We Need More 'Happy Endings'! An Interview with Show Writers Daniel and Matthew Libman
ABC is home to Happy Endings, one of the best comedies on television today. It’s quick-paced, cleverly written and packed to the gills with talent. It would seem like those ingredients would a renewed season make. But there is one ingredient that trumps all reviews and critical acclaim, and that special sauce is numbers. In an unprecedented move by a network, ABC has launched a campaign asking the viewers to “Save Happy Endings!”
I sat down with writers/brothers Daniel and Matthew Libman, who’ve been working on the show from the jump and have contributed tons of funny, including songs like “Love to the Power of Love” and the idea that Max needed to drive an ‘80’s limo. The brothers shared what it’s like to work on Happy Endings and weigh in on ABC’s campaign to save their show.
Hi, Daniel and Matthew! Google just told me that you guys are long time friends of David Caspe, the creator of Happy Endings.
Matthew: Yes! We’ve been friends since 3rd grade.
That’s so amazing!
Daniel: How else do you think we would’ve gotten hired on such an awesome show?
Matthew: Yeah, not only do I get to work with my brother, but also one of my oldest, best friends. It’s so much fun to go to work.
The Internet also told me that you two have written a ton of episodes.
Daniel: Well, we’ve been on the show from the very beginning but the truth is, all of the scripts get written by the entire writing staff. The real big secret is that every single person contributes to every word you see up on the screen. It’s such a team effort. It’s very much a best-idea-wins environment.
That sort of true ensemble spirit is represented in the cast of actors, as well. Casey Wilson, Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zach Knighton, Adam Pally and Damon Wayans, Jr. are all so talented and really and truly seem to share equal time on screen.
Matthew: We say how lucky we are all the time. The cast is incredible. That’s one of the benefits of being on for three seasons. You get to know the cast personally and professionally and learn what their strengths are.
Daniel: And then nine times out of ten, something that you wrote you didn’t even think was funny they make hilarious, so you lean into that. It also contributes to the pace of the show. They bring so much to the table each day.
Matthew: But in all seriousness, it’s mostly funny because of the writers…
Matthew: Maybe when you write that, you can throw joking in parenthesis but I don’t want to tell you how to do your job.
So let’s talk about ABC’s “Save Happy Endings” campaign. They’ve reached out to the viewers and asked them to help save the show. It kind of feels like a slap and a kiss because the viewers are viewing the show and clearly don’t want it going anywhere! What was your first response when you heard about the campaign?
Matthew: It seemed a little curious, but it got so much attention that it might be kind of genius. It’s certainly more talked about than any other television advertising campaign that I can remember.
Matthew: Yeah, there’s been a lot of press about the campaign. I wonder if it was some brilliant calculated plan that was so weird that it just might work. The bottom line is they’re advertising it. ABC really seems to want it to work, but at the end of the day, it’s a business decision.
Happy Endings has had its time slot moved around a couple of times. What happens to the cast and the writers when that happens? Does the energy change? Do people start to second guess themselves?
Matthew: I’ll say that from the very beginning, we’ve always been a bit of an underdog show. Our first time slot was April 13th at 10 and 10:30pm, which is like the weirdest time ever for a premiere and there were no comedies on at that hour. It basically felt like they were going to burn us off and that was going to be it. Because it was mid-season, it didn’t have the traditional launch. So every time we get moved around, we get bummed for a second and then just say, “Eh, all right, lets get back to work. We love the show.”
Daniel: But it doesn’t make us second guess ourselves at all. We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles as a group and somehow keep surviving. We have an us-against-the-world mentality.
Matthew: And we have such great fans that have always let us know that they love what we’re doing.
There’s been a swell of support from fans who want the show to continue. Are you feeling the love?
Matthew: Yeah! There have been so many articles recently and they are pretty much all saying that the show is hilarious and it would be such a drag if it got cancelled. That seems to be the tone. For us, it feels amazing.
Daniel: It’s also nice to know, as a group of writers, that we’re not crazy. We have a blast writing the show and we’re really proud of the product. It’s really validating that other people think so, too. It’s cool that so many people share our excitement for the show.
Fan campaigns are nothing new. CBS cancelled Cagney & Lacey in 1983 and after a powerful fan response, brought it back for four more seasons. Friday Night Lights was kept on five seasons after NBC announced its cancellation. So how do these campaigns work exactly? Do successful campaigns translate to number of viewers or just passion for the show?
Daniel: At the end of the day, as much as we all love television, it’s a business and it comes down to a business decision.
Matthew: The easy answer is, it’s all about numbers. Then there’s the nuanced thing that we’re all hoping for, where the drumbeat of the media and the fans is so LOUD that the network hears it. There is a genuine and real fan-base for the show.
Daniel: The thought of the show going away has activated our fans and has them crying out. Hopefully the excitement and the outcry becomes undeniable and we all get more Happy Endings.
There’s a rumor that the USA Network might swoop in and take over the series if ABC let’s Happy Endings go…. Any thoughts on that?
Daniel: Honestly we don’t really know what’s going on. We just want to stay involved as long as we can.
Matthew: Yeah, I think if someone else wants to keep making these shows, that would be amazing. The idea that we could possibly get cancelled and still keep going is unbelievable. We would be so psyched.
Do you have anything to say to the fans who’ve been fighting hard for the show through letter writing, Facebook posts, Twitter tags and petitions?
Daniel: Send money…
Matthew: …to the writers. Start a Kickstarter campaign in my name and I swear I will totally use the money to save the show.
Daniel: Also, baked goods like blondies…
Daniel: Rice Krispy Treats…
Matthew: Anything in a Red Velvet form would be helpful. And sincerely, thank you and we love you and please keep watching and also the money would be good.
When are we going to know if Happy Endings is saved or not?!
Matthew: ABC’s upfronts are May 14th, so generally we’ll know that week. So very, very soon.
Daniel: We’ll see how it plays out…hopefully it works!
Lastly, people are always talking about on-set actor hook ups. What’s up with the writers? Any show-mance happening for you guys?
Matthew: If you asked the other writers about me and Daniel I think they’d describe our relationship as highly sexually charged. Our family is just very affectionate. When I leave the room I kiss my brother in, like, a French style.
Daniel: And we all have a crush on Jon Fener.
Then Jon is one super lucky writer. We all have our fingers crossed for the happiest of endings.
David Caspe, the creator of Happy Endings, has a quick message for the supporters of the show:
“I guess if I had anything to say to the fans it would be thank you! Honestly, they are so vocal and passionate and really are one of the biggest reasons we’ve been able to stay on the air this long. They (along with the critics) have been so loud that I really believe it has made the difference for us to this point. So, thank you. And as for moving forward, I just wanna get to keep making the show. I hope it’s at ABC because I love being there and I love all the people I work with. But if they can’t bring us back, I’m down to keep going wherever anyone will have us. It’s really a 200 person family, and I think none of us want it to end yet.”