Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Early review of Happiness Isn't Everything (CBS)

I finally got my hands on Happiness Isn't Everything which is the latest work of Arrested Development's creator, the brilliant Mitchell Hurwitz and it looks like this review is going to make a lot of people happy.

After Arrested Development got cancelled, I always wondered why Hurwitz didn't stick it to the 20th Century Fox and went to see if some people were actually believing in his work at other networks, but he chose instead to make Sit Down Shut Up, that happens to be not good. Needless to say I was disappointed by STSU, especially because I consider AD's writing as the best and I wasn't expecting any less from this new show. AD had such an amazing stringency to the details and a dense humor that I cried myself to sleep a few times knowing I wouldn't be watching more episodes. Moving on, this is not another Arrested Development tribute.

With Happiness Isn't Everything, Mitch Hurwitz is going back to basics with a very dysfunctional family, the Hamburgers (for real). Jason (played by Jason Biggs) is an over thinker that seems to be normal on the outside (comparison to Michael can be made), and his brother, Jacky, on the contrary doesn't hide his craziness, just like their father, a renowned surgeon, who acts like he's 25. And then comes their mum, divorced from the dad, Audrey, who wants the Hamburgers to be a family again.

Although this script wasn't the funniest I read this season, Arrested Development wasn't either and it still become one of the best comedies ever made. Hurwitz's comedy works a lot with non-verbal communication (like it's all there is) that can only be showed on screen. Don't get me wrong though, the incestuous jokes I missed so much are back, just like the dark cultural references, even a few running jokes are already set by the end of the pilot.

The different arcs of the pilot were absorbing and twisted just like the characters that managed to be so eccentric and selfish though completely endearing (well, like in Arrested Development).

In case you didn't notice this will be on CBS and I'm still not sure whether it's a good or a bad thing. One thing is sure, for a comedy, it doesn't get any better than CBS, if it's there, they will find the audience meaning you won't have to fight to keep the show on air every goddamn year but on the other hand, the network has a way of transforming original ideas into mainstreamed products (see Harper's Island) that worries me.

I did compare it a lot to Arrested Development, even though it might be a little early, but as far as I'm concerned, I think this show has the potential to be the next AD, and I couldn't care less if there are a few similarities between the two as long as I can watch more of that magic touch Hurwitz has.

The pilot shot last week in LA, CBS has already ordered six additional scripts and it's getting a nice buzz meaning unless something goes terribly wrong, it'll be on the schedule next season.


  1. Yes! It might even hit Europe a couple of years later hehe!

  2. Oh man, I hated the script. I don't think it's anywhere near the quality of Arrested Development. Not even close. But I guess comedy's subjective, so one man's trash is another man's treasure.

  3. I actually was in the audience for the pilot taping, it's a funny show and the cast works great together.

  4. Mitch has it hard because no show will ever measure up to AD

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