‘Happy Endings’ – ‘Big White Lies’: Come and knock on our door

Senior Television Writer
03.29.12 57 Comments


A review of last night’s “Happy Endings” coming up just as soon as I’m a young, handsome Ron Popeil…

“Big White Lies” tried to pull off a trick that I occasionally see smart sitcoms try, in which they dust off a tired, predictable and stupid plotline from many dumb sitcoms past and try to get away with it by constantly commenting on how stupid and cliché it is. For me, though, it virtually never works(*), because even if you’re aware of the stupidity, you’re still using it. A bad joke doesn’t automatically become funny just because the person telling it knows it’s a bad joke, you know? So even though the characters kept complaining about the ridiculous nature of the various “Three’s Company” plots the episode was recycling, most of it fell flat for me. 

(*) One of the weirdest examples of this was “That’s My Bush!,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s short-lived Comedy Central show in which they tried to put President George W. Bush in the middle of the most hackneyed family sitcom imaginable. I got what they were trying to do, but found the show very tough to get through.

In fact, the only aspect of either the “a pointless lie that spins wildly out of control” and “creepy landlord is far too interested in what’s going on in the apartment” stories that made me laugh came courtesy of “Happy Endings” season 2 MVP Elisha Cuthbert. Alex’s enthusiasm for all the role-playing – including Alex switching quickly from Ellen DeGeneres-style lesbian to seductive hetero salsa dancer – overwhelmed my dislike for these kinds of plots.

Because of the show’s joke-heavy style, there were a number of good gags that had little to nothing to do with the actual plots – Max’s constant plugs for the trashcan stove, Alex’s insistence on getting penis-shaped decor for the fake baby shower – and I was pleased to see the show bring in its third “Perfect Couples” alum in Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Daphne. We’re now halfway through that cast – Christine Woods, come on down! – before they can start bringing in the guys from “Traffic Light.” (Though with Ryan Hansen’s guest appearance earlier this season, “Friends with Benefits” may have jumped the queue.)

Based on a few tweets I saw this morning, at least a few of you liked this one a lot more than I did, so let’s open the floor. What did everybody else think?

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