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Festive Rewind: Happy Endings “No-Ho-Ho”

24 Dec

It’s TV Ate My Wardrobe’s first festive season and to mark this occasion we are hosting a very special rewind series. What this means is that we will be featuring a whole host of guest posts and in the spirit of the holidays we have asked a variety of writers to discuss a festive episode of their choice. These will be appear on the site over the next couple of weeks and there’s an eclectic mix including teen dramas, science fiction, animation, comedy, drama and more to get you in the celebratory mood. Or to at least give you plenty of suggestions of TV to watch over the break.

Switching things up and Yashoda Sampath brings us some sitcom joy (and sadness thanks to cancellation) with Happy Endings and “No-Ho-Ho.”

Happy EndingsI’m going to take this space to celebrate the most tragic television loss of the year. If you missed out on the superlative third season of Happy Endings (and judging by the ratings, most of you did) then now’s the time to reflect on what you missed (and enjoy a Christmas-time marathon).

Happy Endings’ fatal flaw is that its humor is so perfectly off-the-cuff, and so often visually based, that it’s nearly impossible to write about. (Believe it or not, people aren’t usually evangelized by, ‘hey dude, you’ve just gotta see it. you’ve just gotta see it.’). But the Christmas episode, “No-ho-ho”, is not only one of the funniest episodes of the series, it also serves perfectly well as an introduction to our zany group of friends.

The premise, like most things of genius, is shockingly simple. Jane has been hiding the fact that she’s a Christmas baby for most of her life, and naturally the gang finds out. (In a perfect character detail, even her insanely blinkered younger sister, Alex, has forgotten the secret of Jane’s birthday).

So the engines are set in motion: the gang makes a promise to Jane that they’ll completely block out the invasive presence of Christmas just for this one day, so that she can celebrate her birthday on the actual day of her birthday.

But, this being no ordinary set of friends, each one has a particularly bizarre Christmas fetish that threatens the scheme throughout. Max (Adam Pally, who’s earning recognition as a variant of the same character on The Mindy Project), struggles to fight his addiction to eggnog, while Alex struggles against a need so strange that I don’t even want to spoil it (Elisha Cuthbert is an absolute comedy genius, for those of you who’ve only seen her wasted in dramatic roles).

Brad equally gets his moment, as he majestically overreacts to the weaknesses of his friends. Let’s just say that kitchen sink water-boarding is involved.

What makes the episode work, apart from the wonderful A-plot, is how well it uses the characters themselves to drive the humor. Max, the least gay gay man ever portrayed on television, provides the perfect counterbalance to Brad, the exuberant metrosexual, while Jane’s dictatorial tendencies work perfectly against Alex’s outer-space flightiness. Also, three words (possibly five depending how you see it): Hip-hop Santa Dance-off.

The show really found itself in season 2, but in season 3 it takes the ensemble to new heights of hilarity.  Do yourself a favor this Christmas: spend an hour or two with our merry Chicago psychopaths.

Yashoda Sampath is a digital strategist who blogs whenever she has the time, and often when she doesn’t. She firmly believes that 16 months is more than enough time to describe herself as a Brooklyn native, and consequently annoys others by teaching them how to pronounce Long Island like a local (Lorne Guyland).

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