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Damon Wayans Jr.
What hit in 2011: "Happy Endings"
What's next: A full second season of "Happy Endings"
Lowdown: "Happy Endings" may have started out like so many other wan "Friends" wannabes with six buddies bantering about love, life and clown sex around an extra-large restaurant table, but what has ultimately made the show more than a rehash is a nimble cast capable of embracing the ridiculous without tipping into caricature. Though initially Wayans Jr.'s character Brad was more of a sounding board for wackier characters than a fully realized character, he has evolved into an arch voice of reason as well as an affably offbeat match for his neurotic wife Jane (Eliza Coupe). It's a big step for Wayans Jr., who seemed destined to be overshadowed by other, more successful members of his extended family. In "Happy Endings" he's proven he not only inherited a knack for comedy, but can invest a character with a humanity largely absent from his elders' over-the-top performances. With "Happy Endings" briefly on the bubble, Wayans Jr. signed on for the "New Girl" pilot and even though he wasn't sticking with the Zooey Deschanel comedy, the show didn't recast and features him heavily in promotion, even as he was heading back to ABC after one episode. A happy ending, indeed.
Photo Credit: ABC