TV Review: Showtime’s ‘Happyish’

In Happyish, Steve Coogan (Philomena), stepping in for the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, plays a 40-something advertising exec disillusioned with work and life. Kathryn Hahn (Parks and Recreation) plays his wife and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) plays his boss. The series, from author Shalom Auslander, premieres on Showtime Sunday at 9:30 p.m. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“The cast is phenomenal, Auslander clearly can write, and the best parts of Happyish are right there to be seen — just under all the monologue-mugging and stupid middle-finger posturing and f—-yous. But people can’t be expected to wait forever. There are too many other, better options. Happyish needs an editor — and fast.”
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

“Would Hoffman have been able to find some nuance and humanity in Thom that isn't there in the scripts, or would we have just wondered why on earth he chose this, of all shows, as his TV series debut? As it is, I'm left wondering why Showtime wanted to go forward with this after he died. Even if Auslander's too new to this to realize how sleepy and annoying Happyish is, his bosses should have known better.”
Alan Sepinwall, HitFix

“All told, the premiere and a subsequent episode play like a slightly less angst-ridden companion to HBO’s Togetherness, with a higher comedy quotient — though one that still leaves Shalom Auslander’s creation waffling somewhat charitably in the zone of ‘goodish.’”
Brian Lowry, Variety

“At its worst, Happyish feels like the mighty yawp of aging hipsters who are bitter for no good reason and weirdly out of touch with the way culture works. At its best, though, it’s like nothing else on TV.”
Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

“Auslander’s writing is both what elevates the show and holds it back. Watching it, you’ll laugh a lot, but you’ll also find yourself wanting to say, ‘Lighten up, dude.’ Happyish is ‘OK-ish,’ just but misses its shot at being great without an ‘ish.’”
David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“Ultimately, even if you think Thom has something to complain about, haven't we already heard those complaints ad nauseam? If Showtime or some other outlet wants to do a new comedy about a poor, smiling-through-their-pain, inner-city family — a Good Times sequel rather than Full House — sign me up. But a prosperous, middle-aged ad exec with a lovely wife and a bright, healthy child? Sorry, but if you want me to think his inability to find joy is worthy of my weekly time, you're going to have to do a lot better job of convincing me than Happyish does.”
Robert Bianco, USA Today (opens in new tab)

“Early on, Thom has the gall to bash Mad Men for glorifying a venal profession, and, on one level, it certainly does, but that series has been obsessively preoccupied with the pain that lies underneath America's illusion of can-do paradise. There's nothing like that beneath Happyish's opportunistic hood, as it's the TV equivalent of a rich, materialistic smartass who's obnoxiously insisting that they're sensitive inside.”
Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine