Is 'Happyish' Based On A True Story? Showtime's New Series Is Bound To Hit Close To Home
The premiere episode of Showtime's new series Happyish starts with Steve Coogan saying "F**k you, Thomas Jefferson" because of the line that the third President of the United States wrote in the Declaration of Independence: "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Coogan's character may be a realistic portrayal of a snarky jerk, but is Happyish based on a true story? The actual story of how Happyish got to TV is sad in itself since Philip Seymour Hoffman was initially supposed to star in the black comedy. Coogan took over the lead role after the actor's death and though the British comedian has a different energy than the deceased American actor, he still brings a realness to the role of Thomas Payne.
While Coogan's character's name may be a play on the famous American philosopher Thomas Paine, the show isn't based on any specific life event. But the series will still probably resonate with many viewers as it deals with Thom's struggle of seeking happiness between a job that he has disdain for and his home life with his family whom he loves. (Good lord! A TV series that shows domestic bliss! It must be real.) The series also features surreal moments of Coogan in bizarre imaginings — like when he has sex with "Ma" the Keebler elf during a dream in the premiere episode. Although I'm going to go out on a limb and say most people may not be able to connect with that absurd scene, I know I could absolutely relate to the daily struggles of work and home — and the profanity-laden language Thom and the rest of the Happyish world use.
Unlike many TV shows, Happyish's plot is a very modern story about a man who is likely very relatable to some of its viewers. Thom works in advertising, but knows he is only doing it to make a living and support his wife Lee (portrayed by the always lovable and underrated Kathryn Hahn) and son Julius. "I've worked for the Dark Lord for 20 years now and so I say this with a fair degree of authority, 'F**k Mad Men.' There's nothing cool about advertising. There's nothing interesting," Thom says in the first episode. Thom's rants — including one about why the hell anyone would want to follow Pepto Bismol on Twitter — are often hilarious and complete words of truth (in my humble opinion).
That doesn't mean that the show doesn't stumble at times, but with the fabulous cast that includes Coogan, Hahn, Bradley Whitford, Carrie Preston, Ellen Barkin, and Rob Reiner, the half-hour show is worth checking out when it premieres Sunday, April 26 at 9:30 p.m. on Showtime.
As star Coogan says in the above video, the series is "about laughing at the absurdity of life," which is something people all need to do from time to time. And while the series is relatable, it doesn't mean that creator Shalom Auslander made it lowbrow. The first episode entitled, "Starring Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, and Alois Alzheimer," has references to all three hyperintelligent men for all ya nerds out there.
Actress Hahn says in the video, "I hope that people can watch this show and feel a little bit of fire in their bellies to say what their truth is." Even though Happyish isn't based on a true story, that doesn't mean you won't be able to find some sort of truth in it.
Image: Mark Schafer/Showtime