When It Comes to 'Happy Endings', Someone Up There Loves Us/Hates Us

by Jake Meaney

1 April 2013

ABC's new campaign to "Save Happy Endings" is a bold and contemptuous new parlay in the ongoing war between networks and audiences.
 
cover art

Happy Endings

(ABC)
US:

So riddle me this, fellow TV lovers. Big bad major network unceremoniously yanks your favorite comedy from the air halfway through its current season for a two month hiatus—this after spending two and half seasons basically setting it up for failure, juggling it around various nights and timeslots. Then it murders its companion show, as if to taunt it with the fate that’s in store for it all too soon. And then it condemns it, upon its imminent return, to the purgatorial death slot of Friday night, where it will serve out its remaining sentence burning off episodes two at a time, with no hope at redemption. Seems like the end for you poor, underwatched (but over-funny!) Happy Endings, right?
  
Not so fast! Because the same network that has all but canceled Happy Endings is also exhorting you, the ungrateful, myopic viewer, to watch it in earnest.  It even has a new ad campaign to back this up (see below). The show needs you now more than ever! ABC wants to help, it really does—it wants to keep Happy Endings and its zany, zippy parade of non sequiturs and endearingly lovable goofballs on the air. If only you’d watch.

See, only you can really save it, it’s out of the networks hands. But just try to hunt it down, when (no, if… I won’t believe it till I see it) it returns, and resuscitate it by getting its real-time, broadcast Nielsen ratings up over the threshold of non-cancelation (which is an ever moving goal post rotating and moving up and down and out and along a three dimensional axis with no real world correlation in mathematically sound numbers) on the very worst night for watching broadcast television.  But ABC promises to uphold its end of the bargain, they really do!

ABC’s campaign to “save” Happy Endings is bewildering, discouraging, contemptuous (and contemptible), but also sort of impressively ballsy. It cuts all protests off at the pass by declaiming the network itself to be the show’s biggest fan, and then cuts down anyone who squawks about the big bad network execs killing of their beloved show right at the knees. “You, audience, you only have yourselves to blame.” And ultimately, by the letter of the law, they are not wrong. If no one shows up to watch, who can blame ABC for pulling the plug? It’s not the networks fault.

Of course, it’s the whole not telling anyone until it’s too late which shell the show is hiding under that is real injustice here. But you could almost accept it—this is the way of the broadcast world, of course—if only ABC didn’t turn the tables on the accepted discourse and make themselves out to be the aggrieved party, taking away the last recourse of all irate TV fans everywhere, especially those of prematurely cancelled shows—self-righteous indignation.

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