January 8, 2013

Episode Review: HAPPY ENDINGS, "Ordinary Extraordinary Love"

As much as I love Happy Endings, I have to admit that recapping it twice a week is going to get old fast, especially when the episodes drastically vary in terms of quality. That's not to say that "Ordinary Extraordinary Love" was a bad outing for the show per se, but it couldn't keep up with the one that just occurred just two nights ago.

Now that Jane's the breadwinner thanks to her job at the Car Czar and Brad's continued unemployment (despite the fact that he had a job when the season started and quit for some reason), he's feeling like his manhood's being threatened. To prove that he still wears the pants, Brad decided to fix a dimmer switch instead of calling an electrician and of course Dave had to be involved. When things ended horribly, the two friends accused the other of being the reason due to their lack of machismo, and ended up staging the Man-Am Games, which was interrupted by Jane who eventually healed her man's bruised ego.

Speaking of Jane, she was off on her own adventure with Max and Derrick. Max was still in a rut and didn't know how to meet guys. The solution was for him to figure out which gay subculture he fit into, but he was struggled with finding his place. Leave it to Jane to plan a night that involved the three of them hitting up every event being thrown by various categories of gay males, but Max didn't feel a part of any of them. Instead of moping, he decided to create his own niche (optimistic, red-velvet walruses) by throwing a mixer. Just when it looked like his plan was a bust, a cute guy wondered into the bar because he was curious about the name and because he too didn't fall into the pre-existing types.

Lastly, Alex sold a dress to a famous pop star, and Penny brainstormed an idea to use it as a way to get some publicity for the boutique. Since Alex knew where the singer was going for dinner, Penny slipped that information to the paparazzi. After being mobbed, the pop princess went ballistic and ended up breaking a camera before jumping all over Penny's car while screaming the name of Alex's store. Not to be deterred, Penny spun the bad press into an opportunity by promoting the shop as ground zero for the meltdown.  Things were going well until the girl they scorned showed up and made them feel bad for what they had done. As a way to make it up to her, Penny and Alex plotted a way to distract the photographers while she and her date get a nice quite evening to themselves on Dave's food truck.

In some ways, "Ordinary Extraordinary Love" was a cross-section of Happy Endings episodes because you got every flavor of the show. There was the off-the-wall insanity plotline involving Penny and Alex which relied heavily on pop culture. You had the oddly sweet version with Max and Jane as he tried to figure out who he was while being supported by his friends. And then there was the story we've seen a million times before thanks to Brad and Dave.

Now, I've always said that using familiar ideas is not a sin, and Happy Endings has been able to spin some into gold, but for some reason this one just didn't work. For one, Brad's never seemed to be the most masculine character to begin with and that's been part of his charm, so him getting all upset because he lost the role of breadwinner didn't feel in character. Things were not helped by the fact that we once again got competitive Dave whom we just saw a few days ago, so even his role in the episode felt stale. Plus, the whole "guys fixing stuff around the house to prove they're men" routine's lost a lot of its charm over the years, so I was not happy to see it show up here.

As for the other two plotlines, they worked fairly well but the strongest of the two was Max's struggle with where he fit in. It was just a different take on a character we've known for a while, and seeing him in a more vulnerable state was the right change of pace that the show needed. My only real squabble with it has to do with the fact that he's known which sub-group he belonged to in the past (he's referred to himself as a cub numerous times), so his identity crisis came off as drama for drama's sake, but it all worked out in the end.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • What I will say about the Penny and Alex story is I'm always in favor of opportunities that allow Casey Wilson to sing... which she also did two nights ago.
  • So, Alex can barely function but she's a wiz when it comes to female anatomy. She's an enigma.
  • Aww, I've missed D-Rock.
  • A Lance Armstrong joke... too soon?
  • Max's inability to say that he's attracted to women might be his best moment in a while.
  • I'll give the Brad and Dave shenanigans some credit, it did have some funny moments like the paint on the pants and the meta joke about stud-finders.
  • Funniest Gay Subculture of the Night: Sitcom Gays
  • "Smashmouth she ain't."
  • "I know what you're doing. You're Gay Yoda-ing me. Wait, is that redundant?"
  • "The only Orlando I like starts with Tony or ends in Bloom."
  • "This manhood stuff is all in your head. I mean you could not be acting more like a man right now. Stupid, stubborn and smelly."
So, had this episode aired a week after this one, I may have liked it more because it would've felt fresh rather than like a series of re-treads, but it still had enough moments that made me laugh and I cannot really blame the show for that. Damn you, ABC!

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