Spring 2015 TV Review: One Big Happy

23 Mar

One Big Happy

I recently talked about the remake of The Odd Couple, which was the latest attempt to make what I call a Sitcom (note the capital S), a comedy designed to consciously double down on and exemplify the fashion of old-style sitcoms which were popular for decades but have diminished in popularity over the last decade or so. These sitcoms share several characteristics, outsized protagonists, a laugh track, big jokes followed by significant pauses and an emphasis on broad comedy. One Big Happy is a newer invention; a show that tries to fuse a more modern ethos about the new ways young-ish people live, the relationships they have, and this diverse world we live in with this very old style of comedy.  One similar analogue that comes to mind offhand is 2 Broke Girls, which is not a coincidence since One Big Happy creator Liz Feldman worked as a writer and producer for that show.

Like with 2 Broke Girls, there’s a shiny facelift of the new plastered on the exterior, but the parts underneath are creaky and old, with the same broken humor (or really lack thereof) that has been pumping up mediocre or worse sitcoms for decades.

One Big Happy wears its premise on its sleeve, laying it out very clearly over the course of the first episode. A single commitment-phobic straight guy and his single lesbian best friend decide that if they are both single after a certain point, which they are, they’ll have a baby together, impregnating her with his sperm. After a couple of failed attempts, the baby takes, but at the same time, the guy out of nowhere falls head over heels for a  British woman who he marries to prevent her from being deported. Thus, this wacky trifecta has to make things work without killing each other and there’s no other choice, because there’s a baby involved.

There’s nothing subtle or clever about the humor in One Big Happy; it’s as broad as it gets. Broad comedy can be funny of course in the right hands but this certainly isn’t that. I took a note while watching that the lesbian character said at one point “I peed on it” to her bestie regarding a pregnancy test and it for some reason got a hysterical laugh; that’s pretty emblematic about everything in this show.

One Big Happy tries to sneak up on people who only know or hear its premise as original, but don’t be fooled. The admittedly novel premise cloaks a pretty bad comedy.

Will I watch it again? No. It was bad, and there’s no reason for anyone to watch it in the unlikely event it survives. Sorry, Elisha Cuthbert and guy who played Pete in Happy Endings. Long live Happy Endings.

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