FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES
*1/2 (out of ****)
At first, the title of CBS’ new three-camera seems like a more honest moniker of many sitcoms. “This is the story of people who, although they might resemble some of your friends in various ways, lead much more fun, attractive lives than you do.” Instead, it’s the show’s gimmick. “This is the story of six people, in different romantic phases of their lives, who are jealous of their friend’s romantic phases.” Yikes. As a gimmick, I doubt its ability to last for five seasons and a movie (Of course, people said that about How I Met Your Mother for its entire duration, and that’s a show I still feel forced to defend). But look at it as a description of the characters on the show – the show that CBS is hoping you return to every Monday for the foreseeable future. Sure, I’ve been a little jealous of people who are more single than me, or even less single than me, but it’s a fleeting thought at most. This is what brings these people together, if not in their fictional world, then in the world we and the show runners live in. That’s not a good start for a show that already started with one foot in the critical grave, what with it being a three-camera sitcom and all.
It certainly lives up to its current three-camera colleagues, in all of the worst ways. Hacky, tired, boring, shallow, unoriginal. In a lot of ways, it resembles this review. “If they don’t have to come with original ideas, then why should I?” ask both the creators of the show, knowing that CBS doesn’t have very high quality standards, and myself, who finds it more and more difficult to give these shows even a fraction of the time it takes to write about something worthwhile, like SO MUCH of the television that’s on today.
Allow me to give you an example of what to expect, in case you’re still on the verge of watching. Kevin Connolly (E from Entourage, who you’ll be surprised by how little you missed) and his wife forget their anniversary. So the next night, E invites all of their friends over for a surprise party. With me so far? Pretty standard sitcom shit. Her car pulls in the driveway. The guests turn off the lights, ready to scream “Surprise.” She comes in and, with the lights still off, tells her husband she knows how to spice up their dull sex life. After a few seconds, someone mercifully turns on the lights to reveal E’s wife on her knees, about to perform oral sex. On her husband. In front of everyone they know. And he knew they were there. What the fuck? What the fucking fuck? Is marriage such a desperate sex vacuum that you have to resort to getting blowbies in front of all your friends? Or are we supposed to think that this guy, the normalish, grounded, main character of the show, is this much of a fucking creep? Either way, it remains horriblest, horriblest garbage.
- Ryan Haley