Friends From College is a new comedy from Netflix that stars Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Savage, and Cobie Smulders as a circle of friends from Harvard that explores their relationships as they near their forties.
If you liked Friends or How I Met Your Mother, then you might think that this show is for you. However, it doesn’t live up to these expectations. It focuses too much on the married couples’ relationship at the expense of the two single characters who just seem like background until needed to interact in the main plot. This is a total waste of those actor’s ability, mainly because they are the more realistic and relatable characters of the group.
Keegan-Michael and Cobie are married and trying to have a baby through IVF, however he has had a twenty year affair with his ex-girlfriend (Annie Parisse) who is married to a very rich man who doesn’t understand the friendship these six still maintain after all these years. And, to be honest, neither do I. We are told repeatedly how important and necessary these friends are, but we aren’t shown. Perhaps this is the message from the creators. Not all friendships are meant to go the distance. Maybe the creator intended for his characters to have seemingly not developed since college, but that is quite sad.
Probably the worst offender is Keegan-Michael, who doesn’t seem to know whether to be serious or funny, so he fails at both. When he is anxious he falls into doing weird voices/faces which is just so odd. Maybe once or twice that would work, but it happens so often it grates on our soul. I like Keegan-Michael, and I’m hoping it was the writing that was to blame. In interviews, the creators talk about the show in rich detail. However, it just doesn’t translate on screen. Perhaps the juggling between comedy and drama was too much.
Even guest stars Kate McKinnon and Seth Rogan can’t charm their way past the main character’s antics, and the show suffers for it. Having main characters that are doing unredeemable actions is nothing new, but these characters aren’t even likable. When they get together, they devolve into antics that are really beneath them. Billy Eichner, the boyfriend of Fred Savage’s character is really the only real adult of the bunch, and honesty, our window into this group of friends. If I were out and this group was in the same place, I’d go somewhere else.
The best thing about the series is the soundtrack, which is basically a greatest hits of the mid ’90’s. But even that can’t save the show. If you have four hours that you don’t mind sitting, go ahead and binge. There are some funny moments and interesting dynamics (mostly involving the guest stars) that will keep you hooked. Since Netflix has a relatively low threshold to renew series, I am hoping that a second season brings a better show. We all deserve that.