Last night, Happy Endings rocked the holidays without even trying. “No-Ho-Ho” is a love letter to everyone whose birthday falls in the last two weeks of the year. Plus, any episode that features a break dance fight with a Hip Hop Santa is must see TV.

The Players:

  • Director: Michael Patrick Jann
  • Writer: Prentice Penny
  • Cast: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson, Nick Zano

Episode Title: “No-Ho-Ho”

When it’s revealed that Jane’s been hiding her true birth date—Christmas Day—the gang tries to throw her a soiree devoid of holiday trappings.

The Good:

  • Wretch in Unison: The harmonious chorus of gag reflexes heard at the news of Alex and Jane’s parents going to a sex camp was perfection. No one needs to know that. No one. 
  • Pop Culture Presents: There isn’t a single episode that isn’t filled with pop culture trivia. This week’s references stole the spotlight. There was the brief Oz mention, a slight Treme dig followed by a paltry defense and the way more awesome Jurassic Park theme set to “Jingle Bells”. (“Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park. Newman gets killed bad.”)  Jane’s horrible accent was likened to that of Madonna—or Madge—and her personality compared to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Who wouldn’t love to partake in Alex’s LoveActually themed gingerbread window display? Max voted Casey Afflek for president, and it seems no show can ignore the genius that is Mandy Patinkin. There was also Jane’s tribute to Adrian Grenier from Entourage. She uttered the phrase, “I am Queens Boulevard,” with more conviction than Vinnie Chase ever did.
  • JaneMas: Anyone with a birthday near Christmas knows the perils of the infamous combo gift. The fact that the gang tried to tackle a Christmas-free Christmas was enough to champion the story. But Elisha Cuthbert and Adam Pally’s accurate portrayal of addicts seemed like a nod to real holiday drama. Isn’t it the time of year we put aside our disdain for Uncle What’s-His-Face’s drinking habit and try to be a family? Max’s eggnog addiction and Alex’s present opening fetish made that possible.
  • Gift Whisperer: Getting kicked out of Jane’s party gave Dave and Penny some much-needed quality time. Dave’s gift whisperer shtick would have been more interesting if the whole gang was involved. But that last lingering look he gave Penny when she fell for Pete’s “big ass candle” was priceless. It seems as if Dave’s feelings for Penny have started to resurface. Sure, Pete made a candle heartwarming and tied it into The Walking Dead, but he’s no Dave.
  • Swaddling Sicko: Let’s take a moment to shudder at Brad’s intricate and extremely creepy fantasy. Finding out Jane was six months younger might have wrecked a lot of his daydreams. He outdid himself by water torturing eggnog obsessed Max into confessing his voting faux pas—all while talking on the phone. Remember friends, every vote counts.
  • Penny’s Workout Plan: Revealing your real birth date for the first time is quite a serious. And only Penny would think that’s the perfect time to confess her version of pilates involves eating at a bakery in excursive gear. Dear dear Penny, never change.

The Quotable:

  • “There’s nothing like that first delicious rip of wrapping paper. The gift teases you with what’s inside. You see those letters C-H-U and you know its Chutes and Ladders. Except for the time it was a Chubby Checkers chess set. Eh.” –Alex
  • “Easy breezy vibe. I thought you had more of a dead of winter, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Sarsgaard murder house vibe.” –Dave
  • Max: “You didn’t like Ringling Brothers for Brothers?” Brad: “It would have been the greatest show on earf. Don’t you dare laugh at that. Okay, you can laugh a little.” *Everyone laughs* Brad: “RACISTS!”
  • “Happy Birthday Jane…and Jesus.” –Jane
  • “What’s gonna be open on Christmas? A gas station? A drug Store? Israel?” –Penny
  • “Oh we’re sniffing people now, that’s what’s hot in the streets?” –Max
  • “Are you back on the sweet and creamy?” –Brad
  • “I didn’t vote for Obama! I couldn’t respect his March Madness bracket!” –Max
  • “I took control of my destiny. I changed my birthday. I am Queens Boulevard.” –Jane

Overall:

Even when they try to avoid it, Happy Endings does holidays better than most sitcoms. Trying to keep up with the gang was almost impossible; we were busy trying to catch every quip. It’s probably too much to ask for a New Year’s-themed episode. But let’s hope for even better things in January.

Rating: 10/10

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

What did you think of this week’s episode?