Friends from College Season 1 available July 14 on Netflix
The main characters of Friends From College are supposedly so close that they’ve remained in each other’s lives for 20 years, yet they’re all so unpleasant and treat each other so poorly, it’s hard to imagine they’d want to spend even a few minutes together. That’s just one of the problems with the show, created by filmmaker Nicholas Stoller and his wife Francesca Delbanco.
With a talented ensemble cast, Friends has the potential to be a funny and affecting look at getting older while attempting to hold onto the glories of youth. The six friends (played by Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Annie Parisse, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage and Jae Suh Park), all approaching 40, all graduates of Harvard, are all facing midlife crises of sorts—and handling them very badly. The friends are all obnoxious, grating and unlikable, and the main serialized thread of the first season involves an affair between two of the friends who are married to other people.
Stoller balanced humor and relationship drama well in his 2012 movie The Five-Year Engagement, but here the tone veers awkwardly from sitcom clichés to cringe comedy to heavy drama, without any smooth transitions. The writing and direction fail the talented actors (including high-profile guest stars like Kate McKinnon and Seth Rogen), trapping them in annoyingly contrived storylines and unfunny set pieces. These are not the kind of friends you want to keep.