Ah, the bittersweet sound of those remembering the recently deceased Happy Endings. It's so hard to say goodbye — so hard, in fact, that writers tweeted unused jokes from the show and showrunners David Caspe and Jonathan Groff talked about what they would've done in season four. And now, we have Caspe and his fiance Casey Wilson (aka Penny) to remember the show once again. There's only whispers of the show we once had now — Caspe talks about how the writers were planning to give Brad and Jane a baby, and Wilson and Caspe joke around about how they were planning to reveal at the end of the show that all the characters were actually dead. But the most interesting point of the interview was that Caspe said he never planned to have Penny and Dave date, even though the show seemed to hint at a romantic tension between them.
“I don’t think we would have done the Dave and Penny thing. Our show is not at all a soap opera. Some of these other comedies are able to go a little more melodramatic than I ever liked, and any time we tried to do it, sometimes it felt a little false. I don’t think anyone really wanted to see Dave have to date his ex-fiancée’s best friend. There’s just something about that that’s kind of mean. I didn’t want to have to have Penny and Alex hate each other for five episodes. I don’t know if Dave and Alex would have ended up together, but we probably wouldn’t have had anyone within the group of friends ever date another person [in the group].”
It's a revolutionary concept, especially for a show like Happy Endings. These middle-class, city-living, thirtysomething-group-of-friends-with-problems sitcoms seem to have a set of rules about how relationships work between the friends: there will be one will-they-won't-they couple, one married couple who's madly in love, and all of the single friends will have as much sex with each other as humanly possible. Eventually, that leads to someone dating someone's ex, and then things get awkward for the characters and audiences alike.
Sure, taken individually, the Robin-Ted and Robin-Barney relationships are compelling. But the whole weird Barney-Ted-Robin love triangle on How I Met Your Mother is something that's been drawn out and discussed in the show so many times that it's become tiring. And remember Ross and Joey on Friends? That was an awkward stop-start relationship that never really added much to the show.
So while it may seem like we were lead on as an audience, it's definitely better for the show that Penny and Dave never got together. It's practically become a trope on these kinds of shows, and it's not realistic. Sure, sometimes people date their friends exes, and yes, it's a complex situation and something that can be good fodder for a sitcom. But also, sometimes people just develop temporary crushes on their friends and nothing comes of it. Life doesn't have to be melodramatic to be funny.
So sitcoms about a thirtysomething group of friends living in the city, try to keep your clothes on. We know you're all attractive people, but some of you are your friend's exes and should just stay friends, so please, try to exercise some damn willpower for once.