To the delight of TV fans, the cast of Happy Endings reunited at the Vulture Festival in New York on Sunday.
The ABC sitcom, which told the story of six dysfunctional friends living in Chicago, quickly became a cult favorite among audiences thanks to its quick wit and wacky sensibilities. Sadly, the show only ran for three seasons before being canceled in 2013. (All 57 episodes are now streaming on Hulu.)
Adam Pally (Max), Casey Wilson (Penny), Damon Wayans, Jr. (Brad), Eliza Coupe (Jane), Elisha Cuthbert (Alex), and Zachary Knighton (Dave) were joined by creator David Caspe and executive producer Jonathan Groff for an amahzing discussion about improvising on set, dream guest stars, and hopes for a reunion.
1. Everyone Wants ‘Happy Endings’ to Return as Much as You Do
Fans hoping for a reboot were probably disappointed to learn that the reunion didn’t include any formal announcement of the series’ return, however everyone on stage made it clear that they’d be in for a continuation of the series.
Caspe admitted there have been some offers to get the show back on screens, but he didn’t want “to do six episodes shot on an iPhone.”
“If someone would actually let us do it the real way, then everyone would want to do it,” Caspe said, with Groff making a pointed gesture to Hulu, which sponsored the reunion and was sitting front row at the event: “If [only] there was a streaming service that had some kind of interest.”
While the whole cast seemed game, both Wayans and Knighton said they’d rather do a series over a movie.
2. “Amahzing” Was All Casey Wilson
“The word amahzing was written as ‘amazing,’” Caspe revealed, calling out his wife on stage. Yes, that’s right: Penny’s catchphrase is all thanks to Wilson, who gave the word her own special twist.
The cast revealed that the show encouraged everyone to toss out ideas until the funniest one landed. “Everybody just wanted to be funny,” Knighton said. “Everybody’s comedy ego was always put aside. The best joke would win.”
3. They Wanted Whoopi Goldberg as Brad’s Mother
Over the course of the series, Happy Endings introduced many of the group’s parents. However, both Brad and Dave’s mothers never made it onto the show.
“Didn’t we discuss Whoopi as my mom?” Wayans asked Caspe and Groff before Pally joked about recasting Max’s mother played by Caroline Aaron.
Earlier in the panel, Pally revealed that she was not their favorite guest star and told him the show wouldn’t make it. “Like this is ever going to get on the air,” she said. “Don’t even kid yourself.”
“In my head, I was like, ‘I bought a house,’” Pally joked.
4. Amanda Peet “Immediately” Passed on the Show
Later, when discussing celebrity fan interactions, Knighton revealed that Amanda Peet once bumped into him at The Grove in Los Angeles, raving about the show and how she wanted to be on it. Knowing that they were looking to cast Alex and Jane’s sister, he suggested Peet should do it. The show sent an offer to the actress who immediately passed on the opportunity.
5. Dave’s Role Was the Hardest to Cast
During the panel, Caspe and Groff revealed how hard it was to cast Dave, which they considered to be the most unforgiving role on the show. Pally and Wilson were cast at the same time and had to read with several actors, whose names they wouldn’t reveal, that auditioned for the part. While they eventually found Knighton, it wasn’t until the last minute with Caspe filling in for Dave during the show’s first table read.
6. The Cast Was Told to Watch ‘The Social Network’ After Making the Pilot
One of the earliest notes they received was to pick up the show’s pace. “I remember [executive Joe Russo] being like, ‘I want you all to watch The Social Network this weekend and I want you to talk 10 times faster,’” Pally revealed. “We all came to work on Monday ripping through lines.”
The dialogue’s pace eventually became so fast (“We tried to have the most jokes per minute,” Pally said), that Groff joked that they eliminated anyone over the age of 37 from their audience. “My mom, literally, her friends watched it with the subtitles on,” Caspe said.
Other Notes and Observations:
• Coupe almost passed on the show, thinking it was “sh*t” because she confused it with another script about a group of friends.
• Since the show has gone off the air, Knighton has turned into a real silver fox. He joked that when his hair started to gray, the network made him dye it.
• Cuthbert threw up from all the orange juice she had to drink during the brunch scene when Alex and Penny get drunk and find out Alex eats ribs and Penny speaks Italian.
• The season one finale had a very different ending, with Derrick (Stephen Guarino) singing an a capella version of “Summer Nights” from Grease.
• If the show continued, Alex and Dave would have eventually gotten married, putting a swift end to the Penny and Dave flirtation, which seemed to upset no one in the audience.