Friends with Better Lives — CBS debuted its new ensemble comedy after the series finale of How I Met Your Mother. Did #FWBL make us LOL?
Six friends in their thirties are in various types of relationships. Andi (Majandra Delfino) and Bobby (Kevin Connolly) are married with a baby. Will (James Van Der Beek) lives with the couple while he tries to reconcile with his estranged (soon-to-be-ex) wife. Kate (Zoe Lister-Jones), a social media entrepreneur, is single but dating, despite intimidating and hating every man she goes out with. Jules (Brooklyn Decker) gets engaged to Lowell (Rick Donald) in the pilot.
Dana Klein, who wrote the pilot and is one of the executive producers, worked on Friends. Veteran television director James Burrows helmed the pilot, and Fred Savage will direct a future episode.
The cast tries its best with the material provided. Unfortunately, the material is so hacky and sitcom-y, there is not much to latch onto. However, I’m curious to see if the second episode is drastically different from the pilot. I have a feeling putting a two-week buffer between episodes was no accident, as the pilot focuses more on exposition than anything else.
What Doesn’t Work
Watching this on my lunch break, I multi-tasked on other browser tabs. With so few visual jokes, Friends with Better Lives could have just as easily been a radio play than a television program. Also, there is an odor of network notes throughout the broadcast. Hashtags and cliches abound, which suggest audience research may be dictating what’s happening on-screen.
I wish nothing but the best for Van Der Beek, so I’ll hold off on final judgment until at least episode two. The relationships seem a little far-fetched from the limited information provided in the pilot. CBS has had a tough time with mid-season launches, so we’ll see if that trend continues.
- The second episode doesn’t air until Monday, April 14. Thanks, basketball. ↵