Eliza Coupe on Egg Babies and Her Black Swan Moment That Might've Saved Happy Endings
Happy Endings had all the ingredients for a quick midseason burn-off show: It premiered in April in a 10 p.m. time slot with back-to-back episodes that aired out of order. But the sharp-tongued, pop culture-referencing sitcom soon developed a devoted following to earn a surprising renewal. "I think it was the fifth episode where I was Max's beard and Penny dated [the guy named] Hitler that it started clicking," Eliza Coupe, who plays Jane, tells TVGuide.com. "It was such a well-written episode. I felt like that was when people got into it." See what else the actress has to say about the show's "amazing" (or is it "a-mah-zing"?) fans, why Brad and Jane are not the Drapers, and Jane's quest this week to find her egg baby — the child she believes was conceived from an egg she donated in college.
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Jane is searching for her egg baby, which begs the question: Will she and Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) have kids any time soon?
Eliza Coupe: I don't know. I think that Jane likes the idea of having a kid, but the whole "that's the next step" would really disrupt her whole life. ... She had that plan [in the pilot], but I don't think she wants to be a mom yet. I think it's more real and more modern that they don't have a kid. Just because they're married doesn't mean they have to have a kid. That's what I like about them — making the traditional marriage a little hipper.
Do you believe in the baby sitcom curse?
Coupe: I do. ... You know, just don't bring kids into the mix! They're annoying. Because if you have a baby on a show, eventually, you'll need a kid actor. Then it's going to be one of those child actors who are 8 years old and who says things like, "Back when I was a kid." You're like, "Shut up! 'Back when I was a kid' — yeah, which is right now! You're 8. I hate you!" [Laughs]
I love the fact that she donated an egg, especially given how uptight she is now.
Coupe: Yeah, and I like that she so badly thinks it's her egg baby. Like no one else could've donated an egg! But when I first signed on, we made an agreement that Jane has a really dark, checkered past. I like that we introduce that a little more. There's a reason why people become control freaks. They weren't always like that, but there's something that sparks that. I think that it makes sense that she has had a different kind of path and now she's overcompensating for it. She was a bit of a beer slut. Jane was crazy. She was that girl in college who was always the life of the party, drinking and slutting it up. So yeah, she sold an egg. She needs to go to Cabo!
Brad didn't know she hooked up with girls back then or about the egg donation. Why isn't he privy to her past?
Coupe: Right. Brad is in the dark. There's a lot he doesn't know. We're going to find out more this year. I don't think she's lying to him, but that part of her life is over. I think they both have things they hide from each other, but they're pretty crazy behind closed bedroom doors.
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Is that why they're such a great couple?
Coupe: Yes! Lots of sex! [Laughs] They're almost like buddies that are married. It's a more modern-day relationship. It's not so I'm the man, I'm the woman. It's not Mad Men. It's not like the Drapers, like we don't know anything about each other. Brad and Jane are really comfortable with each other. They can be buddies and make fun of each other. They can each play the straight guy. ... Yes, it's heightened for television, but it's definitely more real than the Drapers.
Damon makes his pants drop by snapping his fingers again this week. How does he do that?
Coupe: There's a very heavy belt and Damon is just a wizard. It's his thing, really.
I heard you cut your hair while waiting to hear if the show was picked up. True?
Coupe: Yeah, it was a real Black Swan moment in my bathroom. I've had a lot of people take some scissors to it at this point. I did it myself, then I went to my hairstylist and then I did a movie in China this past summer, and the Chinese hairstylist decided to get into it and he did a great job. And then recently, we went a little shorter and the woman on Happy Endings trimmed it. Now it looks really, really nice. I'm actually wearing it a little straighter. It actually looked pretty good [when I cut it]; it was just choppy. I mean, look, if things don't work out with Happy Endings, I'm going to open a salon.
Maybe that's why the show got renewed. It was the anti-Felicity curse.
Coupe: Maybe! But, honestly, I do think there is something to be said about going on with your life. If I just sit around and go, "I'm not going to change anything. I'm going to focus all my energy on this show getting picked up," that's really setting yourself up. Going on with your life, you're setting yourself up for the next thing. And luckily it worked out.
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People who love the show are really into it. Are you surprised at how it's caught on?
Coupe: Kind of. We've been talking about our show as the online show. People love it, but I have not seen a billboard. There are no billboards! People find it and they love it. I went to a wedding last night and people were talking about how they sit down with their kids and watch it. I was like, "Wow!" It was just nice to hear that. We've been doing a lot of Twitter stuff and Facebook stuff, and I think that's hitting our demographic too. Maybe the billboards aren't necessary if we can stay up with the hipper things. Zach Knighton and I just did an "apology" to the frolf community. We did a live show at UCB and we're going to do that again and try to keep it fresh and find different ways to get people interested. The show has a similar structure to Friends, but it's different and I think our fans really see that.
What else can we expect this season?
Coupe: Brad and Jane decide to take couples improv, which was a lot of fun to shoot. But oh, the Halloween episode — buckle up! You have to see my costume! It was the best costume in the world and I was in it the entire episode. And let's just say I'm completely covered except for my face in not a flattering way. It's a food item and I'm completely covered in a mock version of this food item made out of Styrofoam. It's just an insane costume. Brad is Brad, and we take on the suburbs. It was one of the episodes Fred Savage directed, and it was awesome.
Happy Endings airs Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.