In a television landscape full of nostalgia grabs and reboots, “Happy Endings” is one show that has yet to find its second life. The David Caspe-created sitcom about six friends living in Chicago fostered a small but passionate audience, and was cancelled in 2013 after three seasons on ABC.
During a reunion panel at the Vulture Festival on Sunday, Caspe said that he has received offers bring the show back, but joked that none of them have been seriously considered (“six episodes, shot on an iPhone”).
Still, the creator seemed open to the possibility of a revival in the future. “I think that if someone would actually let us do it the real way, that everyone [in the cast] would want to do it.”
In addition to Caspe and showrunner Jonathan Groff, all six members of the show’s core ensemble — Eliza Coupe (Jane), Elisha Cuthbert (Alex), Zachary Knighton (Dave), Adam Pally (Max), Damon Wayans Jr. (Brad). and Casey Wilson (Penny) — sat on the panel, and took turns sharing favorite moments and episodes from the show.
Wilson and Knighton picked season 2, episode 5 (“Spooky Endings”) the Halloween episode where Penny and Max wear a combined mother and child costume, and Cuthbert selected season 3, episode 12 (“The Marry Prankster”) which Caspe agreed might have been the show’s best.
The plot in “Happy Endings” always came secondary to the jokes, but one of the central storylines was Alex and Dave’s on-again-off-again relationship. Groff talked about what could have happened, had the show gotten a few more seasons. “It’s inevitable that they had to get back together,” he said. “You know they’re going to get married at the end of season five, so season four might have been exploring Dave and Penny.”
The team also shared several scenes that ended up left on the cutting room floor. For the first season’s finale, for example, they shot one ending where Dave sang both parts of “Summer Nights” from “Grease,” a cappella. Pally joked that it “was like a Fellini movie.”
Caspe credited the cast for inventing some of the show’s best ideas. The way that Penny pronounced “amazing” like “amahzing,” for example, was Wilson’s choice. The cast laughed that shoots where the six of them were together would always run long. “The challenge was to get whoever it was on camera to break,” Wayans Jr. said. “It was really counterproductive.”
Guest performers provided some of the show’s best moments, but the panel revealed that there were still some actors left on the wish list. Wayans Jr. said that they talked about asking Whoopi Goldberg to play Brad’s mom.
Knighton said Amanda Peet stopped him at the Grove to tell him how much she loved the show. (“She came up to me at Equinox,” Wilson chimed in.) “She was gushing about the show,” Knighton said, adding that she told him to “Go to the writers right now,” to get her on. “Immediately the offer goes out, probably in five minutes,” Knighton said. “She passed.”
The on-stage reunion lasted 90 minutes, but the cast spent time together the night before. Pally, who tweeted a blurry picture of the crew out to dinner, joked that no one in the restaurant recognized them.
All three seasons of “Happy Endings” are currently available to stream on Hulu.