Happy Endings Postmortem: What's Next (If the Show Comes Back)?
Happy Endings | Photo Credits: Nicole Wilder/ABC
[SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains spoilers from Friday's season finale of Happy Endings. Read at your own risk.]
Happy Endings wrapped up its Season 3 (and possibly series) run Friday the same way the show started: with a Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) breakup.
But instead of our favorite spacey blonde leaving her betrothed at the altar, this time the two had already split on the down-low and were trying to keep it a secret at the wedding of Alex and Jane's (Eliza Coupe) sister Brooke (Stephanie March). Except they each tell Penny (Casey Wilson) and Max (Adam Pally), who naturally can't keep a secret and are overheard talking about it. As a cover-up, they tell guests that Alex is pregnant. The little white lie gets out of hand, so they create a new "news cycle" about Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) — no, they are not breaking up nor pregnant and Brad does not have a love child — before everyone learns the truth about the breakup and that Brooke is the one who's pregnant. At the reception, Dave turns down Alex's offer to be his wingman and dances with her — because he wants to dance with his friend. Suh cyuht. "It's a very sweet ending," executive producer Jonathan Groff tells TVGuide.com. "We wanted to end on a positive note in case this was it."
Fall TV 2013 Scorecard: Which shows are returning? Which aren't?
The breakup, of course, leaves the door open for a Dave and Penny coupling — if there is a Season 4. So would the show go for it? Get the scoop from Groff on what they have planned if the gang returns next year.
So Dave and Alex break up. Was that always part of the plan when you got them together last year?
Jonathan Groff: Yeah, we did kind of want to do that. Let's have a season of them dating and then break them up. We never saw them together. They're funny and sweet together. So much of the premise of the show early on was Dave and Alex broke up. So this season gave a window into their dynamic. We didn't dwell on it. They're good together, so it's difficult to think of breaking them up. But you kind of want people single and out there and keep it mixed up. Now it'll be fun to see what Alex is like actually dating. We had a couple episodes of her dating early on, like the one with the guy living in Dave and Max's ceiling, but we couldn't do it until we leveled the playing field between her and Dave.
Happy Endings boss addresses USA rumors
This obviously means you can pair up Dave and Penny, but made no suggestion of that in the finale. Are you going to have them date if you come back?
Groff: We've hinted at this stuff between Dave and Penny, so in the back of our minds we thought we could get to that once Penny breaks up with Pete (Nick Zano). Do we want to revisit that? Not yet. Hopefully there'll be plenty of time for that. If you're closely following the show, that's a big piece of unfinished business. We'll probably let the characters tell us whether to go there or not next year, but right now we're not planning on it yet. And we knew we couldn't get Dave and Alex broken up and Penny and Dave thinking about each other in that new light all in one season and in one episode no less. We talked about hints and it felt like it'd be weird.
Yeah, and this way the Dave and Alex 'shippers can be happy too.
Groff: Right. If this is the end, everyone can come up in their minds what happens with all of them.
David Caspe and Josh Bycel told me that Dave and Penny are not the end game. Does that mean Dave and Alex are?
Groff: I don't know. Do they feel like they should end up together? Maybe. But I think it would be fun to see Dave and Penny date. Now do I think Dave and Penny are each other's One Tree Hill, as Alex would say? I'm not sure, but I'd like to see what kind of stories we'd get out of that and what that would mean for Penny and Alex. I worked on How I Met Your Mother and I thought it would be inconceivable for Barney and Robin to get together. But then you realize on some level, what felt unlikely, in some ways they're more right for each other than you initially thought. So maybe that could be the case here too.
18 reasons you should watch Happy Endings
You put babies on the table for Brad and Jane. Is that the next step for them?
Groff: I think it would be a year too soon next season. Babies scare me. [Laughs] When I was on HIMYM, we had this same discussion, and Marshall and Lily were even more cozy and domestic. Brad and Jane are a great couple, but what makes them fun is how out of their minds they are. Lily and Marshall, you could see them being domestic. Jane is domestic in an alpha way, but she'd be fun to see with a kid. Brad would be amazing.
But he won't like being woken up at 5:30 in the morning.
Groff: [Laughs] "Bitch, it is 5:30!" I love that line. No, he won't, but he'd make it work. But I can safely say that we most likely won't go the baby route yet if we come back. We'd probably hold it off for as long as we can.
Max didn't have much going on this season. It was the Year of Max. What's the plan for him?
Groff: Yeah, Max has had a rough year. What Max didn't have this year is a successful romantic relationship. If we come back, we'll revisit that and possibly with Grant (James Wolk). I actually e-mailed with James Wolk the other day to congratulate him now that he's on Mad Men and he also has a pilot going. I thought he's been really fun to watch on Mad Men, his character kind of sucking up. So to mirror his character, I sent him an e-mail telling him how great he was. [Laughs] And I said, "We should revisit the Grant thing sometime if you're available." And he said, "Oh, I'd love to do that." He's the one who got away for Max.
Did you want that relationship to end so quickly or were you not able to get him for more episodes?
Groff: It did end too quickly. I think we felt that he was so perfect in some way that we didn't want to have to deal with it. We didn't have James for a ton of episodes. I think he was going into Political Animals after that. I also think you want to keep some people single. It was interesting to me how much people loved them together. James is so delightful, charming. The cast just clicked with him, same with Nick Zano this year. In some ways, it's good to set up these people as ideal types. I love Penny's reason for not going further with Pete. I think Max's was a little more, "Hey, we need to get out of this fast." Grant says he doesn't want to have kids and Max is like, "I don't even know what I want for breakfast. How do I know if I don't want to have kids?" Which is a little bit out of character for Max, but interesting. He wants to keep his options open.
25 Bubble Shows: Which will survive?
Is Grant Max's One Tree Hill?
Groff: Maybe! If they can agree on kids. But it's time to see Max in a relationship again. The romantic story lines we had for Max this year were opportunistic and one-offs. We did it for the story rather than to set up anything real for him. We needed to have somebody still out there. With Alex and Dave together, you needed someone to say, "Oh, I had the craziest hookup last night." He was our serial dater this season. Next season with Penny and Alex out there, you'll see Max afford to have a serious relationship.
You have so many big plans and don't even know if you can do them yet.
Groff: [Laughs] I know! We'll find out in the next few weeks. I know ABC loves us and that's a great feeling. Sony, great studio to be with, and ABC Studios, have been great at keeping Community and Cougar Town around. The simple fact is the target audience for our show, which 10-15 years ago was watching TV at the appointed time, is not watching TV at the appointed time now. Going head-to-head with another show that's similar and heavily promoted [New Girl] was tough this year. So many people say to me, "I love your show. When's it on?" "Have you ever watched it when it's on?" "No, I have people over and we watch six at once." Or "I watch it online at work during lunch." That's how people watch TV now. It's been a weird test case for the network. But the DNA of it is a great show: quirky, out-there, fast-paced.
Do you have anything to say to your ah-mah-zing fans?
Groff: Just thank you. Our fans are great, even though I don't think any of our audience is home on a Friday night. [Laughs] They're drinking, they're playing basketball, what have you. That's OK. We're not expecting them to be home. They are fantastic. And ABC is too. ABC has stuck with the show and it's not exactly their comedy brand. I think we do a good show and I think ABC does some good comedies. In that sense, we're an ABC show. The flip side is we're not a family show. We're something different. ... ABC, honestly, sincerely, could not have been better creative partners in terms of trusting us, letting us be funny and weird and nudging us to make sure it's grounded in the right way. From the moment I've gotten involved until now, they're been such great partners. And now we wait and see.
What did you think of the finale? Do you hope Happy Endings returns next year?