Pilot Perception: Happyland

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Happyland, MTV in the U.S. and Canada, Fridays at 8:30/7:30c

The Pedigree: Happyland was created and written by Ben Epstein (Daddy’s Girls), who executive produces with Neil Maren and Craig Zadan (Smash). The pilot was directed by Ryan Shiraki (Awkward).

The Cast & How You Know Them: The show stars Bianca Santos (The Fosters), Camille Guaty (The Vampire Diaries), Shane Harper (Awkward), Katherine McNamara (Kickin’ It), Cameron Moulene (Raising Hope), and Ryan Rottman (The Lying Game).

The Premise: Happyland is a dramedy about the teens (and some of the adults) working at a popular amusement park. Main character Lucy has basically grown up in Happyland, as her mother has worked there all her life, and she just wants to get out. But then the president of the company and his hot sons show up! Intrigue!

A Taste:

What Works: Protagonist Lucy was immediately engaging, and I’m interested in her relationships with the people around her, especially her mother. The amusement park setting is refreshingly different and provides some fun (though not necessarily realistic) behind-the-scenes looks where most of us have just seen the facade. The writing was decent, some of the jokes were funny, and this was generally a good time.

What Doesn’t: A lot of characters were introduced quickly, and I’m still confused about exactly who some of them were and what their relationships are with everyone else. I assume that will become more clear as time goes on. I’m not particularly into any of the couples or potential couples yet, so if the show wants to go heavy on the romance, they need to get the audience invested.

Our Favorite Line: “This is my sister Lucy.” “Yep, the sister she gave birth to 17 years ago. Our family tree is mind-boggling.”

You Might Like This if you like workplace comedies with unusual settings mixed with soapy interpersonal drama.

If You’re Interested: Catch the pilot on the MTV site (Canadian site), or check your local listings for one of the several times they’ll be rerunning it this week. Then set your DVR for Tuesday at 11/10c.

(Photo courtesy of MTV.)

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