Is Elisha Cuthbert's 'Happy Endings' the Next 'Friends'?

The new ABC sitcom (premiering April 13) has a similar premise and a sexy cast -- but can it duplicate the Friends magic?

ABC's Happy Endings (premiering Wednesday, April 13, 9:30 p.m. ET) so wants to be the next Friends. After all, it's about a group of pals -- three men, three women -- who share the ups and downs of urban life. Their theme song may not feature the lyric, "Ill be there for you," but that's the vibe implied.

All that's true. This is a rom-com just like Friends. But look just a smidge closer, and you'll see some differences. Two members of the group, Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Scrubs' Eliza Coupe), are an interracial couple. Two of them, Alex (24's Elisha Cuthbert) and Jane (SNL's Casey Wilson), are sisters. And one, Max (Adam Pally), is a non-stereotypical (read: pudgy) gay guy. With the Friends gang, it was easy to picture these people coming together naturally. This motley crew? Not so easy to picture.

The opening premise: Alex leaves Dave (FlashForward's Zachary Knighton), another member of their circle, at the altar. The split naturally affects the group's dynamic, and each friend has to figure out how to navigate the tension moving forward. Cuthbert knew the show's success would rest on the chemistry among the six actors and the believability of their friendships. "I made sure to get everyone together," Cuthbert tells "We made sure we did things to connect on a level outside of set and read-throughs and the chaos of putting the pilot together."

Did her efforts work? The show has received mixed reviews so far, but better, at least, than some other Friends-ly rom-coms, like NBC's Perfect Couples and Fox's Traffic Light. TV Guide's Matt Roush admitted that the shock waves from Alex's betrayal "provide some modest comedy." But overall, he writes, "None of them act or talk like actual people, dropping the whole 'runaway bride' set-up pretty quickly -- which probably makes sense, because we had nothing invested in these people prior to that event and it's hard to care about what happens to them after."

Don't write Happy Endings off just yet, however,. Other reviewers, including Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker, think the show has potential. "After seeing four episodes of the newest pal-com, Happy Endings, I'd have to say it's... not bad at all," Tucker writes. Okay, so that's not exactly a ringing endorsement -- but he goes on to say that "the frenzied pace, barrage of jokes, and quick cutting of Endings make Friends look, in retrospect, like a leisurely chatfest. These days, getting drunk and blabbing have replaced getting caffeine-buzzed and dispensing love-life advice at Central Perk."

If that ends up appealing to viewers, Happy Endings could simply be at its beautiful beginning.

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