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Hold Your Horses, 'Happy Endings' Is Back Tonight!

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Oct 23, 2012 | 10:17am EDT

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Over the next few months, we’ll see new series soar, old series sour, and so much Jersey Shore madness, we’ll want to shower. Let’s face it: The Fall TV season is intimidating. With dozens of new and returning shows hitting our small screens, we know we have some big choices to make. So, to help you determine what to watch, we’re digging deep into the most notable series premiering this season. Where did each show leave off? Where is it headed? And who should you watch it with? Today, we're checking out the return of Happy Endings

Premiere Date: Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 9 PM ET on ABC. In short: this

Number of Seasons: Entering Season 3. 

Cast: A veritable wealth of previously untapped comedy gold. While Damon Wayans, Jr.. has a recognizable name thanks to his long-running Hollywood heritage, this has been his big comedy breakout. Same goes for his costars, such as character actor Zachary Knighton, UCB alums Adam Pally, Eliza Coupe, and Casey Wilson (who was also an SNL vet), and Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert, formerly typecast as the hot girl (The Girl Next Door and Love, Actually), but also known for playing Kiefer Sutherland's daughter in 24. How all six of these actors weren't major sitcom stars before this is baffling, but hey, they don't call it Happy Endings for nothing. 

Synopsis: Imagine if Friends had moved to the Midwest, had a gay guy (well, an out gay guy... sorry Chandler) and a black guy, and the whole gang was entirely self-aware and talked at a rate that would make the Micro Machines announcer's head spin. You might get something close to Happy Endings. In the simplest terms, it's about a group of six pals living in Chicago and coping with the complications that come with your early thirties, but takes that standard sitcom pedigree and flips it on its head. I mean, really, would Friends have ever had sex dreams about the mom on Dinosaurs? (Okay, maybe Ross). The team consists of the perpetually turned-on married couple — the flashy Brad and type-A kook Jane (Wayans and Coupe) — Jane's flighty sister Alex (Cuthbert) and her regular joe ex-fiance Dave (Knighton), single girl Penny (Wilson), and the man beyond any explanation: Max (Pally). 

Where We Left Off Last Season: Brad lost his job; Jane remained, thankfully, a type-A kook, but promised her husband they'd get through the rough patch. Penny finally met a suitable gentleman caller (played by none other than Brian Austin Green). Max reunited with his all-male Madonna cover band Mandonna. And Alex and Dave may have possibly rekindled their romance. 

What Might Happen This Season: Aside from what looks to be a Dave and Alex reunion (sorry Penny, I sure hope Brian Austin Green works out for you), there's the hilarious/terrifying prospect of Jane helping Brad get on a new career path, and Max might behave like a functional member of society. Might. Also, Mark-Paul Gosselaar will apparently be shaking things up in Dave and Max's apartment! (Perhaps Dave and Alex move back in together for a spell?) 

You'll Like It If: You enjoy lightning-fast, pop-culture infused humor that is somehow neither pretentious nor too low brow. 

You Won't Like It If: You like your sitcom dialogue to move at a glacial pace so that you don't have to keep rewinding your DVR to hear what you missed/laughed over. 

Ratings: ABC must have had some serious faith in the series (and rightfully so) because Happy Endings' ratings hover dangerously in the cancellation zone. In its first year, the comedy averaged a dismal 4.3 million viewers, despite having ratings giant Modern Family as a lead-in. Thankfully, word of mouth caught up with the show and its second season saw much better ratings, averaging 6.64 million and jumping up from the low 100s to no. 83 on Nielsen. 

A Tale of Two Coaches: When Nick (Jake Johnson) and the New Girl crew weren't nice enough to Coach (Wayans), he simply took off and lived with a different group of white people. Just kidding. In reality, Wayans hit the rare sitcom holy grail and wound up in two different pilots that were both picked up. Wayans was set to play the part of Coach on Fox's hit comedy, but after Happy Endings was picked up for more seasons by ABC, he departed New Girl and they replaced him with a new character named Winston (played by Lamorne Morris). 

Key Soundbites: "Ah-mah-zing!", "Whisker baskets", "So caaaa-yute", "Them thiiiiiiiiiings", "JAVAAAAA", "Bitch, it is 5:30!", "Year of Penny!", and, of course, "Women. Be. Stoppin'." 

The Tao of Max: "Denial, the first step in not wanting to admit things", "Halloween is the Arbor Day of urinating", "TV is nature's babysitter". 

Relevant YouTube Clip: The Happy Endings cast (along with the help of special guests like Fred Savage and Kat Dennings) recently visited their old stomping grounds, the Upright Citizens Brigade, to put on a live improv show. If you've got an hour to spare, it's worth your while:

   
What to Wear While Watching It: Not pants, that's for damn sure. 

Food/Drink Pairing to Enjoy: Steak-tanic with one of Brad's lunchtime smoothies. "Splash!"

Inspired Halloween Costume: Anything the gang wore during their Halloween episode last season would work (except for, of course, Dave's wildly outdated Austin Powers costume), but there's also Bear Max, Temple Grandin Dave, and Ellen Alex 

Who to Watch it With: Your group of whacky, multicultural, fast-talking, entertainment-loving pals. Or anyone who understands the power of a Vision Board. 

Who Not to Watch It With: Anyone with a deep-v-neck addiction. It might hit a little too close to home. 

If You Like This, You'll Love: Cougar Town, It's Always Sunny in Phildelphia, Parks and Recreation, Community, and — damn you conflicting DVR schedules! — New Girl

[Photo credit: ABC/Adam Taylor] 

Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran

More: 

Happy Endings: The Best and Worst From Season 2

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