The program takes place in Van Nuys, and revolves around Jack Malloy and his estranged wife Jennifer, who just got seperated after 16 years of marriage. They have three children: Ryan, a not so bright teenage son; Tiffany, a beautiful teenage daughter; and Ross. During the first season, Ryan is 16, Tiffany is 15, and Ryan is 8. Jennifer's mother, Maureen Slatery, also lives with Jennifer and the kids. Jack, a salesman at Joe's Used Cars ("Mr. No"), works for Jennifer's father, and lives in a crummy apartment with Mr. Floppy, a stuffed bunny given to him by Ross, who talks to him.
Jack Malloy earns $40,000 a year, but only has $5 a day left after all his expenses ("Pilot"). During the first season he lives in apartment 13 of a very dingy apartment complex, but spends a lot of time at Jennie's to see the kids and do favors for Jennie. He is almost 40, misses his father, but neither knows nor cares if he is alive, and has no idea where is mother is ("The Descent of Man" / "Gift of the Magnovox"). During the Vietnam War, Jack served in the Air Force giving out shirts in Amarilo ("Jack's First Date"). Jack is very defensive about the fact that he played soccer during high school ("Don Juan de Van Nuys"). He missed the birth of one the kids because a Clipper's game went into overtime. He has played basketball at 10am on Saturday for the last six years. His teammates are Lefty, Righty, the Black Guy, Slimy, Sweaty, Fatty, and the Mail Guy (Amber's Father) ("Hoop Dreams"). Jack loves fish ("A Line in the Sand"), was an English major in college ("Girls Who Wear Glasses"), and is a Leo ("In the Stars").
Mr. Floppy is a stuffed rabbit given to him by Ross. He talks to Jack, and is the manifestation of Jack's alter ego. He is quite a colorful character, and is found of telling stories about when he lived in the toy bin. He used to hang with GI Joe, Barney, and the X-Men (says that Wolverine is a really fun guy) ("Zit Could Happen to You"). He grew up in the half-price toy bin, always feeling inferior to the full-retail price toys like Barney and those snotty 90210 dolls. When the Dylan doll got dropped in his bin, he thought he ruled it, until Floppy kicked him in the groin and had his way with the Kelly doll him ("Rocky IV"). He dated Barbie until GI Joe stole her from him. Then he "did it" with Skipper ("Making the Grade"). Mr. Floppy has been married six times: five times to dolls, and once, when he was really drunk, to the shoe in the Monopoly game. He tells Jack that he really could have been happy with the shoe ("Getting More Than Some"). He says that he ripped the head off of a stuffed bear at the toy factory in order to avoid being shipped to India ("Meter Maid").
During the second season, Mr. Floppy is obsessed with Drew Barrymore, and makes reference to wanted her almost every episode. He says he wants to buy the town that Kim Basinger owns and rule it with his queen Drew ("Leaving Van Nuys"). Mr. Floppy also reveals a violent streak. In "The Whiz Kid" he says it is a sad day when you can't hate in America anymore. He says that killing is what made America great, "we killed the Indians, we killed the English, we killed the French, we killed the Germans (not enough of them by the way)" ("The Rat").
Jennifer Malloy got to keep the house and custody of the kids. She has three dogs: Annie (the brown and white one), Emily (the all brown one), and Jasper (the tiny one). She has (had) a brother Jimmy, who's in his 32nd year at boarding school, and who never writes ("Gift of the Magnovox"). She is bitter that she did not attend her high school prom, and was never able to realize her dream of being a fasion designer ("The Great Depression" / "Hoop Dreams"). Her favorite flavor is potato ("Gift of the Magnovox"). Jennie went to college for two years ("Jack Writes Good"). She had to force Jack to go out with her ("Mr. No"), and when she found out she was pregnant, she picked him and hoped that the blood test panned out ("Honey, I Screwed Up the Kids for Life").
Tiffany Malloy is Jack and Jennifer's daughter. She is intelligent straight A student , who knows that she is God's gift to man, and intends to exploit that fact to marry, and then divorce a millionaire; her motto being: "I will only trade purity for financial security" ("Nikki Nite" Promo / "Daddy's Little Girl"). In the mean time she enjoys the power she has over the boys at school, and always uses it to her advantage. Her favorite color is green ("Nikki Nite" Promo). She is definately "daddy's little girl." Jack bends over backwards to do what she wants, and folds when she says she won't love him any more. In his mind, he still sees her as a little girl ("Daddy's Little Girl").
Tiffany is obsessed with her weight. Weighing herself always makes her happy ("Zit Could Happen to You"). She has gained a pound a year since she was twelve, and plans to be 100lbs when is 30 ("A Touch of Glass"). In "Girls Who Wear Glasses" she says she weighs 97lbs. She likes to use her looks for personal gain, and in "Angel Gone Bad" forms a business around them. For a double does of self-esteem she goes to the libary by way of the contruction site ("The Whiz Kid"). She is on the high school debate team and in "The Whiz Kid" she won 1st place in the state finals by solving world hunger.
She is on her way to developing her own psychological problems. Jack and Jennie were so proud of her when she was potty trained that they invited relatives over to watch her go to the bathroom. She still hears applause whenever she flushes. She would't play dodgeball in kindergarten, so her hands were tied behind her back, and the ball thrown at her. Now she screams when items as small as a pea are thrown at her ("Girls Who Wear Glasses").
Ryan Malloy is the eldest child. He is not very bright, and has little luck with women. His kiss with Cindy in the lunchroom is the longest relationship he has ever had ("Boxing Mr. Floppy"). He gets little respect from the rest of the family, and Jack always tells him to bottle up his emotions. He may have lot his virginity and more with a sado-masochistic cult member ("Daddy's Little Girl"). His stupidity is amazing: he wasn't potty trained until he was eight ("The Whiz Kid"), he wants to be a pro-baseball player, but he only bats 0.100 ("Making the Grade"), and he has to repeat his senior year of high school. He pretends to be the boyfriend of the lesbians at school in return for protection from bullies. In addition, sometimes they let him watch ("A Line in the Sand"). He has played basketball against Jack since he was little. Jack's only reason to live is knowing that he can beat him whenever he wants ("The Agony of Victory"). Ryan is a Virgo ("In the Stars"). He too is on his way to mental problems. When he was two, he ran over a cat with a tricycle. When learning to drive a car, he ran over another cat, and developed a new personality to blame it on ("Driving Me Crazy").
Ross Malloy is the youngest child. During the first season, very little is revealed about him. Starting with the second season, however, Ross emerges as the voice of responsibility and normality within the Malloy household. His birthday is December 13 ("A Touch of Glass"). He likes to bathe with the dogs ("Making the Grade"). He doesn't know what church is ("Getting More Than Some").
Maureen Slatery is Jennifer's mother. She is a pill-head, using prescriptions drugs for recreational purposes. In the past she was quite promiscuous, revealing her adventures in drug-outed rants. She is still married to her husband, who is Jack's boss at the used car lot. She came for a visit and never left ("Jack the Ripper"). Maureen hates Jack, who also hates her. Jack has never called her mom, which is one of the reasons she hates him ("Jack the Ripper"). She poisoned Snuffles, Jennifer's childhood cat, in an attempt to kill her husband, and ran over buttons, her puppy, because she couldn't see out of the back of the Chrysler. She may have also killed Jennifer's brother. ("Gift of the Magnovox"). It is clear that she is the reason that Jennifer is very domineering over Jack: she claims that her husband was the first man to buy a box of tampons ("The Descent of Man"). Maureen resents Jennie, and frequently makes comments about Jennie having a big head when she was born ("All About Jennie"), and for being born feet first ("A Touch of Glass"). She tried to give away Jennie when she was baby, but coyotes, Gypsies, and volcanoes all rejected her ("Girls Who Wear Glasses").
The Malloys own a Ford Taurus ("In the Stars"), license plate number 2MFE?67 ("Driving Me Crazy"). Their street address is 3022 Oak Avenue, Van Nuys, CA ("Mr. No"). In "Run" we learn that Jack and Jennifer were married in February, and that Ryan was born in May. Beer made Ryan and Tiffany, and vodka made Ross. Ryan was a mistake. ("Hot Wheels"). The Malloys like to watch The WB network, calling it the only network that the family can enjoy together. In "Making the Grade" they watch Kirk, and in "The Agony of Victory" Jack makes reference to Savannah.
Tiffany and Ryan attend Priddy High, founded in 1846. The principal is Eugene Dunst ("A Line in the Sand"). Teacher's we've seen are Miss Taylor (played by Jessica Hahn), who teaches Civics, and Mr. Dunn (played by Allan Trautman), who teaches English. The old Priddy High fight song used to be "Scalp 'Em, Burn 'Em, Spear 'Em in the Eye! We'ere all liquored up, we're Priddy High! Gooooo, Injuns!" The new politically correct version is "Love 'Em, Hug 'Em, Give 'Em Apple Pie! No matter what color they are, look 'em in the eye and say , We're all the same, it's what under the skin that counts. We're all humans, even the animals. We hope haven't offended any one. Save the dolphins, save the wahles. Save your bottles and cans for recycling. Gooooo Native Americans!" ("The Whiz Kid").
Tiffany eats lunch with her friends Amber Moss and Barry Walenstein. Amber's father, Ed Moss, is a mail carrier, who until "Hoop Dreams" had never been attacked by a dog, and was very proud of his legs ("Hoop Dreams"). Amber once slept with her math teacher to get a B. Barry is flamingly gay, and Tiffany gets her clothes from him, which he makes in Home Economics. Ryan has not figured out that Barry is gay ("Mistress Jennie"). Barry's parents don't know he is gay either. He shows his mother cosmetic tips to his mother, and watches football and looks at Playboy's with his father ("Mr. No" / "Leaving Van Nuys").
Other students include Beauregard "Beau" Scott, Chipper Colling, Cindy, Patty LeGurst (who fights with Tiffany in "A Line in the Sand"), Chelsea (who had sex with Ryan in "In the Stars"), Mike (who does that "thing" with his hair in "Honey, I Screwed Up the Kids for Life"), Stoney (who likes to give reports on Lou Goldstien, the man who let him into the strip club with out an ID), J.J. (one of the lesbians that protects Ryan), Angora, Dean Valentine, and Billy Emery. During the third season, Sable O'Brian transfers into the high school and becomes a threat to Tiffany's popularity.
It is originally not clear whether Mr. Floppy actually talks, or if it is all in Jack's head. It becomes quite clear during "The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall" that Mr. Floppy is just a delusion when Jack stuffs a sock in Mr. Floppy's mouth. Mr. Floppy looks at him and says with out using his mouth: "You can't shut me up. I'm in your mind!" The talking mop and pizza box in "Gift of the Magnovox" are also a dead give away. However in the "Run," we see Mr. Floppy talk while Jack is asleep. In "The Great Depression," Jack and Mr. Floppy record an answering machine message, but Mr. Floppy's voice doesn't record. He remarks, "Oh yeah, I forgot that I don't exist." In "The Pride of the Injuns" Jack videotapes Mr. Floppy, but when the tape is played back, Mr. Floppy is just sitting on the couch.
In "Mistress Jennie," Mr. Floppy becomes upset because he thinks that Jack is starting to talk to other inanimate objects, specifically the toaster and the telephone. Jack denies it, pointing out that one is supposed to talk into a telephone. Although later when he is at Jennifer's, he makes toast and keeps commenting on how nice a toaster she has, that it makes good toast, and doesn't talk back to him. He later agrees to help her if he can use the toaster whenever he wants.
Jack and Mr. Floppy have a very strange relationship. Mr. Floppy and Jack often behave as if they were a couple, with Mr. Floppy constantly referring to how he is being neglected and things that happened prior to "them." In more recent episodes, the Mr. Floppy has described himself as Jack's alter-ego. Mr. Floppy is not Jack's yes-man: he doesn't usually tell Jack what he wants to hear, but what Jack needs to hear. He exists to give Jack what Jack is not getting outing of his marriage with Jennie, but at the same time often treats Jack in the same way that Jennie does.
During the second season, we get a better picture of Jack's mental state. Apparently, he has a colorful history. When he was 16, he killed an emu at the zoo because it was giving him attitude, and a panda because it wouldn't dance for marshmellows ("Jack Writes Good"). At Disney Land he attacked Goofy ("Leaving Van Nuys"). He is on propation for threatening a girl scout who gave him peppermint patties instead of skinny mints ("Girls Who Wear Glasses").
Unhappily Ever After was created by the same people who created the FOX program Married with Children. Unfortunately, they really aren't all that different, except for the talking bunny. Jack, like Al, has a crappy job and hates his mother-in-law. They both have a love/hate relationship with their wives, the difference being that Jack was actually thrown out of the house by his wife. Jennifer and Peggy continuously torture their husbands. Both have ungrateful children. Tiffany is higher class than Kelly Bundy— she is saving herself for a rich old geezer, destined to be the trophy wife of some rich businessman— and also happens to be the smart one, which also makes Bud Bundy and Ryan opposites.
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