Happy Endings + The Real World = awesome

ABC’s comedy Happy Endings parodied The Real World on last Tuesday’s episode, with the storyline revolving around Damon Wayans and Adam Pally’s characters appearing on The Real World Sacramento, a season that was never broadcast season because one of the cast members burned down the show’s firehouse home.

Happy Endings has been really hit or miss this season after a strong second season, and it didn’t exactly offer biting satire of the MTV series. But what it did do was what Happy Endings does well: capture nostalgia for those of us who grew up in the 1990s.

The footage it included was mostly improvised, and perhaps because of that, more Happy Endings than Real World, but still with a lot of subtle references, some of which were so specific and narrow they didn’t make the show. In an interview, Adam Pally said,

“I know a lot of Real World specifics, unfortunately, so it was fun to pretend that at one time I was on it. I was definitely singing on set that whole week ‘Come on, be my baby tonight,’ which, if you don’t remember, is the song that cast member David from Real World: New Orleans sang on the ice when he was supposed to sing the national anthem. That’s a deep cut. I’m not embarrassed.”

More than parody, though, The Real World segments serve as an origin story for some of the characters’ relationships, so it worked well and made for a funny episode, especially with Max’s ignorant insistence that he was the first person to come out as gay on a reality show, and the characters constantly blaming the editing for what they said on screen.

This clip starts where The Real World parody does, and it continues throughout the episode; absolutely don’t miss the tag at the end of the episode, an argument between Max and Brad that is the most MTVish thing in the episode–and also funny because it seems like the actors are cracking themselves up.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.