While it can be sad when a TV show you love comes to an end, what comes out of that can be pretty great as well. If Freaks and Geeks had gone on, we might not have gotten the film careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, and tons of others. If Firefly hadn’t been cancelled, maybe the Marvel universe would have gone down a different path without Joss Whedon. One of the more recent shows to join the “gone too soon” list is Happy Endings, a fantastic ensemble comedy that was underappreciated for three seasons on ABC. While everyone lamented the loss, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a perfect time to wrap up and let all those involved scatter to other projects.
The Happy Endings alumni have gone on to some fun projects, most notably Adam Pally and Damon Wayans Jr. taking up residence on Fox’s Tuesday night with The Mindy Project and New Girl, respectively. Rejoining their Happy Endings team on Tuesday nights is Marry Me, from Happy Endings creator David Caspe and his wife Casey Wilson. So, between Fox and NBC, Tuesday night is a sort of Happy Endings reunion night.
Happy Endings began with the worst wedding imaginable, the main character losing his soon-to-be-wife at the altar to a man on rollerblades, then drinking away the sorrows and moving on. Marry Me fittingly starts with maybe the worst proposal possible, with Jake (played by the always incredible Ken Marino) trying to propose to his girlfriend of six years Annie (Wilson), who doesn’t realize what is happening, and instead ends up insulting all of their friends and family who just happen to be waiting in the next room.
Unhappy with the way that his first proposal went, Jake promises to try again in a few days, while Annie attempts to beat him to the punch, with equally bad results; she’s responsible for Jake losing his job. The two of them keep trying to get things right, yet can only fail miserably. Regardless of the setbacks, they can’t stay away from each other. Like Paula Deen and the “N” word.
The pilot to Marry Me tries to accomplish a lot, not only setting up the six year relationship of Annie and Jake, but also introducing all of their friends and both of their parents. Somehow in less than half an hour, Marry Me accomplishes this. Annie and Jake are incredibly charming together, playing to the strengths of both actors. For those who liked the spastic energy of Penny on Happy Endings, the grandiose actions of Casey Wilson’s Annie should feel right. Ken Marino perfectly fits that Caspe rhythm in his writing, proving—no matter the type of show or humor—Marino can sell it.
Through the awkward opening engagement scenes, we also get an introduction to all of our supporting players, with varying amounts of success. Right off the bat, Annie and Jake’s best friends are set up surprisingly well, especially John Gemberling as Gil—Jake’s divorced friend, who Annie calls a “garbage person.” Gemberling is one of the many great parts of Broad City and he’s already set himself up as the funniest member of the cast. Annie’s friends don’t get quite as great of a rollout, with Sarah Wright Olsen as Dennah, who’s presented as the pretty friend who doesn’t have much else going for her, and Tymberlee Hill as Kay, who doesn’t get much detail at all besides the fact that she has peed in a hamper.
Of course, no pilot is going to be able to knock every aspect of a strong series out of the park, especially considering how much this first episode tries to accomplish. It’s already impressive that Marry Me has figured out its voice, although it clearly borrows heavily from Happy Endings in that regard. Still, Marry Me comes out the gates as the funniest new comedy this fall, and if Caspe’s track record has shown us anything with Happy Endings, Marry Me is only going to get better and funnier from here.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.