This past weekend Entertainment Weekly presented an entertainment festival in downtown Los Angeles. The two-day EW PopFest offered big names such as James Corden, Jennifer Aniston, Eddie Redmayne, Anna Faris and Seth Rogen for podcasts, screenings, book signings and panels. Even though there was a big outdoor stage with food trucks and interactive booths like competing in Survivor challenges and lip sync battles, I parked my butt in the theater on Saturday for the panels. Read on for a way-too-long description of the Happy Endings table read and find out why some guys almost got arrested over a TV show.
The day started off with a bunch of digital stars talking about their jobs as YouTube content creators with the same seriousness I would expect to see at a convention for people with real jobs, like surgeons or engineers. Then we had a panel with directors of movies expected to be contenders for Oscars, followed by some really fun live performances from the cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Gilmore Girls Revival (No Spoilers!)
Next up was the Gilmore Girls Panel, a Q&A with Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Daniel Palladino. The most interesting thing for me was witnessing the intensity of the Gilmore Girls fandom (although some Happy Endings fans put them to shame, as I’ll explain in my next post). They packed the audience in their custom t-shirts and went wild for the clips we were shown. No spoilers here but I will reveal two things to look forward to in the upcoming revival: Lorelai and Rory still talk VERY FAST and we get at least one scene with Luke not wearing a hat.
By now you either already know or don’t care that the Netflix Gilmore Girls revival will consist of four 90-minute episodes, each taking place in a different season. I thought it was interesting that the show never really had any scenes of Stars Hollow in the summer so this will be the first look at that. Amy said that was because the show started every September and the network wanted the timing to coincide with the seasons in real life. So they put the actors in sweaters in 90-degree heat and made them pretend to be cold.
Main Event: Happy Endings Lost Episode
After the Gilmore Girls panel, security cleared the room, forcing everyone to get in the back of what sounded like a very long line to get back into the theater. Two guys had been camped out in the front row since the first session just to be front and center for Happy Endings and they straight up refused to leave and risk missing this table read. Security threatened to call the police, they didn’t budge. An LAPD officer came in and said he’d have to arrest them, they stayed put. Finally, when the officer went to call for back up to make the arrest, they reluctantly got up. But at that moment the crowd was allowed to enter so the guys were able to blend in and reclaim their seats! It was an intense standoff.
So, let’s be clear. This was not an episode of Happy Endings that could be tuned up and filmed for a revival of the show; this was purely an exercise in nostalgia for the sake of serious fans. (And charity: they donated the appearance fee in honor of script supervisor Tracy Scott, who died of breast cancer.) The plot lines were absurd to the point of being actually stupid, but there were plenty of jokes and callbacks to our favorite catch phrases from the series, and the crowd loved every second of it.
What have the friends been doing?
Alex: Turned Xela into a Fortune 500 global lifestyle brand and moved to London to run her empire. She has an enormous painting of her as a centaur, except it’s Alex’s body with the head of a horse.
Dave: Currently recreating the road trip Jon Favreau took in the movie Chef – he still owns Steak Me Home Tonight! He’s also writing his own Hamilton musical… about the life of Scott Hamilton, the figure skater. He opened a Scottish food truck with Paul Haggis called Haggis’ Haggis but Paul screwed him over so it didn’t work out.
Max: Living in Washington, DC. What’s he up to? “Just clowning around. By which I mean I’m one of those guys who’s been hiding in the woods dressed as a clown. The hours are long but the pay is bad.”
Penny: Mild-mannered Chicagoan Penny Hartz has been married and divorced three times to men she met on Kid Rock cruises and is currently dating a guy named Ray whom she met when he attempted to rob her at gunpoint.
Jane: Jane and Brad had a big fight at her sister’s wedding over her wanting to take a job in Tokyo and him wanting to stay in Chicago. After the rift, she moved to Japan and took a job as the head of Toyota’s sex doll division (don’t ask I don’t want to talk about this plot more than absolutely necessary) – although Alex is convinced she’s working at Toy Yoda, a toy company that exclusively makes little green Jedis.
Brad: After the fight, Brad thought he looked old so her went to buy some lotion at Kiehl’s. The store was closed so he kept on walking and ended up in the woods getting “Revenant-ed” by bears for many moons. The writers dropped the ball on Brad’s story line, it’s like they forgot who the character was. But he ends up with a long blond beard and has an obsession with WingStop.
Plot Summary for Episode 401 – Happy to Be Here:
The crowd is shown the last few minutes of series finale at Jane and Alex’s sister’s wedding. Right after that was a big fight and no one spoke until 939 days later (“give or take zero days”).
Present day: Penny gets thrown into mall jail wearing a “pajama jean pajumpsuit” and Max’s name is still on file from the last time this happened to her, so he shows up to bail her out. His first line is, “Penny, you stupid clumsy bitch. Women be shopliftin’. Women. Be. Shop. Liftin’.” And just like that, Happy Endings is back. Max tells Penny that one of their friends is dead. Cut to opening credits.
Penny tries to figure out who it is that died. “Dave killed himself when we broke up?” (At this point I gasped at the idea that Penny and Dave dated, but then remembered of course they haven’t been in the same room since we last saw them. No, Penny was referring to the time they kissed accidentally when one of them tripped.) Did Brad lotion himself to death? Alex finally forgot to breath? No and No. “Well Jane’s immortal so… Oh my God, is it you? Are you Sixth-Sensing me?” Penny asks Max. Turns out the dead friend is… Scotty [insert super long list of middle names] Picasso.
Penny says that their group of friends has drifted apart like Robert Wagner and Natalie Woods – earning a huge gasp from the crowd followed by howls of appreciation, I guess we’re an older fandom? – and this could be their chance to get everyone back together for the first time since… The Fight [dry heave noise]. So they head to London to see Alex, who’s on board immediately and offers to go get Jane in Tokyo. Couldn’t she just call Jane? Uh, no, duh, her phone doesn’t have CHINESE letters on it. I’m going to skip over the Alex/Jane/sex robots stuff that follows because [insert dry heave noise].
Meanwhile, Max and Penny decide to look for Brad, noting it’ll be just like the good ol’ days of the Fab Five. The BFFF: Best Five Friends Forever. Just like when they dressed up as The Central Park Five (the one where Monica, Phoebe, Rachel, Chandler and Joey got accused of wilding). Are they forgetting anyone? Oh yeah, David Schwimmer! Oh, and Dave Rose. They track down Dave and find him sporting a Lin Manuel Miranda bun and beard, rapping about Scott Hamilton. He helps them locate Brad in the woods, who left instructions for Dave to contact him only in case of an emergency or if a sequel to That’s My Boy got made. Let’s not get into the Brad plot because honestly, it’s beneath this great show. I don’t know what they were thinking with the bear rape nonsense.
So eventually the whole gang is back together at Rosalita’s. Jane, who thought Brad had died due to Alex’s trickery, faints upon seeing him. At this moment, Derek runs out from backstage yelling “Dramaaaaaaaaaa!” and runs through the theater holding the note for over thirty seconds. Here’s where my favorite thing of the night happened. He goes to reach for Adam Pally’s water bottle, but Adam snatches it away from him then decides he’d rather pour it out than let the guy have his water. So he empties the bottle onto a speaker directly in front of him that he couldn’t see and Derek sticks his head under the stream to get some. It brought down the house. We also learn in a flashback to his childhood why Derek says drama all the time. In a nod to Hodor’s back story on Game of Thrones, Derek’s crazy mother forced him to draw him thousands of times (Think about it. You’ll get there. Unless you’re Alex.).
Brad and Jane reconcile. The gang wonders about how their friendship just got canceled one day. For no reason. Who can remember the ABC’s of what actually happened? Alex reveals that she got Scotty to fake his death just to reunite the gang – but TWIST! – Scotty actually does die! The news shows his photo with the dates 1972-1990, 1992-2016. RIP Scotty Picasso. Penny has to go perform Torn at the funeral because his head was torn off while riding a Sea-Doo. “Sea-Doo?,” Dave scoffs. “More like Sea-Don’t!”
Then Dave jolts awake in bed saying “Uncle Jared Fogle!,” prompting Alex to complain, “bitch, it is 5:30!” He tells her about this crazy dream he had that she left him at the altar and then Brad went on New Girl and Max slept with Schmidt from New Girl. Alex tells him to go back to bed, it was just a sweet, sweet dream. But not before she wonders out loud if leaving someone at the altar is actually an option for someone having second thoughts about getting married.
Elisha Cuthbert laughed the hardest at every joke, which was so endearing. As I’ve harped on, the plot was dumb, but I still loved the table read. And I can see that the point was that in this instance, a couple’s break up did end the group of friends, unlike when Alex and Dave broke up. It was such a special evening with hardcore fans of the show, all the writers, and the cast. We got all of the usual catch phrases: harsh barley, get to stepping, so not cyut, roof stoof, Max’s name game, Penny objecting to be called ma’am, tri-five, I’m not as dumb as I am, and more.
Now get to steppin’ over to Twitter and start using the hashtag #BringBackHappyEndings. Let’s revive this bitch!