Happyish: Starring Vladimir Nabokov, Hippocrates and God
May 19, 2015 7:56 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe
Thom receives differing ideas on the meaning of suffering after Julius gets ill.
If there’s one thing remarkable about Showtime’s Happyish, it’s that the show is ambitiously formless. Stories about middle-aged men feeling out of touch with or angry at the world, thinking about death at nearly every turn when they’re not thinking about how to provide for their families, are a dime a dozen, so if you’re going to map out another one of those stories, you might as well do it outside the form of a traditional narrative. Happyish is interesting–or maybe curious is a better word–for how it has yet to introduce any sort of meaningful conflict into the lives of the Payne family. Shalom Auslander seems to imagine his show as truly representative of life, in that there’s no connecting dots or overarching narrative that guides us to a some sort of goal, but rather just a series of peaks and valleys that we attempt to make sense of.Fair points for this episode, but I think they're just setting up a structure for now. The episode after this one is better.
Initially, I assumed the listless nature of Happyish, the complete lack of tension or conflict, was a way to build a world that felt real and lived-in, to let stories unfold at a slower pace. In the first few moments of the premiere, that was true; the post-dinner conversation between the Lee, Thom, and their friends had a natural feel to it. Three episodes into the season though, it’s clear that Happyish isn’t interested in constructing a show that mimics reality or being patient with storytelling, but is rather more interested in constructing straw men in the form of corporate overlords and the evils of advertising.