Like a lot of Bravo series, “Friends to Lovers?” poses an interesting question, then casts it in the most predictable, reality-TV-ish manner possible. So ultimately, whether couples who start out as friends can make the transition to romance quickly becomes a rather banal proposition, despite the requisite casting that explores the issue from various angles, without regard to race or sexuality. Part of that might have to do with the format, squeezing five potential couples into the concept, which requires a good deal of jumping around. Then again, spending much more time with any of the pairings isn’t particularly appealing either.
It’s become almost mandatory to have at least one semi-obscure celebrity connection in these exercises, and this one is a hoot: Jin Mosley, divorced from boxer Shane Mosley, who is still such a regular presence in her life he’s sort-of living with her, much to the understandable chagrin of Sydney Hall, a club promoter who would like to give dating her a try.
Not surprisingly, most of the participants have connections to Bravo-friendly lines of work, such as Alex Goldman, a chef who wants to turn up the heat on his relationship with Kristen Ruby, who runs a PR firm; or Charley Walters, who covets a romance with videogame producer-host Darion Lowenstein.
After a while, though, all the explanations of how these duos wound up in their platonic circumstances become little more than foreplay for the “This season on” tease, promising tears, arguing and sex, roughly in that order.
Too many reality shows have the chutzpah to refer to themselves as “experiments,” but the issues broached by “Friends to Lovers?” might actually qualify as one — or at least, resonate among those who aren’t watching the NCAA football championship game — if only the program could break out, just a little, from its too-familiar approach.
As is, will the premiere be enough to turn anyone but the “I’ll watch anything on Bravo” contingent from “Samplers to Steady Viewers?” Anything’s possible, but that’s the kind of love connection the show doesn’t seem well-suited to make.