Based off of the comic book series by New York Times best-selling author Grant Morrison and artist Darick Robertson, “Happy!” is anything but. Syfy’s newest comedy-crime drama is far from joyful. It’s jam-packed with uncomfortable amounts of blood, violence, kidnapping and badass fist fights. The comedy follows the life of alcoholic ex-cop turned hitman, Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni, “Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later”), who can see Happy — the imaginary friend of a little girl named Hailey (Bryce Lorenzo, “Orange Is the New Black”).
While the plot is rather random and curious, the show keeps up with it at a good pace. There are a lot of moving parts that don’t necessarily seem to fit. For example, Hailey is kidnapped by this empirically creepy man dressed as Santa. He puts her in a box (so scary), and her flying unicorn imaginary friend (Happy) escapes and finds Nick. There is no context given as to why Nick is the only person who can see and talk to Happy (which actually leads to some pretty funny yet concerning moments when Nick appears to be talking to himself). Happy seems to believe Nick is the only person that can save Hailey — but why?
Nick’s cynicism and bluntness adds laughter to serious and violent scenes. A former detective, there is no explanation as to why he fell from upholding the law to breaking it. He kills seven people alone in the first episode, without hesitation, and appears to get some twisted satisfaction from it. In one scene, he uses a fire extinguisher to bash a guy’s skull in. He’s an old, jaded man — never clean-shaven or wearing clean clothes — whose sarcasm and bitterness ironically elevate the gravity of the show into comedy.
There is another plot working behind the main story of team Happy and Nick. There appears to be some important password to something a mobster told Nick before Nick shot him. This coveted password gets Nick tortured by a perverted, sadistic dude named Smoothie (Patrick Fischler, “Dice”), interrogated by his past stubborn mentee, Meredith McCarthy (Lili Mirojnick, “Beerfest”) and eventually forces him to escape the hospital, causing another high intensity chase. There is too much confusion surrounding what this password is: Why do both the cops and the mob want it? What is it for? And what has Nick got to do with it?
Across the board, the acting is strong — especially by Meloni. His performance clearly and successfully portrays the dynamic nature of Nick’s character. While the plot itself isn’t my kind of thing, the multidimensional layers of the main characters kept me engaged. Meredith is desperately trying to intimidate and assert her dominance over Nick, but cannot get through to him. His shield of indifference and his perception of her as his past subordinate complicate the relationship, as she is an up-and-coming detective trying to prove herself while cracking down on the man she idolized.
Not going to lie, there were many “what the hell” moments. Expect to get hit with random and weird scenes, like that of a man in a giant squid costume getting paid a visit by a hooker. The pace of the show also leads to this randomness. It cuts from scene to scene quickly, which some may like. However, to me, it felt too rushed and messy.
Overall, this crazy and strange T.V. show still proves to be entertaining and has given me a newfound appreciation for Meloni. His talent and versatility as an actor holds the show together. I hope he decides to join Happy officially and save poor Hailey.