Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pilot Review: Friends from College

Friends from College (Netflix)
Premiered July 14

Before I watched this show, which I heard about a few months ago, I remember reading that this was like “Friends” but with much less likeable characters. That’s true to an extent, but I think it goes deeper than that. This is supposed to be a comedy, in many ways, and there are funny moments, but it’s also much darker and more serious than I think most would expect looking at the poster and the cast. And what a cast it is – assembled from familiar TV faces, most of whom had supporting or even lead roles on other shows throughout the years but may not be known by name to audiences. Out of the six main players, there’s just one I don’t know, and that’s Jae Suh Park, who plays Marianne, who had little to do other than be upset that her convertible top was opened despite her saying not to do it. Competing for the most attention are Keegan Michael-Key, fresh off “Key and Peele,” and Cobie Smulders from “How I Met Your Mother,” as a very argumentative, opinionated pair. Fred Savage, most recently seen on “The Grinder,” and Nat Faxon, who I really liked on “Ben and Kate,” have less showy roles, and I’m especially happy to see Annie Parisse, an actress I first encountered on “Person of Interest” and “The Following,” in a role that makes great use of her talents. Greg Germann, originally from “In Case of Emergency,” is another good choice to play Parisse’s onscreen husband who does not gel at all with her Harvard friends. Aside from recognizing actors, I’m not sure what to make of this show just yet, but given that each episode is only half an hour and I like the cast, I’m up for at least another sampling.

How will it work as a series? Ending the pilot with the shot of Ethan and Sam making out upstairs with everyone else downstairs outside suggests that we’re just getting started here with all the incestuous relationships on this show. It could be fun and interesting, but it could also become tiresome and grating quickly.
How long will it last? Reviews haven’t been great, and ratings data is very difficult to come by for Netflix shows. The streaming service has a lot of shows these days, so I’m not sure it will deem it necessary to continue a show it considers lackluster. It’s impossible to predict, though, and so this show could just as easily return.

Pilot grade: B-