A dark examination of our pursuit of happiness, a pursuit that might just be the very thing causing our unhappiness in the first place. Thom Payne is 42, his new bosses at work are half his age and they say the words ‘digital’ and ‘social’ far too often. His mentor and boss, Jonathan tells him to “rebrand” himself, his corporate headhunter tells him happiness is a myth, and Thom’s not sure if his Viagra will interfere with his Prozac, or vice versa. Acclaimed actress Kathryn Hahn stars as Lee Payne, Thom’s wife, who is looking for a larger goal, a purpose, a meaning. Good luck with that. Happiness? In this world? Happiness after all is pretty high bar; in a world as absurd as ours, maybe the best anyone can hope for is HAPPYish. (synopsis via Pog Design)
Happiness is an elusive little beasty.
Try as we might to corner it and make it our own, it’s often there one minute, gone the next, the victim of any of a number of stresses and strains that leap up throughout our day seeking to steal whatever modicum of contentment and bliss we have managed to squirrel away for ourselves.
That might sound like an enormously bleak assessment of the chances for being really, genuinely authentically happy in life, but I prefer to think of it as simply realistic, an acknowledgement that finding happiness is not as straightforward as ordering a pizza or going for a hike in a lovely spot of untouched forest (both of which could well make you very happy indeed.)
HAPPYish, created by This American Life contributor Shalom Auslander, who also wrote all 10 episodes and executive produced the show along with Ken Kwapis (He’s Just Not That Into You) is billed as a dark exploration of the nature of this often elusive state of being, one that looks to acknowledge that its absence doesn’t mean life is a hellhole of misery; simply that it’s not quite as, well, happy as we expected it to be.
And that frankly sounds all very grounded and down to earth to me, and in the hands of Steve Coogan who plays Thom Payne, and Kathryn Hahn who plays his wife Lee, extremely funny into the bargain.
Why in this brilliantly-executed trailer alone, there are mirth-inducing existential ruminations on whether abs will make you happy or whether you’re “one Twinkie thing away from killing yourself”, a couple of questions we should all be asking ourselves, firstly “Who wants to follow Pepto-Bismol on Twitter?” (yes who exactly?) and rather more pertinently “What the f**k is happiness?”, and thoughts about what exactly a “low joy ceiling” is and can you buy extender packs for it and upgrade to a “high joy ceiling (it appears you kind of can)?
It also features that great dilemma of ours age, Viagra or Prozac, or Thom puts it, “I’m either soft and happy, or miserable and hard”.
It looks insightful, funny and clever all in one not quite ecstatic but hugely watchable package.
HAPPYish premieres Sunday, April 26 at 9:30pm on Showtime.