If you think meeting the parents is hard, trying to make them laugh is torture. Happy Endings flirted with this dilemma in “To Serb With Love.” It also touched on Penny’s burgeoning relationship and the fallout created by Max. With everyone pulling their weight, this might have been the most entertaining episode of the season.

The Players:

  • Director: Victor Nelli, Jr.
  • Writers: Jonathan Groff and Brian Gallivan
  • Cast: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson, Nick Zano, Christopher McDonald, Julie Hagerty

Episode Title: “To Serb With Love”

Alex and Jane’s parents throw a shindig to celebrate 20 in the mattress business. Meanwhile, Max is going through Penny withdrawals, and searches for a new best friend.

The Good:

  • Veggie Nonsense: We thought the appearance of Alex and Jane’s parents would focus on their Serbian heritage, a la last season’s “The Kerkovich Way.” What a pleasant surprise it was to learn the root of Alex’s personality instead.  When creating a character as off center as Alex, it’s important to ground her in some way. Making her a carbon copy of her mother is explanation enough to fully embrace the show’s resident ditz.
  • A Nip Too Far: Penny played the role of the relationship know-it-all after 10 days—or 11 nights of pseudo commitment. We all know people like this. Almost always, these smug lovers go from a healthy relationship to nearly selling their first born to make it work (This is something Penny actually did). Watching Penny experience the beginnings of a solid coupling was refreshing—even if the writers took a brief detour to wacky-desperate-Penny town.  If they want to keep up this winning streak, they should punch Pete up a bit. Casey Wilson can’t do all the heavy lifting.
  • Full Gallagher: We’ve never understood Gallagher’s appeal.  Alex’s simple explanation—“It’s funny because it’s wasteful.”—is the closest we’ve ever come to accepting people who get hysterical over smashed watermelons. But when Jane threw on the wig, mustache, and turtleneck in a desperate attempt to make her father laugh, we almost lost it. 
  • And Then There’s Maude: Max took quite a beating last night. Of all the insults, being dubbed the Roz of the group stung the most. Like Sporty Spice and Joey Fatone, Roz—a much abused character on the show Frasier—was only remembered when someone needed to be insulted. But the realization that last night’s fifth wheel isn’t the only one that can take a beating week to week adds to the strength of the cast.
  • Bathing Suit Light:  Yet again, Happy Endings created a phrase that should have been in our repertoire all along.  Seeing someone in a bathing suit light is about to become our most over-used phrase. Finding a new way to describe someone’s shadiness is never easy; thanks for doing all the hard work for us.

The So-So:

  • Eunuch the Verb: After all this time, could it be that Dave’s the problem? Screen time was even across the board, meaning there was no way to ignore Dave and Alex’s black hole of a relationship. Watching the Kerkovich’s eviscerate his masculinity was better than Dave’s one-liners. He needs more than an Unsanitary Corn Cob Typewriter gag with Alex to make him stand out.

The Quotable:

  • “Speaking of things we never thought would last, look at you two—still going strong.” –Jane
  • “Be sure to make sexual eye contact with the carver, your stomach will thank you.” –Alex and Mrs. Kerkovich
  • “Swim class or chemistry class? It’s like Breaking Bad in here. Sit down, let’s cook.” –Penny
  • “I’m all about that Canadian strange, eh.” –Dave
  • “Why the long face Michael Phelps?” –Brad
  • “For years my Aunt Margret’s nickname for Jane has been cocaine. Yeah, skinny, white, and a scourge to the black community.” -Brad
  • “She’s Crazy Stupid Love crazy, not people who loved Crazy Stupid Love crazy.” -Max

Overall:

We expect Happy Endings to make us laugh. We just don’t expect them to use an outdated stand-up routine to do it. It’s another winning week, thanks to ingenuity and their usual pop culture infused humor. Now if only Dave and Pete could become whole characters…

Rating: 9/10

Happy Endings airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of this episode?