×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Friends from College’ on Netflix

With:

Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Annie Parisse, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage, Jae Suh Park.

A lot of well-known TV comedies revolve around the idea that people who aren’t necessarily likable have lives and relationships worth sampling.

The problem with the dreadful “Friends From College” is not that its core characters are often selfish, deluded or uncaring; that is almost to be expected in the edgier realms of the vital half-hour scene. The show’s main issue is that it demonstrates little ability to create or deepen characters who are worth watching, despite their personal deficiencies.

Take away the solid jokes that underpin more mainstream sitcoms, and the entrancingly selfish characters that inhabit the better streaming half-hours, and you are left with “Friends from College,” which flails wildly and unsuccessfully in search of a reason to exist.

The title explains the premise of the show: Years after graduating from Harvard, a group of friends reconnect in New York City. Some of these men and women (who bring up Harvard a lot, in that charming way Harvard grads do) have been in touch over the years, though most are consumed by their careers (or lack thereof). Two of them are cheating on their spouses with each other, a fact revealed in the opening scene, and that appears to be a story strand layered in so that “Friends From College” can comment on the compromises of middle age. 

But that relationship never gains the kind of depth it needs to be worth caring about, nor do any of the marriages offer anything but superficial glosses on the challenges of commitment. As the series opens — and then drags on and on — many scenes focus on the show’s overriding dynamic: A series of ongoing passive-aggressive battles regarding who has accomplished more since these one-dimensional “friends” left the Ivy League. If you define friendship as an anxiety-provoking, soul-sucking competition with striving acquaintances you never liked all that much, then “Friends From College” will be right up your alley.

The show does boast one major accomplishment: It somehow wastes a very talented and appealing array of actors. Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Fred Savage and Kate McKinnon are among those stranded inside this panicky muddle, which never really decides on a tone and rarely bothers with consistent characterization.

Once in a while, members of the cast are able to lend a poignant or bittersweet note to the proceedings. But far more often, they are asked to pitch their performances in gratingly large and loud ways. Everything is oversized in “Friends From College”: Characters scream, shout and gesture wildly, to the point that other people on screen repeatedly ask them to rein in their sweaty hyperactivity. This is also a show that thinks it’s hilarious to name a hedge fund run by nasty people “Blackstool” (because sometimes stool means poop, get it?).

All we can hope is that these actors graduate from this project, never to return.

TV Review: 'Friends from College' on Netflix

Comedy; Eight episodes (3 reviewed); Netflix, Friday, July 14. 30 min.

Crew:

Executive producers, Nick Stoller, Francesca Delbanco.

Cast:

Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Annie Parisse, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage, Jae Suh Park.

More TV

  • WGA West Logo

    Writers Guild Sends Hollywood Agents Proposed Code of Conduct

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent Hollywood talent agencies a proposed “Code of Conduct” with tough new restrictions on how they operate as agents for writer clients. The WGA made the disclosure Thursday night in an email to its 12,000 members, a day after announcing that it will hold a March 25 [...]

  • Jussie Smollett court

    Jussie Smollett's Attorneys Say He Was Victim of Police 'Spectacle'

    Jussie Smollett’s legal team issued a defiant statement on Thursday night, saying the “Empire” actor feels betrayed by the justice system and hinting at a political motive for his prosecution. Smollett was arrested early Thursday on a felony charge of filing a false police report. He was released after a court hearing on $100,000 bond, [...]

  • Carra Patterson Sarah Levy Paola Lazaro

    Fox Casts Four Leads in 'Patty's Auto' Pilot

    Fox has announced the casting of four lead characters for its multi-cam comedy pilot “Patty’s Auto,” including the eponymous Patty. Inspired by Patrice Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic, an auto repair shop with all female mechanics, the project centers on Patty, the intimidating owner of Patty’s Auto who will be played by “Straight Outta Compton” alumna [...]

  • Adam Pally Abby Elliott

    Adam Pally, Abby Elliott Join Cast of NBC Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured'

    NBC pilot “Uninsured” has cast four of its series regulars, with Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project,” “The President Show”) and Abby Elliott (“Saturday Night Live,” “Odd Mom Out”) playing the young married couple at the center of the show. Pally will play Dave, who is described as a “natural hype man with a good heart.” Elliott [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Appeared in Documentary on

    Jussie Smollett Recently Hosted Doc on Lynching, Filmmaker Talks 'Coincidence'

    In May 2018, Jussie Smollett appeared as the narrator and correspondent in an episode of the Epix documentary series “America Divided” that explored the subject of hate crimes, specifically lynching, in the state of Tennessee. Now that the “Empire” actor has been charged with filing a false police report and Chicago police are convinced he [...]

  • TV News Roundup: CBS All Access

    TV News Roundup: 'Twilight Zone' Reboot Drops First Full Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, CBS All Access has released the official trailer for the rebooted “Twilight Zone” and Sophia Bush will guest star on “Jane the Virgin.” CASTING “One Tree Hill” actress and Time’s Up activist Sophia Bush has been cast as a guest star on the fifth and final season of “Jane the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content