Happy Endings and Don’t Trust The B—- in Apartment 23 are funny, weird, quirky shows, so obviously, NBC and ABC had to cancel them. Haven’t seen these shows? Trust me, someone is going to make you watch them all on Netflix some day, and you’re going to be as upset about these cancellations as you are about the untimely death of Better Off Ted.
Happy Endings is the story of six friends living in Chicago, doing stuff like eating floor bacon and trying to win kickball competitions. In three seasons, the comedy has grown into a quick-witted and bizarre half-hour. Although there are romantic storylines, they never end up as saccharine as those on How I Met Your Mother, and while there are insane antics (like a recent food-cart war, or drinks that give people sex dreams), the mildly damaged characters keep the show grounded. The hands-down best episode of the bunch is Season 3’s “Boys II Menorahs,” in which uptight Brad and sloppy Max team up as Bar Mitzvah hype artists.
Don’t Trust the B—- was cut back in January, but ABC recently announced the second half of the show’s second (and final) season will air online. This is a harder show to love, admittedly. When I first read the description, it seemed like a wildly anti-feminist throwback, the female-led equivalent of Two and a Half Men. In some ways, that’s the case. Krysten Ritter plays Chloe, a hedonistic, narcissistic con artist, and Dreama Walker is June, her straight-as-an-arrow roommate from Indiana. If it were just about their escapades, most of which involve Chloe doing wrong and June cleaning up the mess, the show would fall flat. But the comedy is saved by one man: James Van Der Beek.
Dawson plays a bizarro version of himself, appearing on Dancing with the Stars and falling on his face, throwing himself a Viking funeral, and generally thwarting everyone else’s ambitions for the sake of his own — all while flashing a million-dollar smile and bonding with June’s mom via webcam. Seriously, go watch Van Der Beek crawl across the stage in his DWTS debut. Where has this comedic actor been for all these years?
There are few sitcoms on network TV right now that are about friendships. Family sitcoms like Modern Family and Suburgatory are in at the moment. As of this week, the fall TV lineup does include the ninth (yup, ninth) season of How I Met Your Mother, and seventh season of The Big Bang Theory. But both shows have inched their way toward mediocrity, regurgitating jokes and retreading the same relationship problems until there’s no life left in those characters. Meanwhile, these two canceled series have explored some really weird, and really enjoyable, friendships. There are storylines that have yet to play themselves out. Will Chloe grow a soul? Will June get over her self-righteousness long enough to enjoy life in the big city? Will Max find another sloppy dude to love him? Will Penny learn to love herself?
It takes a lot of talented writing to be both biting and sweet, both charming and repulsive — the early seasons of The Office come to mind. Not everyone is going to like a show that is about a group of total weirdos. But it would have been worth it to give these shows a chance to grow on us.
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