January 11, 2012 3:19pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'Happy Endings' Showrunners 'Exploring' Penny and Dave Dynamic
The final moments of last week's Happy Endings not-so-subtly implied that two previously platonic characters are heading towards something more.
A seemingly innocent moment between Penny (Casey Wilson) and Dave (Zach Knighton) was paralleled by scenes from a fake romantic comedy within the series, setting an arc in motion that may not have immediately pleased some fans.
"Some people repeated the line Penny says to Dave... 'No, no, no, no, just no,'" EP Jonathan Groff told The Hollywood Reporter of his quick survey of Twitter after the episode. "I kind of love that it makes people mad. We're not giving anything away. We're mostly just exploring some stuff."
And that exploration will take a lot of time. "I don't think people should freak out that we're radically going to throw over Penny's character or Dave's or Penny's relationship with Alex," said Groff. "We just like having the reality that in a group of friends everything at some point get considered from a different angle."
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Happy Endings creator and fellow EP David Caspe says that there will be something on the romantic front during the Jan. 11 episode, which finds Megan Mullally reprising her role as Penny's mother and now dating Dave's dad (played by Michael McKean).
"You'll see something," said Caspe, "in a way that's hopefully unexpected."
ABC recently confirmed that Happy Endings would conclude its second season in three months' time, airing the bulk of its remaining episodes without interruption and leaving its post-Modern Family for the April 11 debut of Don't Trust the B**** in Apt. 23.
Caspe and Graff made it clear that the relatively early season finale doesn't affect production or the series' full 22-episode order -- and, in fact, they think sharing the network's most advantageous time slot is a good idea.
"They should use that launch pad for every new show," said Groff. "It makes sense. It's basically when we premiered last season. It was just enough time to see that we had a heartbeat and then for some reason they crazily stuck with us."
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This is not the extent of their humility when addressing their series. Happy Endings, by most standards, has enjoyed an expectation-besting sophomore season, improving its rating in the coveted viewers 18-49 and surpassing most other ABC series in the target demographic.
Most deem a third season pickup likely, but any mention of that has not influenced Caspe and Groff's plans for series.
"It's affected my upper body strength," said Groff. "Whenever anybody mentions a third season, we are forced to drop and do push-ups. We are very superstitious."
"We're moving the characters towards the end of this 22 where maybe we'll set up something interesting if we're lucky enough to get more," Caspe told THR, "but we never feel like we can relax."