Follow TV Tropes


Series / The Exes

Go To
The Exes Title Card

The Exes was an American comedy television series starring Kristen Johnston, Donald Faison, Wayne Knight, David Alan Basche, and Kelly Stables. It aired on TV Land from 2011 to 2015.

Divorce attorney Holly (Kristen Johnston) introduces her client, Stuart (David Alan Basche), to his new roommates: two other divorced men who share an apartment that Holly owns. At first Phil (Donald Faison) and Haskell (Wayne Knight) have reservations about Stuart moving in, but Holly is right across the hall to help when things start to go downhill.

This series has the examples of:

  • Really Gets Around: Phil and Eden really get around... and finally to each other toward the end of season 3.
  • Artistic License – Biology: When Eden delivers her baby, the umbilical cord is non-existent.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: The very tall Holly and very petite Eden make for a rare female example.
  • Bow Chicka Wow Wow: Butchered by Holly in one episode.
    Phil: It's bow chicka wow wow and you just ruined it.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Literally Holly.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Haskell with "dust storm"
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: The marital therapist who Phil’s ex-wife was marrying cheated on her
  • Composite Character: Although from different sources, Haskell's qualities and behaviors are shared by both Dennis Nedry and Newman, both played by Wayne Knight.
  • The Couch: Haskell loves his couch almost as much as another sitcom personality.
  • Double Entendre: From 3x01:
    (Regarding Holly's broken vibrator)
    Haskell: If we rebuild it, she will come.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Not a very pretty one, either. When Haskell is meeting Holly at a lesbian bar, the women mistake him for a butch lesbian. He rolls with it. Twice.
  • Ensemble Cast: It's hard to tell if this is a Donald Faison vehicle or a Kristen Johnston vehicle, but the whole cast seems to take the wheel at times, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Evil Twin: Sabrina to Julie.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: They're all exes.'
  • Fiction Business Savvy: Haskell comes up with the idea for a phone app for using people's toilets for money. It's called Pee-Harmony. Stewart's sister Nikki decides to invest in it after using it as a result of being caught short. Eventually it's sold for a huge amount of money.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Stuart (eclectic), Holly (melancholic/phlegmatic), Haskill (phlegmatic/sanguine), Phil and Eden (sanguine/choleric), and Nikki (choleric/melancholic).
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Averted in Holly's case, but played-with with the guys. Holly is a well-off partner in a legal firm and owns her apartment. She also owns the guys' apartment since she bought it before her engagement fell apart. She rents it to them and seems to be pretty flexible on the rent, even forgiving two months late rent if Phil will agree to go to a dinner in her stead. Phil and Stuart are both shown to have fairly lucrative jobs (agent/dentist, respectively) but are paying hefty amounts in alimony. The show never seems to explain exactly what Haskell does (he used to be a pro bowler), but it's obvious he now makes his money on the internet. If not for the alimony they're all paying, at least Stuart and Phil would be able to afford the apartment, maybe even Haskell if he still has some money stashed away.
  • Friends with Benefits: Phil tries to arrange this with Eden after she decides the two should go back to being friends.
  • Gag Penis: Stuart, to Holly's surprise.
  • Genre Savvy: When Haskell's ex-wife is in an auto accident and experiences memory loss, cue the following:
    Haskell: You know, I hear in situations like this, sometimes another bonk on the head will straighten things out. You got some kind of medical hammer lying around?
  • Gold Digger: Eden shows signs of this.
  • Happy Dance: The "no more alimony" dance.
    Phil: I don't got to pay no more!
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Eden during season 1, and if 3x14 is any indication, she may be returning to her old ways.
    Holly: Aren't you the same girl who licked tequila off a bar room floor?
    • Nikki tries to be this again after her divorce.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Arguably, Holly's relationship with the guys as well as the guys themselves.
  • Hidden Depths: Haskell is revealed to be a great ballroom dancer and used to be on the dive team.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every post-pilot episode is either named after a movie (like "A Little Romance" and "Starting Over") or has a name that's a play on a movie title (like "Lutz And The Real Girl" and "The Old Man And The Holly").
  • Lady Drunk: If Haskell isn't exaggerating, his mother fits this trope.
  • Lazy Bum: Haskell
    Haskell: We Lutz-es are a sedentary people. I was 9 before I saw my grandfather stand.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Sabrina
  • Mistaken for Gay: In a scheme to impress her sister, Holly lets Jill assume Eden is her partner and that the baby is theirs.
    • Subverted. Stuart thinks Chuck is hitting on him, but is convinced otherwise by Phil. Turns out he was right all along.
    • To patch things up with Stuart and his assistant Deanna (whom Phil slept with), Phil pretends to be gay. Deanna thinks Phil and Stuart are a couple.
    • Haskell again in season 3. Of course he rolls with it.
  • My Beloved Smother: How Haskell's various anecdotes about his mother portray her.
  • No Brows: Holly in 3x14
  • Online Alias: Haskell
    Haskell: Google Dr. Rhett McLellan...
    Stuart: That's you in a lab coat.
    Haskell: Indeed, and yes, that is the Space Shuttle in the background.
  • Orgasmically Delicious Haskell reacts to that to one of Stewart's breakfasts. However later his impression of a woman faking orgasm is exactly the same. He explains that he fakes food-gasm "once in a blue moon" exactly the same claim that Eden claimed about faking with Phil.
  • Raging Stiffie: To calm himself down before speaking at a funeral, Phil takes what he thought were Stuart's valium. The "V" actually stood for Viagra, but he didn't find out until he was already at said funeral.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Kelly Stables's pregnancy was written into the show during season 2.
  • Reverse Psychology: How Phil manipulates his boss.
    Phil: Your dad would've fired me on the spot.
    Grant: See you on Monday.
  • Servile Snarker: Amelia, the guy's cleaning lady for one episode, much to Haskell's enjoyment.
  • Sex with the Ex: Haskell doesn't try very hard to resist his ex-wife's advances.
  • Ship Tease: Phil and Eden
  • Shout-Out: In one episode, Zach Braff guest stars as a client of Phil's. When Phil asks how long they've known each other, Braff's character says that when they met, Phil was just a goofy intern.
    Phil:When I was in high school, I was clueless.
  • Sleeping with the Boss Holly suspects this is the reason her boss is giving Eden expensive gifts. Averted actually she's acting as a pregnancy surrogate for him and his wife.
  • Standardized Sitcom Housing: Haven't we seen that apartment/neighbor apartment layout before? The bar's layout and general location look awfully familiar as well.
  • Status Quo Is God: Phil and Eden become a couple for several episodes before going back to being friends.
  • Team Mom: Holly, who also borders on team little-sister.
  • The Stinger: Most episodes as the credits roll at the bottom.
  • Truncated Theme Tune: The opening theme was introduced in the beginning of season 2 and truncated about halfway through the same season.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Haskell and his ex, Margo.
  • The Unfair Sex: Phil’s being the womanizer comes across as this from time to time for example his ex-wife cheated on him (It was mentioned once about how he had forgiven her for it) yet got everything plus a hefty alimony. Phil was never shown as being bitter about this until he caught her in a fancy restaurant ordering champagne and lobster while he can’t pay his rent and is forced to eat fish sticks. Later she was about to cheat on her current fiancée with Phil who stopped it after she told him. When Phil told her that she caught her fiancé cheating on her she called him a cheating slime bag and went to make him pay.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: In universe. Holly's "donor eyebrows" come loose and go every which way.
  • Wire Dilemma: When trying to repair Holly's broken vibrator, Haskell is confronted with the red wire, blue wire dilemma.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Haskell thinks Sabrina is pretending to be her own good twin. She is crazy enough to do that, but turns out she wasn't.