I finally got around to watching Happy!’s season 2 finale last night. Sorta spoiler: Jeff Goldblum cameos as the voice of a cloud! Hours later, SyFy canceled the show. Doh! If only I had watched the finale live when it first aired last week, maybe, just maybe having one extra viewer would have saved the show.
Not bloody likely. For starters, I’m not part of a Nielsen home. So, I don’t count toward the ratings. Secondly, the highest rated episode of the second season was still down -52% compared to the highest rated first season episode. On average, less than 300,000 viewers were watching the season live, and only around 600,000 were doing so via DVR. The Expanse wasn’t doing much better than that when SyFy canceled it. So, the writing was on the Happy!’s blood-stained wall.
Thus, it is with no real surprise that I greet the following THR headline:
Of course, the vast majority of you probably haven’t watched a single second of Happy!’s second season because it isn’t on Netflix yet. I don’t blame you. That’s where I binged the first season…
…and if we’re lucky it might be where we binge a hypothetical third season.
That’s right – Netflix just might bring back another show from the dead. According to the THR article:
Both series will be shopped by their respective studios. Sources say Happy, produced by Universal Content Productions, had a lot of fans in-house [at SyFy] and the cancellation was a tough decision to make, but the show’s ratings made bringing it back impossible. The drama, insiders note, already has a streaming deal with Netflix. The Christopher Meloni-led series about an ex-cop turned hitman who has an imaginary blue-winged horse (voiced by Patton Oswalt) has seen its first season perform well on the streamer, sources say. Happy is said to be the streamer’s top performing second-window drama — outside of You — with key male demos and teens.THR
Lesley Goldberg doesn’t come out and say it, but the implication is clear: Universal has an obvious first stop in its “please save our show” tour. Whether Netflix will bite is another matter entirely. Ever since making waves by saving Arrested Development, Netflix has waffled back and forth about whether it wants to be the home of TV’s orphaned children or a trusted source of truly original content, and the streamer is big enough that it now has several of its own originals with doomed “saved our show” campaigns (sorry, One Day at a Time, Santa Clarita Diet). In general, Netflix cares more about those programs which offer it an ownership stake (like Designated Survivor), but will occasionally step in to save shows it doesn’t own (like Lucifer).
It remains to be seen if Happy! fans care enough or if there simply are enough of them to launch an effective social media campaign ala the Lucifer fans. Having now finished the second season, I can verify that the show as it currently exists does not end with a considerable degree of closure. While not an outright cliffhanger, the season 2 finale tees up multiple new storylines for next season, with Goldblum’s mysterious cloud promising “shits about to get real dark.”
How much darker could Happy! possibly get? We might never find out. In truth, the show has already outlived its source material. Grant Morrison’s graphic novel never got a sequel. His story ends with Nick Sax saving his daughter from the Santa Claus killer, and while Morrison co-developed the show and co-wrote two of the first season episodes he only returned to co-write the second season premiere. The rest was left to showrunner Patrick McManus and his writing staff and executive producer Brian Taylor.
The result is shit got super weird in season 2 – as in an-ancient-demon-plots-to-bring-a-fleet-of-faceless-jelly-creatures-into-the-world weird. That level of oddity is kind of Happy!’s calling card, but this time it wasn’t always for the better, particularly as the series seemed to lose track of its central relationship – Nick and his daughter’s former imaginary friend, Happy the Singing Horse. Entire episodes went by without them sharing the screen together, with Happy shown to be going through a teen rebellion stage before several unresolved hints were dropped that Happy might not be an imaginary friend at all. He might be something far more magical than that.
However, the central appeal of Happy! has always been Christopher Meloni’s delightfully unhinged performance, and watching him actually function as the sanest voice in the room throughout much of the second season was an odd delight. This was his “just when I think I’m out…” season, but it’s still Nick Sax. He does decimate a banquet hall full of retired Nazis at one point, and then later stands in a hospital hallway and watches in disbelief as an orgy between patient and caregiver magically breaks out.
Because that’s just what you want from Happy!, one of the crazier comic book adaptations to ever hit the small screen. With any luck, Netflix will order up another hit of that sweet, sweet crazy.