to duplicating its laugh-a-minute style. Not a line of dialogue goes by without some kind of attempt at humor. Of course it doesn’t always click, but going into its third season “Happy Endings” has a ridiculously high batting average.
“Happy Endings” airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC.