Throughout the years after Friends went off the air there have been several films that used this concept to make several different pilots. There have only been two successful shows that have felt similar to Friends in prior to the show leaving the airwaves, and they are How I Met Your Mother, and Happy Endings.
ABC started airing Happy Endings on April 13th 2011. While the show got off to a slow start, ABC wisely placed Happy Endings behind Modern Family on Wednesday nights for the fall fall 2011 season and the show has started to gain more attention. David Caspe is the executive producer and writes for the show as well. This is Caspe's first foray into the world of Hollywood; he has not had anything under his belt until this show. While this show had a slow start to hit it's groove this is an impressive first show for Caspe, and he has assembled a great ensemble.
Who would have thought the girl from 24 who was attacked by a mountain lion, a Saturday Night Live reject after one year, and the song of comedy great would make a great part of a comedy ensemble? These are just three of people that make up the six main characters for Happy Endings. The six actors that make up this ensemble are Eliza Coup (Jane), Damon Wayons Jr. (Brad), Elisha Cuthbert (Alex), Zachary Knighton (Dave), Adam Pally (Max), and Casey Wilson (Penny).
The show started with a wedding between Dave and Alex, Alex runs out and while we do not know the gang we are thrown into their lives right away. Obviously a broken wedding would potentially tear a group apart but this group has strong ties. Alex and Jane are sisters. Jane is married to Brad. Brad and Dave are bros. Most of them grew up in the same town, while it appears Penny, Jane, Dave, and Alex did, and they met Brad and Dave in college, and they all hang out at a bar/restaurant.
While the premise sounds familiar 6 friends who hang out somewhere the show has differences that set it a part from its predecessors. One thing that sets this show a part is that it tends to use popular culture within the joke (similar to How I Met Your Mother). There is one moment in the show where Penny makes a joke to her father being part of an elite counter terrorist organization and her being trapped in the dessert and almost attacked by a mountain lion. This is a brilliant reference to Cutherbert's much maligned storyline on the second season of 24 where that happened to her character. The show has not introduced Jane and Alex's parents, I think Kieffer Sutherland would be a wonderful casting choice for their dad and the film Melancholia proves he is hilarious.
The show has also tackled its comparison to Friends. Brad who supposedly has perfect teeth goes to the dentist, but has a cavity; he begs for drugs to numb his gums. Brad gets so drugged that when he gets into the limo that his friend Max owns he slides in and calls Dave-Ross, Alex-Rachel, Penny-Phoebe, Max-Fat Joey, and tells his wife Jane-"Dont' patronize me Monica." This show works because it blends the traditional sitcom with non-traditional elements of sitcoms beautifully.
There are two other things that set this show apart. The first is that it actually has some diversity, Brad is a black male, and Max is a gay man. While conversations about race and sexuality are not constant talked about in a deep manner (this is a sitcom) there are moments where the group talks about things pertaining to interracial dating, being a gaycist-where you assume since someone is gay they can date any other gay guy, black masculinity, and the show turns every television sitcom about gay men on its head-all while being hilarious. Max and Brad are pretty, well as Penny would say AMAZING. Penny Hartz is the other best part of the show; she is the Phoebe of this show, she steals scenes and her turn style of terrible men in her life is hilarious. Make this part of your must watch TV list, and you will see some pretty great television.