You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Friend Zone

Playing like a dating show on amphetamines -- or a "secret crush" episode of a daytime talkshow -- MTV's "Friend Zone" strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a "just-friend" that they're secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph.

Playing like a dating show on amphetamines — or a “secret crush” episode of a daytime talkshow — MTV’s “Friend Zone” strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a “just-friend” that they’re secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph. The situation resonates, mostly, because it’s easily relatable, but also because the participants are so inarticulate as to create a level of authenticity. Leave it to MTV: Presenting romance without any foreplay or, for that matter, messy aftermath.

Although the show comes from “Jersey Shore” producer SallyAnn Salsano, “Friend Zone” is almost the understated antithesis of that cash cow. Addressing the camera, kids talk about how they’re mad for a friend of the opposite sex (is same-sex in the future?), setting them up for an on-air proposal: The gimmick is they think they’re providing support for a dating show, only to be hit with the “I want to date you” overture themselves.

As constituted, it feels like kind of a cheap trick to the object of affection, but they’re quickly lost, frankly, in the pursuer’s relief and exultation, or embarrassment and pain. And if there’s the risk of friendships squandered or true heartbreak, well, hey, the show’s only a half-hour, let ’em sort that out beyond the camera’s prying lens.

The feelings of youthful ardor, however, are raw, honest and compelling (“I’m just gonna be devastated” if the answer’s “no,” one says), perhaps more so because the first participants lack the words to really express them. Nor, for that matter, do their intendeds have much to say once confronted.

In a way, that leaves the “why” of the romance — and distinction between being friends or more — to an answer as simple as “Because,” and the focus squarely on whether the pass is completed or not.

Should “Friend Zone” become a success, it would presumably become more difficult to arrange these oncamera ambushes, which hasn’t stopped CBS’ “Undercover Boss” from finding participants, and frankly, it’s a high-class problem.

For now, though, why over-think things, on a show that neatly reduces relationships to “The Wide World of Sports” opening — as in “the thrill of victory” or “the agony of defeat.”

Friend Zone

MTV, Tues. Nov. 1, 7 p.m.

Production: Produced by 495 Prods. Executive producers, SallyAnn Salsano, Joel Zimmer; co-executive producer, Danny Shaner; supervising producers, Jill Garelick, Krista Van Nieuwburg, Lisa Marie Tobin; senior producer, Clay Wolflick; directors, Brad Kreisberg, Lucas Mertes; supervising story producer, Jeffrey W. Ruggles; editors, Tim Kelley, Hobie Smith; casting, Josh Allouche. 30 MIN.

More TV

  • This Is Us Season 2

    Delayed Viewing Ratings: 8 of Top 25 Shows Double in Week 6

    Playing like a dating show on amphetamines — or a “secret crush” episode of a daytime talkshow — MTV’s “Friend Zone” strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a “just-friend” that they’re secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph. […]

  • Jason Blum

    NBCUniversal Cable Orders Pilot for Supernatural Thriller Series With Jason Blum Producing

    Playing like a dating show on amphetamines — or a “secret crush” episode of a daytime talkshow — MTV’s “Friend Zone” strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a “just-friend” that they’re secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph. […]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Misconduct

    CBS, PBS, Bloomberg Suspend Charlie Rose Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

    Playing like a dating show on amphetamines — or a “secret crush” episode of a daytime talkshow — MTV’s “Friend Zone” strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a “just-friend” that they’re secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph. […]

  • Seth Meyers NBC scripted shows

    Seth Meyers Nears Deal to Host Golden Globe Awards (EXCLUSIVE)

    Playing like a dating show on amphetamines — or a “secret crush” episode of a daytime talkshow — MTV’s “Friend Zone” strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a “just-friend” that they’re secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph. […]

  • Anthony Edwards

    Fellow Actor Backs Anthony Edwards Molestation Claims Against Producer Gary Goddard

    Playing like a dating show on amphetamines — or a “secret crush” episode of a daytime talkshow — MTV’s “Friend Zone” strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a “just-friend” that they’re secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph. […]

  • Fox News

    After Shareholder Complaints, 21st Century Fox Sets Workplace Council at Fox News

    Playing like a dating show on amphetamines — or a “secret crush” episode of a daytime talkshow — MTV’s “Friend Zone” strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a “just-friend” that they’re secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph. […]

  • American Music Awards Alessia Cara

    American Music Awards: What You Didn't See on TV

    Playing like a dating show on amphetamines — or a “secret crush” episode of a daytime talkshow — MTV’s “Friend Zone” strips down relationships to their potentially humiliating or heartwarming beginnings: In each half-hour, two teens break the news to a “just-friend” that they’re secretly infatuated with them, offering the possibility of rejection or triumph. […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content