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Today In TV History

Today in TV History: ‘Happy Endings’ Explored the Comedic Possibilities of a Tight Home Perm

Where to Stream

Happy Endings

Of all the great things about television, the greatest is that it’s on every single day. TV history is being made, day in and day out, in ways big and small. In an effort to better appreciate this history, we’re taking a look back, every day, at one particular TV milestone. 

IMPORTANT DATE IN TV HISTORY: November 16, 2011

PROGRAM ORIGINALLY AIRED ON THIS DATE: Happy Endings, “The Code War” (Season 2, Episode 7). [Watch on Amazon Instant Video]

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Happy Endings was such an improbably great show because it started off so shaky. And even when it was coming together, it was tough to sum up its appeal beyond the broadest terms. Six friends in Chicago being silly or dumb or trashy or ingeniously maniacal, often at once. Truly it was the comedic chemistry between Eliza Coupe, Damon Wayans Jr., Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Casey Wilson, and Adam Pally that made the show such a reliably hilarious half-hour.

But since the first season started out so rough, people started coming around on it at different times. I honestly can’t remember when it clicked over in my head from being a bad show to being a good show, but I do know that “The Code War” was when it finally reached next-level, no-going-back, great-show status for me. Max’s ex-girlfriend from before he was out of the closet comes to town, and Dave starts dating her, above Max’s objections. This incurs the breaking of the “bro code,” and before long, all codes are off. This culminates in Max’s biggest prank to date: giving Dave a tight home permanent while he slept. What does Dave look like with a tight home permanent?

He also looks like John McEnroe’s sister, like a Jonas Uncle, like a quaaludes dealer, and like a huge lesbian. Of course, those were all options before Alex and Brad got a look at him. The kind of comedic one-upsmanship and building off of a joke until it teetered over the precipice of lunacy was ultimately the thing Happy Endings was able to do better than any other show on TV. It was far too short-lived, and the fact that it’s not streaming for free anywhere is something that should be remedied soon.

[You can watch “The Code War” on Amazon Instant Video.]

Joe Reid (@joereid) is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. You can find him leaving flowers for Mrs. Landingham at the corner of 18th and Potomac.

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