There is a case to be made that most sitcoms should have only enough of a premise to get put on the air by a network. Then the show can ditch whatever it was ostensibly “about” at the pitch meeting and simply be about: Here is a group of people, and every week they will be funny.
That to me is the secret of Happy Endings, which returned to ABC last night. Will it ever be my favorite comedy on TV? I doubt it. Could I tell you what its premise was when it debuted? Sort of, but only because I cheated and looked it up. For the record, it was one of several “couples” sitcoms that debuted last season, along with Traffic Light and Perfect Couples. But by the end of its first season, and in the two new episodes I’ve seen, its basically become about a group of characters, played by a cast with pretty good chemistry, hanging out and getting through minor conflicts. (That’s the same arc, roughly, followed by Cougar Town, a show with its passionate supporters, among them Abed on Community, though I’ve never really been able to warm to it as many chances as I’ve given it. I may just lack the Scrubs gene necessary to appreciate it.)
I won’t necessarily ever seek the show out, it doesn’t bear much deep analysis—and its renewal did cost New Girl Damon Wayans Jr.—but it’s become one of those sitcoms I’ll reliably enjoy when I do catch it. And TV needs old reliables like that.
Let us know if you’ve become a fan. Or weigh in if you have something to say about the progress of Up All Night, Free Agents, Revenge or any other Wednesday shows. Really, the premise of this post, like that of many sitcoms, is just an excuse for us to hang out.