Eliza Coupe, Zachary Knigthon
The grumbling you've been hearing for the past two months has been the unhappy Happy Endings fans who have been waiting for the comedy's return to ABC's schedule. Yes, it's now on Fridays at 8/7c and yes, like a Xela dress, a move like that can turn a good girl bad. But according to executive producers David Caspe and Jonathan Groff, the show is coming back with a bunch of new episodes that are worth the wait. So spread the word, set your DVR, and tell your friends. Because it would totally sooook to lose this one now.
TV Guide Magazine: Zach Knighton told us that the episodes you're coming back with are some of the best so far.
David Caspe: We have a lot of great ones coming up. The first night in, we've got David Alan Grier [as Brad's new boss] who is unbelievably hilarious. From the second he got on set, everyone was dying. He is so funny.
TV Guide Magazine: What else do you have coming up?
Caspe: The Max-Penny story is super funny. It's based on a theory of my sister's, which is basically when you're having trouble texting your guy or girl too much, you need to go cold turkey. Her system is to take Nyquil and go to sleep at like 4 in the afternoon because the nighttime is the hardest time not to text. So Max and Penny take something called NocheTussin...we're not sure if it's a Mexican or Libyan outlawed version of Nyquil.
TV Guide Magazine: Wait, Max has a guy now?
Caspe: When we come back, Max has just met someone and this system is best used when you have just met someone and don't want to over-text them. And Penny uses it to avoid annoying Pete with wedding questions about the dress and the location and all that stuff.
Jonathan Groff: Oh, and RuPaul is in episode 14. He's playing a hairdresser named KrisJahn, but nobody can say his name right except for Jane and Alex. He has been their hairdresser forever, and we find that when Jane and Alex are mad at each other, they complain to KrisJahn and it stops there. It's their weird way of managing conflict. Of course, Max catches wind of that and has to disturb the eco-system. It blows up in his face and creates huge problems for Brad.
TV Guide Magazine: Speaking of blowing up, "The Marry Prankster" episode was perfection.
Caspe: Thank you! I actually think that might be the best one we have ever made.
Groff: We love that one so much, that when we had a director cancellation for our season finale, we brought back Rebecca Asher who directed that one. She did an amazing job with a very hard episode.
TV Guide Magazine: Re-watching old episodes, it's insane how much material you guys get into 22 minutes.
Groff: That's because we cut so much air out of every show. There is never a single frame where someone is not speaking. If you were to turn one of our episodes into a multi-cam show and added a laugh track, it would be 55 minutes long! [Laughs]
Caspe: We've got a ton of great writers on the show and we all work together to get as much story in as possible. And a lot of it has to do with having six awesome people in the cast, so we're not trying to hide anyone. There might be some TV shows, I'm not sure, where they aren't that excited to write stories for certain characters. It's the opposite here. Not only do we think all six deserve it, we enjoy writing for all of them. So we very much want to have enough real estate and stories for the entire cast. A lot of time that creates too much story, but we jam it in. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: A few weeks ago, some interesting casting news came out about the third Kerkovich sister...
Groff: Yes, and I think we nailed it. It's going to be a fantastic visual reveal and she is so funny...it's Stephanie March from Law & Order. She is this tall, beautiful blonde, and the concept of the character is that she is more Jane than Jane is. But Jane is sort of a mess around her older sister, Brooke. It's in our finale. Eliza Coupe is so funny in it and it gave Elisha Cuthbert great stuff to play because she becomes even more of the baby of the family. Eliza had always loved Stephanie on Law & Order, so when we first cast her, she flipped out. Coupe was obsessed with her.
Caspe: It's the perfect mix. There is a shot in the episode where it's the three Kerkovitch sisters standing in a row, the shortest to the tallest. Because you know, Stephanie March is like six feet tall, and as we have said many times on the show, Cuthbert is tiny. It's a very funny visual. They look perfect.
TV Guide Magazine: This is in your finale? As per past finales, is there a wedding?
Caspe: Yeah...it's her wedding.
Groff: The other piece of casting we did that we're very excited about — aside from bringing back the incredible Megan Mullally and Michael McKean in our next-to-last episode, which is also David's directorial debut — is that we have Andy Richter as Penny's long-lost dad, and he was so funny. Andy is a good actor. He's basically this deadbeat dad who left Penny as a baby, and yet because it's Andy playing it, you don't hate him. It makes for some really interesting story for Penny.
Caspe: He left Penny and her mom to pursue his dreams of Broadway, but the closest he ever got was nearly stealing Stephen Sondheim's umbrella at the door of Studio 54.
TV Guide Magazine: How do you guys feel about the Friday move?
Caspe: If it was up to us, we'd love to be after Modern Family for the next eight years, obviously. [Laughs] But we do think that ABC loves the show and believes in it, and is doing their best to find us some kind of place where we can survive. I think this is a way to get some more exposure and hopefully bring us back in a better slot next year.
Groff: It sort of looks like a burn-off and maybe on some level, that's part of it. But I honestly think, as it was said to us, they could have canceled the show. They could say the moves didn't work and the numbers aren't there, but they really do like the show and they want it to work. So this is keeping us in the game and hopefully we'll be on the roster come fall so they can look at it and see that this is a show with so much appeal and so many fans who love it. Again, it's not ideal, but it is an attempt to keep us a viable magnet on the board next year.
TV Guide Magazine: The good news is, Friday ratings are more forgiving, too.
Caspe: Yeah, I mean I just wonder, our audience skews young, so will they already be out at dinner or on their way to the bar? Then again, who knows? The majority of our audience is watching on the computer or the DVR anyway, so I don't know if any night is great for us. None of our audience is watching it on TV.
TV Guide Magazine: Then we need people to just turn on ABC and leave it on when they go out on Friday nights.
Caspe: I love that plan! And if was a true burn-off, they wouldn't do any promotion, much less a promotion that says "save the show."
TV Guide Magazine: Did you know they were planning to promote you that way?
Caspe: We'd heard that it was going to happen, then it just broke the other day. I have a Google alert for the show and have seen more places and websites picking up that promo than any other ad they have run for us. So maybe that's a good thing?
TV Guide Magazine: All the cool kids I know love the show.
TV Guide Magazine: Of course! And you guys did L.A.'s Outfest last summer...once you get the gay audience, you're in.
Groff: We're gentrifying the network! We really appreciate the fans and what they have done. Hopefully they will show up in enough numbers that ABC will go, 'We can't kill this show.' You have to know, this cast...Damon Wayans Jr. is going to be in a big studio comedy, Let's Be Cops, with Jake Johnson from New Girl. Adam Pally is doing the lead in a studio comedy called Road to Nardo, and Casey Wilson had a movie at Sundance, Ass Backwards, that she wrote and starred in.
Capse: Elvis Mitchell just had her on [his podcast] "The Treatment," talking about how much he loved her movie and the show.
TV Guide Magazine: So this is a good time for ABC to have a cast like this.
Groff: Exactly. Shows like Freaks & Geeks and other shows got canceled so early, the networks couldn't even tell what they had. Even if we just go another year, there's a chance one of these movies could break out big and you have a Kristen Wiig sitting in one of your shows. I don't know if that will happen, but I do know our cast is insanely talented.
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