Netflix has presented us with yet another comedy series that they’ve produced in the form of Friends From College. The eight episode series has an all star comedy cast that includes Keegan Michael-Key, Cobie Smulders, Fred Savage, Annie Parisse, Nat Faxon, Jae W. Suh, and Allegra Rose Edwards. As the title hints at, it’s about a group of friends who are going through the motions as established working adults in New York City. Their relationships aren’t as simple as you’d think once you realize that quite a few of the characters are casually having affairs with one another.
I didn’t know anything about this series going in beyond it having a strong cast, but I wish I knew what kind of tragic storyline I was getting myself into. With a cast like this, you’d assume that it would be more chuckles and humor, but instead has more of a Pagliocci effect that was slightly off putting. I don’t want to spoil anything, but one thing that I couldn’t get past was how they dealt with a lot of the characters flaws as individuals. The only real characters I could respect were Cobi Smulders’ Lisa and Jae W. Suh’s Marianne.
What I think the show was going for was to be in the tone of the tragicomedies of the past, but instead just felt tragic. I think where it shines is as a bit of a more serious drama piece that happens to have funny moments once in awhile, but you get this over the top slapstick and sketch style comedy in certain episodes that doesn’t quite do it for me. The show shines in showing us the hardships of being adults with adult issues. Topics like children, marriage, hating your job, and realizing what you were meant to do are where they should have kept their focus, but it felt like it was losing and gaining direction each episode. The worst part about me reviewing this right now is that I binged the series last night and barely remember what happened.
What shows like Master of None manages to do with drama and comedy is find an arc to follow, but to never get locked up in that specific story beat for the whole series. Friends From College would be wise to take time to craft episodes that have their own nucleus that the comedy and drama can rotate around as the electrons and protons that form the episode. There’s potential in the show, but if you get to meet my favorite character in the form of Billy Eichner’s Felix, you’ll realize Felix personifies everything I felt in the show. #ImFelix
Overall, the show is easy to binge in one night, but it’s hard to describe if I actually like it or not. I think it’s a victim of sporadic ideas or too minimal ideas, I just don’t know, and that in of itself goes against the show in it’s entirety. I thought that the arc with Cobi Smulders was really compelling overall and that Keegan Michael-Key proved in certain scenes that he has what it takes to do the serious dramas if he can just level back the sporadic comedy that he consistently does, sometimes it works and sometimes it falls very flat. I don’t know if I’d recommend this show to anyone simply because I don’t think I’d know how and I don’t exactly enjoy the themes they touched upon with a few of the main characters in the first few episodes.