The episode opens to the gang hanging out at a diner discussing the cheesiness of rom coms. Max says that’s the way it’s gotta be. No really, the new rom com coming out he wants to see is That’s The Way It’s Gotta Be. Penny pulls out a sweater and asks who left it at her house, and both Jane and Max claim the sweater is hers/his (boyfriend slouchy on Jane, and slim and tight-fitting on Max). Jane and Max, naturally, begin wrestling with each other for it and tearing out the front door with Jane yelling, “Get back here, you gay!” Penny and Dave jump up to watch the fight, leaving Brad and Alex alone at the table. You guessed it—two characters that have not yet had a plotline together are about to be thrust together for some awkwardness with a side of bonding.
Outside, Jane and Max are still fighting over the sweater. Penny then wins joke of the year by saying, “You guys are so vain. You probably think this sweater’s about you.” This inspires Jane and Max with a solution to their fight—whoever is the least vain gets the sweater. Then a tall drink of cashmere (Jane’s description) walks up, saying hi to Dave. Penny insists Dave introduce his mysterious friend to them, and Dave vaguely introduces the man as, “Richard, my work friend…colleague…who I know from camp. The war. Dance class.” Once Richard walks off, Dave admits Richard is his therapist and the group lets out a sigh of relief that Dave isn’t actually taking a dance class. Penny tells him therapy is nothing to be ashamed of, and that she still sees her child psychologist, which was probably an inevitable plotline for Penny.
Brad later recounts to Jane the super awkward breakfast he was left to have with Alex when everyone else bailed. Apparently, Brad’s voice gets hilariously high-pitched when he’s nervous, so his and Alex’s conversation basically sounded like a recording of Alvin and the Chipmunks making small talk. Jane insists he should become friends with Alex since they’re family now, so Brad reluctantly sets up a lunch date.
In lieu of throwing acid in each other’s faces or getting face tattoos à la Kat Von Tyson or Mike Von D (I mean, isn’t that how you guys settle arguments?), Max and Jane decide the only way to determine who is the least vain is to choose hideous outfits for each other to wear—whoever wears the outfit the longest wins. Meanwhile, in Dave’s therapy session, Richard asks for Penny’s number, which is totally appropriate because he asked Dave right outside his office door and not inside his therapist office. Obviously.
Alex and Brad meet up for Scheduled Bonding Time, and despite their riveting conversation about stamp prices, they’re both obviously not feeling it. They both get the best out-calls ever from Max claiming a meteor’s about to hit earth (I will probably be using this excuse all the time now). Brad and Alex realize they both asked Max to be their out-call, and yet, they can’t seem to even bond over that and still find nothing to talk about, except for Alex asking if hip hop and rap are the same thing.
Penny tells Dave that Rick asked her out and she said yes, despite his casual name being Rick Rickman, which is the worst. Apparently Richard tracked Penny down at her work, which suddenly clears up why he kept asking Dave some specific personal questions about Penny during their sessions. (He has the worst name and is also the worst psychiatrist. As a psychology major, I judge him.) Because Penny is probably only a few bad dates away from starring in her own Lifetime movie, she is flattered that Dr. Rick is totally stalking her, and she wonders what you wear to a stalking. “Stockings? No, that’s too on-the-nose.”
The big reveal of Max and Jane’s I’m Less Vain Than You outfits is pretty great. Max is dressed in a white Princess Diana t-shirt, white suspenders, super tight white pants, white sparkly belt, white shoes, and a white bucket hat; making him look not unlike a tacky, poorly dressed Droog. Jane is in full decade-defying mom garb—peach turtleneck, animal applique vest, high-waisted baggy jeans, yellow belt, a terrible blonde wig, and huge sunglasses.
Dave feigns hanging out with Alex so that he can lie in wait for Penny to get home from her date with Rick. When she gets back, Dave pounces and forbids her from dating Rick, because he’s his therapist and it’s weird. Penny, as instructed by her child psychologist, refused to be intimidated and gets assertive with Dave and tells him that she can date Rick if she wants to. Even though his name is Rick Rickman, which is the worst.
Brad pretends to be going into a work meeting so he can sneak off to see That’s The Way It’s Gotta Be, only to be caught by Alex who has also “snuck off” from working at her store (that sometimes has customers between 10 and 5) to indulge in some rom com time. Brad initially fakes walking into the wrong theater, “What? Wait, what theater is this? I thought this was the Murder Death Forced Explosion Film for Men. Full beards. Ample chest hair.” But the jig is up and wouldn’t you know it, we have some spontaneous bonding time as Brad and Alex both gush about their secret love for rom coms—Brad even admits to going to Rom Com Con (Is this a real thing? Where do I sign up?).
Max and Jane’s War of the Outfits has reached a stalemate, with both firing great insults at each other; Jane to Max: “You look like Jamiroquai before Labor Day,” and Max to Jane: “You look just like Carol Brady right before she was arrested for molesting Bobby.” Jane thinks of the one thing that could potentially make them both crack—calling 911 with a fake fire emergency so that hot Chicago firemen will come and see them in their ridiculous outfits, possibly making them too embarrassed to keep wearing the outfits (they both have Hot Chicago Firemen calendars, after all). The firemen arrive yelling, “Where’s the fire??” with Jane and Max waiting seductively in their underwear and Jane answers, “Right here, boys.” Max disappointedly points out, “Jane, I thought we agreed to say in our pants. The fire is in our pants.” And then they point at their pants. It’s the best.
While Brad and Alex are sobbing into their hot dogs and Max and Jane are sexually harassing firefighters, Dave barges in on Penny and Rick’s second date at a restaurant. Although the date was going rom com perfect (they cut from a girl’s sleeve catching on fire in That’s The Way It’s Gotta Be to Penny’s own sleeve on fire), Dave ruins things by showing up on a “date” (read: mild kidnapping) with Penny’s child psychologist, Roz. Each headcase (it’s ok, I’m a psych major, I can call them that) talks to his/her respect therapist, and both therapists conclude that Penny and Dave have unresolved feelings for each other and that’s why this whole incident is blowing up.
Brad and Alex walk out of their movie and ooze rom-com-aftermath-gushiness, because how romantic was that fountain at the end?? Alex wishes things like that happened to her, and Brad agrees, “I would die! I. would. DIE.” We cut to Penny’s real-life rom com in action as she and Dave come up on a fountain. There are no admissions of eternal love, but the two do have a cute little sequence and walk back home. Could they be each other’s new flame?? Speaking of fires…(that was a master class in segues, y’all) Max and Jane decide to surrender and burn their hideous outfits and resort to once again chasing after each other for the sweater. Guys, it’s really not even that great of a sweater.
Watch new episodes of Happy Endings on Wednesdays on ABC at 9:30/8:30c. Next week’s episode on Jan. 11 is a new episode entitled “Meet the Parrots.”