5.8

Happyish Review: “Starring Vladimir Nabokov, Hippocrates and God”

(Episode 1.03)

TV Reviews Vladimir Nabokov
Share Tweet Submit Pin
<i>Happyish</i> Review: &#8220;Starring Vladimir Nabokov, Hippocrates and God&#8221;

Every parent knows that it’s the worst when your child is sick. It is incredibly stressful to watch a fever spike. And it’s downright maddening to take a sick child into the pediatrician only to be told it’s a virus and you just need to ride it out. Of course it’s a relief that it’s just a virus but there’s also the “seriously there’s nothing you can do? Why did I drag him to the doctor” feeling. You feel utterly helpless when you can’t make your child feel better.

So once again Happyish hit upon a universal truth of parenting. Probably every parent out there can relate to Thom’s over-reaction, fearing his son was going to die because he had a high fever. The show is still working much better in the domestic arena than it is in the professional one. Lee and Thom’s home life should be what the show is about.

At Thom’s work, New York Life is going to pull their business because all the other insurance companies (like Geico) have gone the funny route, while they’ve stayed serious. But Thom wants to save the account. He tries everything. He gives them funny (it involves the shit hitting the fan) before imploring them to be the adults in the insurance field. They don’t have to be funny because death and accidents aren’t funny. He paints for them what the future really involves for the Peanuts characters (Alzheimer’s and a dead Snoopy). It’s a grand Don Draper-esque speech, but they lose the account anyway. This show is the anti-Mad Men.

Meanwhile Gottfrid and Gustaf are doing rounds of layoffs, which has everyone in a panic and has Thom shopping at Jack Spade so he’ll appear to be hip. This is the first time I’ve noticed that Gustaf doesn’t talk. He merely whispers in Gottfrid’s ear and then lets Gustaf speak for him. They’re the show’s Penn and Teller.

The extended joke of the Keebler Elves going from being animated to being played by real little people continues. Rob Reiner appears as himself wanting to direct the commercials but wanting their problems to be even more real. So we are treated to some very depressing cookie commercials. The whole thing has already overstayed its welcome, but I fear that the show is committed to this whole Keebler Elves thing.

So, who did Thom hallucinate about and speak to this week? Well, the foul-mouthed Geico gecko who taunts Thom about his sick son until Thom runs him over. This time Thom is very angry at God. The show insist on following a formula that begins with Thom’s angry opening rant, where he gives the middle finger to whomever has pissed him off this week, then he hallucinates, and then they makes fun of corporate America and our social media-based society. Happyish definitely fancies itself more clever and hilarious than it is. There are times where I’m watching and I’m definitely embarrassed for the show. How about you?

Other thoughts on “Starring Vladimir Nabokov, Hippocrates and God”:
• The show works better from Lee’s perspective.
• I like Larry’s idea of putting up fake family photos so he won’t get fired.
• Lee and Thom’s marriage remains the best thing about the show. Creator Shalom Auslander understands marriage. Just texting a high temperature to my husband is totally something I would do.


Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.