The Morning Round-Up (Sitcom Edition): ‘Suburgatory’ & ‘Happy Endings’

Senior Television Writer
02.16.12 44 Comments


Just to try something slightly different, I’m splitting the morning round-up into a couple of posts today by genre: a couple of cop dramas in a bit, and quick reviews of “Suburgatory” and “Happy Endings” coming up just as soon as I call for an across-the-board chillaxing while wearing an indoor scarf…

While both ABC sitcoms had their moments last night, I found the episodes disappointing overall, and representing various weak spots each one has.

For “Suburgatory,” I’ve come to believe that Tessa Vs. Chatswin stories, or any kinds of stories built around this town and these people being so cartoonish, are the least interesting side of the show. When the show is character and/or relationship-driven, as it was last week, it can be a lot of fun, but when Chatswin turns into a town out of a Tim Burton movie, I lose interest rapidly. (Though occasionally the show manages to use the cartoonishness to set up a good character beat, like George’s “La-zy! La-zy!” chant for Tessa going into the opening credits.) So I didn’t care about Tessa’s run for school president, and the only part of the Shay family’s emotional roller coaster I enjoyed was Lisa’s glee at briefly being the favored child. Allie Grant’s been killing it all season, and her role in that story seemed to come from a real place even as she began going too far to maintain her status.

“Happy Endings,” meanwhile, also felt like it pushed the characters too far into cartoonish and/or unlikable behavior. The show generally skates a line in both areas, and skates it well, and while the overall character set-up is very friends, the tone has always been more “Seinfeld” where they hang out together because no one else would tolerate them. But everyone’s reaction to Grant was just much too much, even if James Wolk was absolutely believable as the perfect man. As always, there are so many jokes in the half-hour that some of them had to land well (Penny explaining, “Like in Dave Matthews Band, Carter Buford is The Dave!” or Max and Alex both using malapropisms for the same word), but overall, this didn’t work for me.

What did everybody else think?

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