While recent episodes of the clever comedy have felt increasingly sitcom-y (the episode when the gang couldn't find a restaurant for Penny's "cursed" birthday felt awfully reminiscent of a Seinfeld rerun) last night's episode, called "Big White Lies," was a hilarious reminder that Happy Endings is not only aware it's Friends 2.0, it's also waving that flag proudly. (Or, in last night's case, Three's Company 2.0.)
"You know that I love low-stakes, classic '80s sitcom danger!" cried Max, creator of the "Trove." (That's one-part stove, one-part trash can, and totally disgusting.) He was in luck, because that's exactly what he and the rest of the gang found themselves in, all thanks to Penny.
After running into Daphne (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Mary Elizabeth Ellis), an annoying childhood friend who wanted nothing more than to have a tea party, Penny sets forth a chain of lies to avoid her at all costs. In the span of the episode Penny, who has been doing everything in her power to avoid the inquisitive Daphne since childhood (even going so far as impersonating a Girl Scout), and her pals used turf toe, water damage, tiny lake house, a fake baby, a fake baby shower, fake lesbianism, a fake death, and losing their money to Bernie Madoff as white lies to reject her invitation.
Meanwhile, '80s sitcom danger enthusiast Max and his roommate Janet Dave found themselves smack dab in the middle of a good, old-fashioned Three's Company scenario when their pesky landlord Darren (Bridesmaids' hilarious Ben Falcone) refused to fix their oven until they stopped having so many overnight guests. Still, despite all their failed whacky plans, in perfect sitcom fashion, Darren and Daphne find each other and get off everyone else's case.
Never mind the self-awareness that truly sets Happy Endings apart from classic comedies of sitcom past, but when you've get an episode that's also filled with Revenge, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, and Hello Kitty (well, Greetings Feline, anyway) references you realize we're in a new era of comedy. Now we don't need a laugh track to tell us when something's funny: The show's whip-smart writing and the cast's hilarious performances do that for us.
Best Penny line: "Schmos like us need people to think we're nice. It's all we've got! The only people that can get away with being mean are rock stars or brain surgeons or Mr. Phil."
Best Brad line: "A suit?! Why does a baby need a suit? What does he have a job? He's not fooling anyone, he's a baby!"
Best Jane line: "No, I am not pretending I am pregnant anymore! This is not eighth grade gym class."
Best Dave line: "Our stupid landlord won't fix the over and he keeps pervin' out on my chicks."
Best Alex line: "I'm Ellen! I figure if I'm going to be a lesbian, I might as well go straight to the top."
Best Max line: "The beauty of the machine is that it cooks the food, while it incinerates the magazines. I'm basically a young, handsome Ron Popeil."
What did you think of last night's episode? Do you think Happy Endings paid a perfect comedy homage to Three's Company? Can you believe next week already marks the season finale?