One of our writers, Liam, is a grown man who enjoyed a TV series about a flying blue unicorn – and he doesn’t care who knows it.
It’s very rare for me to go into a show knowing so little about what to expect – especially in the modern age where trailers are basically one big spoiler.
I was expecting to see a show about a grizzled ex-cop PI who violently solves crimes with an imaginary friend who represents his id or ego or superego or whatever.
This TV series is actually about an ex-cop contract killer who solves one particular crime with the help of a multi-phasic spirit entity who comes from another dimension.
What does that really mean?
The ‘Happy’ of the title is an Imaginary Friend who happens to be a winged blue unicorn. In the lore of the show, ‘Imaginary Friend’ is a job which fairyland characters can have (and also lose).
When his friend/ward, Hailey, is kidnapped by a mentally unstable person in a Santa suit, Happy goes to find help in the form of Hailey’s estranged father, Nick Sax – a washed-up ex-cop who now works as a hitman.
Under normal circumstances, I’d consider the previous two paragraphs to be spoilers, but here they’re merely the set-up. This story has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster made out of Möbius strips.
I will say, however, that the interplay between Nick and Happy is a predictably joyous mix of ‘bitter old man’ and ‘the naivete of childhood’.
That sounds kind of violent. Is it violent?
The thing I hate about most shows is how they glorify violence. This show doesn’t do that. In fact, it rarely even shows violent events happening. It shows the aftermath, but most of the violence takes place offscreen – even if only by a matter of centimetres.
It’s gory, but not in the ‘monsters with chainsaws’ sense.
It’s artfully gory – like the kind of thing that H.R. Giger would have made if he weren’t so obsessed with genitals.
For instance, when Nick is, shall we say, ‘sexually assaulted with prejudice’ in one of the later episodes, it’s kind of played for laughs – but only kind of.
How they managed to perfectly achieve this tonal balance between disgust and fascination is, frankly, beyond my understanding.
Which is fine, because it’s not like I’m writing an article about it or anything.
Oh wait, yes I am.
The show itself is made for the Syfy network and made it’s way to Netflix. Essentially, it’s the TV version of one of Morrison’s 4-issue limited-series comics which was also called ‘Happy!’. I suspect that the reason for the perfect tonal balance might be because Grant Morrison is one of the executive producers, which I take to mean that he has a certain level of control over his work here.
Yeah, maybe I should have opened the article with that little factoid. You’ll live.
Unlike most of the people that cross Nick.
Nick leaves a bigger trail of corpses than all the Tarantino movies combined. Uh – probably. I’m not going to watch them all again to find out.
Nick is not a nice guy. He’s so self-destructive that everything he touches turns to kale, whether he wants it to or not. Wait, I meant ‘turns to crap’. I always get those two confused for some reason.
Point is, Nick’s very creative in the field of improvised weaponry.
He’s the Jackie Chan of violence, or perhaps the Steven Seagal of ‘not being fat’.
It’s okay – I’m no string bean myself, I can say that.
I was impressed by the acting.
Christopher Meloni does a fantastic job as Nick.
Patton Oswalt, as always, turns in a marvellous performance.
But the villains. Oh, those villains!
They say that a story’s only as good as the villain, and I think these villains are great. This show has at least four major villains (it’s complicated), all of whom make sense in their roles and don’t crowd the screen.
Tonewise, they’re all pitched somewhere between moustache-twirling pantomime villains and something from Frank Miller’s Sin City, and I loved every second they were onscreen.
Except for maybe that Bug thing, that was just…well, let’s just say I’m glad it didn’t go the way I thought it would.
Who should watch Happy?
Just because there’s a blue flying unicorn doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for kids. Teens, probably. Kids, no.
Also, ultra-squeamish people probably shouldn’t watch this.
Having said that: I’m normal-squeamish (totally a phrase) person and I friggin’ loved it!
They should watch this.
Like, right now.
Stop reading this and GO AND WATCH HAPPY! RIGHT NOW.
I mean, unless you have a thing about Santa costumes. Maybe don’t watch it then.
if you’re interested in comics that get turned into TV shows, then you might enjoy this article about the upcoming Teen Titans series, or perhaps this article about the upcoming Wonder Woman movie.