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Featured TV on DVD Review: HAPPYish

October 4th, 2015

HAPPYish - Buy from Amazon: DVD
Video on Demand

HAPPYish

Technically this is HAPPYish: Season One, but the show was canceled after just one season, so adding Season One isn't accurate, as it implies there will be a Season Two. So we know the show wasn't able to find an audience, but does that mean it isn't a good show? Was it an undiscovered gem that deserves to be seen by more on the home market?

The Show

HAPPYish is a black comedy, which is a genre that is notoriously difficult to pull off. The darker elements need to be balanced by the comedic bits and too often the tonal shifts turn off critics and viewers alike. This show doesn't manage that balance at all. There are almost no parts of the show that are funny and the dark parts come from the misanthropy of the lead. Steve Coogan plays the lead, Thomas Payne, whom we meet on his 44th birthday. He works for an ad company and hates his job. His new boss is nearly 20 years younger than him and he hates his new boss, and young people in general. He hates new technology in general and social media in particular. Does any of this sound familiar? It should. It's cliché after cliché. Worse still, the scripts do nothing fresh with this material. Had they looked at an ad man who hates his business, but brought something fresh to the idea, then the show might have worked. Almost nothing at Thom's work works.

We also see his home life. Thom has a great wife, played by Kathryn Hahn, a great son, a great house, etc. Despite this, he isn't happy. The opening of the show has Thom talking about Thomas Jefferson's "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." and how he hates Thomas Jefferson for that. He's not happy and he doesn't know why and the vagueness of the statement doesn't help. In another voice-over, he admits the problem is him, not Thomas Jefferson. He has, as his friend played by Ellen Barkin says, a low joy-ceiling. Because of this, his complaints tend to come off as whining, even when he's right in a particular situation. Some episodes there are stakes, like when his son gets sick, but for the most part, it just feels like empty whining and I quickly grew tired of the show.

HAPPYish starts out weak, peaks in episode three or four, and then gets weaker as the season continues. Despite the large amount of talent in front of the camera, I'm not surprised it was canceled.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD, but that's not surprising. The show was canceled after one season and Showtime tends to not put much effort into their DVDs.

The Verdict

I really like Steve Coogan and was hoping I would love HAPPYish, but nothing really worked here. The DVD has no extras, so even if you liked the show, I don't think it is worth picking up.

Filed under: Video Review, Ellen Barkin, Steve Coogan, Kathryn Hahn