Monday, October 1, 2018

REVIEW: 'Happy Together' - Jake and Claire Welcome an Exciting Pop Star Into Their Lives in 'Pilot'

CBS' Happy Together - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

A 30-something, happily married couple begin to reconnect with their younger, cooler selves when a young pop star drawn to their super-ordinary suburban life unexpectedly moves in with them.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of CBS' Happy Together.

"Pilot" was written by Tim McAuliffe & Austen Earl and directed by Phill Lewis

How sustainable is the premise for Happy Together? In the best case scenario where the show is a hit for many seasons, is Cooper James just going to be living with Jake and Claire for years? Wouldn't that just be enabling a codependent relationship that could actually stunt the growth of all involved? I have serious questions about how this show actually works on an ongoing basis. However, it does present a fascinating way into the toxicity of celebrity life in the social media era. It's completely aspirational that Cooper wants an ordinary life and not all the glitz and glamour that come from his generation of famous people trying to stand out and be noticed all the time. But again, the show really struggles when it comes to actually depicting the differences from a generational standpoint amongst its cast. Jake and Claire are a young 30-something couple. And yet, they have a landline with an answering machine for some reason. That makes absolutely no sense even though their musical outgoing messages are the comedic highlight of this premiere. Meanwhile, Claire's parents are retired doctors. But neither Victor Williams nor Stephnie Weir look old enough to be retired. They barely look old enough to have a daughter in their thirties. These are problems with casting. Jake and Claire are suppose to come across as the boring couple who schedule sex and have a quaint life in the suburbs. However, Damon Wayans Jr. and Amber Stevens West are instantly charming. They are the reason to watch the show. They are a lot of fun. They have immediate chemistry. Plus, there is even the idea that they aren't all that lame anyway. They are just meant to feel that way because this young guy comes into their lives and makes them feel bad. They aspire to live in the same fast-moving world as Cooper James. But Jake and Claire should really be more mature than that. They know the dangers that come from around the clock partying. Right now, it's just suppose to be envious that Cooper can have sex all of the time. But stability is appreciated in a relationship as well. That's what all of this ultimately revolves around. Cooper needs Jake and Claire in his life in order to keep sane. He needs that perspective to understand when things are just too weird. He needs to be happy with the decisions that he is making. He can look to Jake and Claire for guidance. But the show also struggles in this regard because Felix Mallard isn't as instantly compelling or charming a performer as Wayans or West. It's a significant issue. This bond between the three of them has to be life-changing to the point that there is actually a show to be mined here. And yes, the series could ultimately just become a hangout sitcom where this ensemble of characters are simply friends who appreciate and help one another. This premiere does a solid job in filling out their lives. But the development of the season is going to be really key in deciding if Happy Together really is a show that can go the distance for CBS.