The new Netflix Original show, "Friends from College," is exactly what you would expect it to be. A show about middle aged friends who are experiencing life after college. Now, I am using middle aged sparingly because they are either in their forties or just turning it. This is not a typical show about thirty-somethings experiencing (the soon thereafter) life after college and partying twenty-four-seven.
This is entirely different. Most of the characters are married, or married and have children, or married and are trying to have children. Some are single; some are living the forty-year-old life after college. However, this is still not the typical “life after college” show. The show is centered around a twenty-year adultery scandal, which is an overused plot and very very bland nowadays; but, “Friends from College” did it once again in 2017.
What makes this show different is the cast, right off the bat -- we have one part of "Key and Peele," Keegan-Michael Key who plays the main character of the show, Ethan Turner. He is hilarious in this show; I would watch the show just for the fact that he is hilarious in anything he ever does. That saves the show often.
Cobie Smulders as Lisa Turner who is Ethan Turner’s wife. This is a different casting choice because I only see her as Maria Hill nowadays. Annie Parisse as Sam, Nat Faxon as Nick, Fred Savage has made a return as Max Adler, and Jae Suh Park as Marianne. These six characters make up “Friends from College.”
Why It Only Works For A Netflix Original Show
It works for a Netflix Original show because Netflix is known to take leaps of faith. It works in a sense that – it would not work for any other network but Netflix. The show is quite bland and does not bring anything ‘interesting’ to the table.
It is a show about forty-somethings who are terrible people; this can be seen in episode two, titled “Connecticut House.” In this particular episode, it is entirely about adultery and killing a bunny... so they think.
There is nothing special about the episode that stands out; however, Ethan and Sam are toying with fate as they continue their cheating scandal. Moreover, what makes matters even worse is – Sam has children with her husband John, played by John Germann. It appears that these set of couples are terrible people in a terrible TV show.
The only thing that saves this show is the comedic relief from Keegan-Michael Key and often, surprisingly, Fred Savage. Without Key and Savage in this show, it would have faltered more so than it already did. That does not mean it is a bad show. It works for Netflix as I said.
Most Netflix Originals are bland and very hit-or-miss. Netflix, as I stated before, seems just to be taking a leap of faith on shows and movies that do not work for Networks. This is one of those shows. While it is not bad, it is not good. There is a category of shows on Netflix that can be titled, “Background Noise Shows;” this would be under that category.
It overestimates the audience it is pulling for. Most Millennials are watching Netflix and baby-boomers in their forties are not necessarily watching new shows on a streaming site called Netflix. While they might, and the demographic could be at least half of baby-boomers are watching Netflix and new shows on Netflix – it is still a small percentage.
Most Millennials are watching these new TV shows and, dare I say it, taking a leap of faith on them. They are watching the first episode and deciding from then on if they will continue. This show might make half continue and half not continue (hit-or-miss).
The characters of the show are simply forty-somethings doing childish things: taking drugs, cheating, complaining, getting drunk every other day (or every weekend), taking Adderall, and merely acting like they are twenty in a forty-year-old body.
There is nothing wrong with that, it is perfectly fine, but there is also an adult world; bills need to be paid, jobs need to be worked, and the characters on this show simply come off as a privileged joke.
It is more so like they just graduated college, instead of being out of college for years and years, maybe even a decade now. Moreover, what makes matters worse is – most, if not all, of these characters, went to Harvard. They remind you of that. However, they do not act like it.
What makes the show irritating, at best, is Ethan is continuing to work with his wife using IVF to get her pregnant. This is even though he has been cheating on her for over twenty years. It makes you angry, more than anything else watching the show; in the episode titled, “Mission Impossible” it shows just that.
Ethan is going through everything and trying to get his wife pregnant, but he knows he is cheating on her in that same retrospect. I wish the show centered around the aftermath of adultery or how to work through adultery. It would have made the show more prominent and relatable, in a way.
Why It Would Not Work For A Network Show?
It does not work for a network show because no one would tune into a show about forty-somethings trying their hand at life. Most people want to see “Friends from College” as people in their thirties. They want to feel related to these characters. What “Friends from College” falters in is that relatable factor.
While people can relate to adultery and trying their hand at life, these characters are wasted on bland acting and bland results. We do not get many dimensions; it is very one-dimensional with these characters in the show.
They are nearly forty, or forty, and living on their friend’s couch because they decided to get a U-Haul and move back to New York. Usually, people get an apartment soon thereafter when they are forty because who wants to live on a pull-out couch at forty years old?
There are just some aspects that are not relatable, which results in inconsistency. By episode six titled, “Party Bus” it becomes a daunting task to finish the series. With just two episodes left, you get bored, and the plots seem to all blend into one another. By the sixth episode, you are wondering, “Okay, but what else?” It is the same old, same old, and makes you want to switch to something else.
It would not work for a Network for that reasoning. Networks need polished shows, with multiple plot points, and multiple ‘jaw-dropping’ episodes. Affairs do not do that for TV anymore. The use of affairs on TV, sadly, has become the norm. It does not provide anything for the TV series that it is being used in – shows can do it correctly, but they can also do it incorrectly.
“Friends from College” does it incorrectly. It does not show any resentment from these characters that are having an affair. Sam does not take her children into account. Ethan still tries to have a child with his wife, although he is having sex with another woman. No one thinks about their choices at their age in the show. Which, again, is weird because they are forty. At that age, you usually do not make drastic decisions such as the ones these characters are making.
Ethan and Lisa live on their friend’s couch, yet still have money to go on wine tastings and go to expensive restaurants. It appears that they are not thinking about their own life or even finding their own place. The first time they look for their own place is in episode three titled, “All-Nighter.” It took them three episodes to look for a place.
The show falters in many ways that would lead to a Network not picking up the show.
Verdict: Is It Any Good?
It is decent; if you want a new show to watch that will keep you interested – not the show for you. If you want a show for background noise, that you can work and watch at the same time – I would say go for it.
The show has some interesting moments, such as the IVF moments. They are relatable – but, are often downplayed by the preceding or upcoming events that happen. It appears while this show stands on good morals and a good, decent plot -- it does not efficiently produce those well for the show.
Terrible acting clouds the course of these eight episodes, and forty-year-olds acting like twenty-year-olds. That sucks because some of these actors are some of the best actors in the game. It is a show full of adultery and terrible choices if that is something you are into then, by all means, check out "Friends from College."