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Series Premiere Review: “Friends With Better Lives” Is A Disappointment

Rachel Smith ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

James Van Der Beek, Kevin Connolly, Majandra Delfino, Zoe Lister-Jones, Rick Donald and Brooklyn Decker in the Friends With Better Lives "Pilot." Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS.
James Van Der Beek, Kevin Connolly, Majandra Delfino, Zoe Lister-Jones, Rick Donald and Brooklyn Decker in the Friends with Better Lives “Pilot.” Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS.

How I Met Your Mother signed off after 9 season on Monday night. Fans of the show were emotionally distraught after the finale, whether they liked it or not. CBS decided to try and ease the pain by introducing its new sitcom Friends with Better Lives or #FWBL. The naming it with a hashtag might have been a good marketing tool but this trending topic hit twitter with nothing but disappointment and anger.

After one of the biggest TV finales since Friends, one would think CBS would be kind to the fans by letting them mourn the shows end in peace. Instead it was followed by one of the worst sitcoms produced in years.

Who doesn’t love James Van Der Beek trying to make his TV comeback (again)? Who doesn’t want to see adorable Kevin Connolly come back to TV after the success of Entourage? Who doesn’t want to see Brooklyn Decker be more than just a pretty face? Apparently, lots of people.

James Van Der Beek, Kevin Connolly and Majandra Delfino in the Friends With Better Lives "Pilot." Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS.
James Van Der Beek, Kevin Connolly and Majandra Delfino in the Friends with Better Lives “Pilot.” Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS.

The backlash of the show has been huge but why? Well first of all, the writing. The unfortunate thing about that is the pilot was written by the executive producer, Dana Klein. Not a good sign when the creative controller of the show wrote a terrible pilot. The show is based on 6 friends, hmm where have we seen that before? Kevin Connolly and relatively unknown, Majandra Delfino play the only married couple on the show who are facing a marriage rut. They open the show with a series of dirty jokes leading up to the flat reveal of them just watching Homeland. The laugh track following this wasn’t even believable.

James Van Der Beek is then introduced as a sarcastic friend who is going through a separation after his wife cheated on him. He believes he and his wife will get back together. (Spoiler: his wife shows up later and serves him divorce papers in the most unmemorable and un-amusing fashion) He is rude and makes awful jokes especially at the saving grace of the show, Kate, played by the princess of dry humor, Zoe Lister Jones.

Zoe Lister Jones, Rick Donald and Brooklyn Decker in the Friends With Better Lives "Pilot." Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS.
Zoe Lister Jones, Rick Donald and Brooklyn Decker in the Friends with Better Lives “Pilot.” Photo Credit: Trae Patton/CBS.

The pilot episode focuses on an argument between her and Van Der Beek’s character, who’s name you’ll forget because all you can see is James Van Der Beek trying to be someone else unsuccessfully. He says she is still single because she is shallow. She is obviously shallow and picky when it comes to men but she won’t admit it so he sets her up on a date. The guy is sweet but he is short and she is too terrible to continue the date. Her lines are not well written but her delivery is perfect so she gets some real laughs from the live audience.

Finally there is Brooklyn Decker’s character, Jules. She plays the beautiful free spirit who comes back from a yoga retreat with a new boyfriend who then becomes her fiancé by the end of the episode. There “love” is about as believable as Decker being a “natural blonde.” The only amusing thing about their engagement was Kate’s reaction to being the “only single one of the group” followed by her downing a goblet of wine.

This show can only go up from here but it doesn’t seem likely to be picked up for a second season. They need to step away from cheap sex jokes and build the characters so people can connect with at least one of them. The pilot was ultimately forgettable and an insult to follow the grand finale of HIMYM.

Overall Episode Grade: D-

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