and capable of advancing an entertaining plot, the cast comes
across as organic and relatable, and Rebecca employs just the right
amount of self-deprecation to make her a character worth rooting
for, despite her frequent cringe-inducing choices. But the show’s
true success, the one that merits the most critical acclaim, is the
witty-yet-powerful dialogue constructed to explore the ways in
which the quest for happiness goes unfulfilled when that
exploration is based upon ill-conceived notions of what it means
to be happy.
In Happy Objects, Sarah Ahmed invites us to understand
happiness as a feeling or state of being that “turns us towards
objects” (29). By this standard, she writes “to be made happy by
this or that is to recognize that happiness starts from somewhere
other than the subject who may use the word to describe a
situation” (Ahmed 30). This certainly seems to be the case for
Rebecca, who turns toward objects (Josh, West Covina) as means
by which she hopes to obtain happiness. The show opens with
Rebecca turning down an offer to be made junior partner at the
prestigious law firm where she works. In pondering the
possibilities that will inevitably follow the acceptance of such a
position, Rebecca takes a breather outside her office and notices a
butter advertisement that begs her consideration of the question,
“When was the last time you were truly happy?” In response, she
seeks support from two sources: prayers to a divine being she may
or may not actually believe in and her anti-anxiety medication. The
combination of such a profound question and a subsequent run-in
with ex-boyfriend Josh piques Rebecca’s interest enough for her to
reevaluate her life in a way that necessitates packing up all of her
belongings to follow him to West Covina, California a place in
which, he claims, everyone is happy. Plus, as noted in the pilot
episode, it’s “only two hours from the beach!” Rebecca begins to
view this pursuit of her old flame as the solution to the depression
24
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