Editor’s Note: Remember when I said today’s post was going to be about shopping? Well. Something more interesting happened, so we can shop another time. For today, enjoy this look at a new, Disney-adjacent television show.
Welcome to Happyland! It’s not Disneyland. Heck, it’s not even Universal. But it is the amusement park at the center of MTV’s new teen dramedy. One of the stars referred to the premise as, “Sex, drugs and roller coasters,” but I’m not sure that’s really right …
Ricky Raccoon is our Mickey analogue, and the face and furry characters (and their handlers) at Happyland make up the bulk of the main cast. The central player is Lucy, a high-strung character handler who dreams of working for an international relief agency in the vein of the Peace Corps. Her mom plays Princess Adrianna, Happyland’s version of a Cinderella, and she also happens to look about the same age as her daughter … and she acts about as old as she looks.
So Lucy’s a bit tough to like, her mom is far from a parental figure and Lucy’s friends aren’t much better. Her BFF Harper is drunk and slutty, and all of the male characters are basically wood planks with abs. In fact, they’re one of my biggest problems with the show: they’re all so Prince Charming-ish that it quickly became impossible for me to tell one tall, blonde frat bro from the other.
The one character I actually liked? Dirty Dave, a homeless man played by Josh Groban. Weird, right?
Actually, that’s not entirely true. I was totally digging Lucy’s budding relationship with Ian until it took a turn for the extremely unexpected. Spoiler Free Fact: I’ll be tuning back in to see how that situation resolves itself because it’s a pretty big twist.
In terms of how it performs as a behind-the-scenes drama … well, I don’t really know. I’ve never worked at Disney World! They shot the exterior stuff at Six Flags Magic Mountain, so it looks like a real amusement park. In interviews, the actors say over and over that they spent time talking with real theme park employees and that a lot of the crazy stories in the show come from real life … but somehow I can’t really imagine someone smoking out a Goofy costume. Maybe I’m being naïve, but I’m not buying it.
At the end of the day, there’s lots of talk of Happy Magic in Happyland, but it really seems to be a show about sad people with difficult lives who happen to live in a happy place. So maybe there’s something there we can all relate to. Like I said, I’ll be tuning in again, and if you want to catch the Pilot episode, it’s replaying on MTV through next Tuesday at various times.
If you check it out, let me know what you think!