'Happyish' May Explore How To Be Happy, But Star Sean Kleier Says You Shouldn't Expect An Answer

Are you happy? It's a pretty deep question to ask, but Showtime is going there in the form of Happyish, a new comedy series premiering April 26. The show revolves around a middle-aged man named Thom, who is slowly being pushed out of the ad agency he works at with the addition of younger leadership, as well as his family, and is constantly asking the question of what exactly happiness is. Sean Kleier, who plays Mikal, takes a stab at answering the question. "There's this hype that [happiness] can be accumulated somehow with money, fame, possession, even love, but I feel like true happiness is knowing yourself," Kleier says.

The show revolves around what we as consumers are being sold, through media, advertisements, and television. It makes sense that Thom, who usually isn't one to buy into these types of mass-media pitches, would work at an advertising agency. "It's almost like a dull hum in the back of our heads all the times," Kleier says of the idea that consumers are constantly being sold to.

Happyish, which doesn't have any ads because it is on the paid cable network Showtime, has a take-no-prisoners mentality when it comes to incorporating real-life brands. The portrayal of marketing on the show doesn't hold back.

Along with deglamorizing the world of advertising, Happyish also manages to flirt with the small difference between tragedy and comedy. Some of the situations on the show — for example, Thom (Steve Coogan) slowly being pushed out at work for not being young, cool, or hip, all while dealing with depression and family issues — would normally not make for comedy, but somehow in this case, they do. "Comedy transmutes our pain," Kleier says. "So if we put it in a context that allows us to laugh, there's a measure of relief."

So is laughing at life's twisted situations the way to find happiness? According to Kleier, Thom's road towards figuring out how to be happy isn't that easy. "The pursuit of happiness becomes no clearer," Kleier says about the rest of the season. "And that's kind of the point."

"The hilarity really stems from his internal conflict, and Thom being put in positions where he is continually morally compromised for the sake of who he calls Satan — the marketing and advertising world." So maybe Thom's road to happiness won't be easy, but at least we'll be able to laugh with him along the way.

Images: Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME (2)