Comedy Stylings

Some weekends are spent doing chores, running errands, or spending time with loved ones. And some are spent plowing through massive amounts of pop culture. Somehow, I managed to strike a nice balance this past weekend. I feel like I put some social time in, and yet also managed to knock off two drunken episodes of America's Next Top Model, advanced in two video games, saw a movie (more on that in another post), and most importantly, finished off two full seasons of television shows I missed on their first airing.

The first was the inaugural season of Happy Endings. The recent television landscape is littered with the corpses of attempted Friends clones, so I think I can be forgiven for letting this fall through the cracks. Sure, there's a pleasant surprise here and there, but most of them are tooth-grindingly obnoxious. I'd been hearing positive murmuring about Happy Endings, though, so I thought I'd give it a shot. And hey, pleasant surprise! The cast gels well, and everyone gets to take a turn at being both the "straight man" and a wild ball of personality quirks. A couple episodes go beyond quirky into spastic, but despite some minor hiccups, it was pretty enjoyable.

Happy Endings was just the appetizer, though. The most recent season of Parks and Recreation was my meaty main course. I hadn't seen any of it on first run, and when Netflix finally made the episodes available for instant streaming, I was all over it. At first, I had some genteel plan of watching one episode a day, in order to fully soak in each storyline. That plan quickly died on the vine, and I blew through the entire season in about four days.

Season 4 is almost entirely about Leslie Knope's run for city council, and there is tons of comedy to be mined from the political maneuvering against a moronic trust fund baby, played by Paul Rudd. Surprisingly, this is also the most poignant season to date, and a lot of broad comedy was shelved to make room for some genuinely touching scenes of Leslie fighting hard to represent the city she loves.

That's not to say that the season wasn't funny. Several sections of it were downright hysterical, and the casting of Patricia Clarkson as Tammy One was pitch-perfect. If there was anything wrong with the season, it was throwing Ann and Tom into a relationship that makes zero sense, given what we know about these characters. To the show's credit, they do attempt to address that they make the worst couple in the world, but it still feels jarring, and doesn't fit into the show's established universe. That's my sole complaint, though. The rest of the season was masterful, and I'm happy that I was able to catch up with the show before the new season premieres. More shows need to do that. Hear that up there, Happy Endings?

Happy Endings - Season 1: B
Parks and Recreation - Season 4: A-


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