Casey Wilson, one-sixth of the cast of ABC's unlucky-in-prime-time "Happy Endings," was in between shots on the show's Paramount lot last December when she started talking that charming yet depressing "our show is on the brink of cancellation and I'm not naive about it" talk.
"I think we are the little show that could. I don't know of any other comedy that's premiered in April at 10 o’clock," she said, referring to the show's unusual (and seemingly unsupportive) launch as a mid-season replacement in 2011. "So the fact that we survived is amazing. Wait. I want to make clear that I know our show is not some monster hit now. We're a very petite hit. Miniature hit? Tiny survivor? Help me."
To think, all that mindful chatter was before ABC decided to move the beleaguered wacky comedy yet again, this time to Friday nights -- long regarded as a dumping ground for struggling series.
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The low-rated program, which centers on a group of six friends who hang out a lot (meeting the minimum quota for comparisons to that other, more wildly successful sitcom about a group of six friends), managed to sneak past the "cancel" police earlier this year while its former Wednesday night partner, "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23," got put away.
"Happy Endings" will make its debut in its new time slot on Friday night.
The 32-year-old actress, who plays butterfingered girlie girl Penny Hartz, tries to see the silver lining in all the hiccups that have plagued the third-season comedy.
"There's a creative freedom with being under the radar," she said. "But I guess if you're too under the radar, you get canceled? So we're going to have a ton of freedom when I turn this thing into a webisode when ABC pulls the plug. It will probably be performed in my apartment. I'll invite all three of our viewers over for a live show every week."
The joke might be more straight-faced than Wilson would like -- especially considering that the network recently released a promo telling fans they could "save 'Happy Endings'" by watching it on its new night.
Its hard-core viewers have come to admire the fast-paced nature of the dialogue and daffy antics of the group -- whether it be consuming a foreign NyQuil knockoff to avoid texting guys or partaking in scavenger hunts that involve racing through the streets of Chicago in shopping carts. But is their dedication enough to save the show?
"Look, there is a group of people out there that feel like they are part of our wacky group," Wilson, a pop-culture buff, said. "It's like when I watch 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' -- I imagine myself on the Ojai trip with them. People feel that way with us. And I don't want that to end."
Not that Wilson leads a totally empty life when she's not playing kooky Penny. "Some people become cat ladies," she said. "I'm the girl that writes feverishly in my tiny trailer on set."
Earlier this year, she and writing partner June Raphael premiered their road-trip comedy "Ass Backwards" at Sundance. The duo, who met at a clown class at New York University, had previously co-wrote the romantic comedy "Bride Wars."
And should "Happy Endings" see its lifespan cut short, Wilson could still be part of the ABC family. She and Raphael are working on a comedy for the network called "The Housewives," about a group of three female friends set in the 1950s (the multi-camera comedy has a pilot commitment).
Wilson said that although she had never planned on being a writer, she's come to develop a penchant for it as a diversion from the pressures of acting.
Before "Happy Endings," Wilson was a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" for two seasons before being dropped from the cast. She described the experience as "not the right fit."
"You had to fight for air time," she said. "It was definitely a learning experience. The 'Happy Endings' type of ensemble is more my style. It has been such a dream."
A dream she hopes not to wake from.
"To be fair, we never really were launched with any publicity, so we've always suffered from that. But I am so grateful to ABC for keeping us on. There have been times where they could have canceled us. We're kind of like a cockroach that won't die. Let's hope."
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