HAPPYish Episode 2 Recap

Happyish Episode 2 Recap
Ah, the smug satisfaction that comes from returning an unwanted package

HAPPYish is starting to grow on me even more. There wasn’t quite as much of the profanity for profanity’s sake tonight (just the right amount of vulgarity this time around), and it had some dark comedic moments that kept me glued to the screen.

Episode 2 starts like episode 1, with a rant and a middle-finger-salute, but this time from Lee, the lead female role on the show (Thom’s wife). The rant–and much of the episode–focuses on Lee’s mother, “Mama,” who is a “sh*tty mom.” Perfect moms like Carol Brady (subject of aforementioned rant) only made Lee resent Mama that much more growing up. Apparently, Dora the Explorer also hits a nerve with Lee, as she questions her son Julius (who looooves himself some Dora) why we never see Dora’s mom, and only Abuela (the grandma) in the show. Dora’s a recurring theme through the show; there’s a darkly humorous scene with Lee as Dora, Mama as Abuela, Boots the monkey as … someone (Pants? I think it was Pants) and there’s a whole lot of whining and mother-imposed guilt.

Mama sends some sort of gigantic gift, ordered from Amazon, to Julius. This irks Lee, who lives with her family in a “bubble,” and this unexpected gift imposes on her bubble. “Don’t f*ck with the bubble,” Lee says in a voice over. After putting in a huge effort to stuff the giant box into her Jeep, she reconsiders, and asks Kevin, the post office clerk, if she can return the unopened box to her mother just for the sake of sending some sort of hurtful message to her. Kevin says that although he shouldn’t, he’ll let her do that, and even gives Lee an extra day (upon her request) to take the gift home just to be sure she wants to return it, rather than letting Julius open it.

Happyish Episode 2 Recap
Lee and the Amazon box face off

Throughout the episode, the arrow on the Amazon box turns into a mouth and speaks to Lee, in Mama’s voice. (There’s a lot of trippy of stuff that goes on in this show.) She (the Amazon box Mama) is a nagging, guilt-trip-inducing hag, and the angry she invokes lets us know just how rough it was for Lee to grow up with her as a mom. At one point, while Lee is painting an odd, disturbing picture of Abuela holding Dora’s decapitated head, the box starts talking about how she always knew that Lee had artistic talent, and we think there will be some sort of “Hey, Mom’s not so bad after all” moment, but box-mom starts explaining that Lee didn’t have enough talent for her to actually encourage her to follow her artistic dreams, and Lee winds up angrily stabbing the box. Thom encourages her at one point to return the gift to her mother, as it’s more of a “f*ck you” to Lee than it is a present for Julius. Their lawyer friend, Barry, also encourages her to send the box back, so that Mama doesn’t have any claim to proof of a relationship with Julius.

While all of this Mama/gift drama is going on at home, there’s drama at Thom’s agency as well, as someone has taken the couch out of his office. He argues that it’s just a couch, but his boss, Jonathan, seems particularly outraged by the situation. Midway through the episode, he does this whole comparison between penis size and corporate culture, sort of implying that by taking Thom’s couch, the sofa thief took part of his manhood. To add to the drama, the conference rooms have all been renamed to actors’, writers’ and directors’ names by the wunderkind creative directors Gustav and Gottfrid–the men that want to change the Keebler campaign.

Keebler, Gottfrid contends, wants to be known for having “real” ingredients, and yet they are using these cartoon elves, who are all fakes. He and Gustav recommend replacing the cartoon elves with little people, who are “real people” with “real issues.” Nobody but Thom seems to see an issue with this, and the younger people in the room get into some sort of pseudo-intellectual-type conversation about using real documentarians (or perhaps the director(s) of the This Is Spinal Tap mockumentary) to make a film about the real elves. There’s a lot of strange, pseudo-intellectual, artsy, angsty conversation at that agency, indeed, as there’s also a whole portion of the episode where the others at the agency are trying to figure out how to sell Coke, which has owned happiness for the last 100 years, now that happiness tests poorly. “How do we sell happiness in the Age of Disillusionment?” a colleague of Thom’s asks. (Eye roll. This sounds like everyone in my college film class.)

Happyish Episode 2 Recap
“Sure, I’ll return the gift,” said no 6-year-old ever (except, apparently, this one).

Thom and Lee take their son, Julius, out for dinner, and ask him what he wants to do with the gift. He wants to know why he never met Lee’s mother, who sent the gift, and she explains that her mom didn’t really ever love her that much. (Whoa. Heavy stuff to throw at a 6-year-old.) Julius asks if they send the gift back, if they can go to the store and get Dora’s Magical Playhouse. Of course he can, Thom and Lee agree, and I wonder if anyone producing this show ever had kids, and understands that kids are all about immediate gratification. When there is a giant box at home, addressed to a kid, that kid’s gonna open it. That kid’s gonna fight you sending it back. But Julius does not fight back, and Lee returns the box to her mother, with an air of smug satisfaction. Kevin, the postal employee, even lets her do the “return to sender” stamping herself, for the satisfaction it brings her.

Happyish Episode 2 Recap
Ah, the smug satisfaction that comes from returning an unwanted package

Meantime, Thom is talking, along with others in the agency, to the Keebler folks, who actually also (crazy as it sounds) go along with the elf idea. Thom tells them as long as they’re happy, he’s happy. But he is not happy, as at the beginning of the meeting, he noticed that his missing couch is in that conference room. “Nice couch, a**hole,” he texts to Gottfrid, who texts him back and tells him that it’s just a couch and he should relax, because he’s acting like they (Gustav and Gottfrid) stole his penis. On the way out of the room, Thom just happens to spill something staining (coffee?) all over the couch, which I think is an awesome act of passive aggression.

Happyish Episode 2 Recap
Gottfrid and Gustav react to Thom’s text

I’m interested to see who starts off episode 3, and flips off the camera. Will it be Julius? Something tells me even Showtime wouldn’t have a 6-year-old flip the bird and go on a “f*ck”-filled rant, but we’ll see next week.