Friends from College season 2 review


Season 2 of Friends from College improves on its first season, but still leaves plenty of room for improvement.

When I watch through the second season of Friends from College, I continue to struggle to define what exactly this show is. It’s not quite a drama, though it has all the typical (sometimes stereotypical) plot lines. And it’s not really a comedy, because it lacks the really good punchlines of other half-hour comedies. It toes a weird line in between the two.

The strength of this show should be its cast. In the first season, it felt like the individual talents of actors like Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Savage, Cobie Smulders and others were wasted on awkward material. To the credit of Friends from College, this season felt like it trusted the abilities of its cast a lot more. Interestingly, this show full of really funny actors works best when it’s at its most sincere.

Smulders and Key, in particular, are outstanding this season. It’s easy to root for both of them to be happy and successful, even when they do things that are morally questionable (at best).

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Following Smulders’ Lisa through the season as she struggles through a time in her life where relationships just don’t seem to be working, but all of a sudden pregnancy is, is heart-wrenching. The pain, anger and confusion that comes through in her acting is so refreshing.

While it’s not uncommon for dramatic shows to break the tension by having humorous scenes or moments, Friends from College really leans into those comedic moments in a way that doesn’t quite work most of the time.

I don’t want to draw a line between what could be considered “high brow” or “low brow” comedy, because where the line is is completely subjective. But a show like Friends from College, which shows that it can have witty and clever jokes, feels like it is too mature to have a full 30 second bit of adults gagging. There are times where the writers seem like they’re oddly trying to dip into an almost farcical territory.

Some of the attempted jokes seem like things that could work on other comedies about terrible people (like Billy Eichner’s Difficult People). There’s a scene where a high Sam winds up locked in a closet and when she goes to get her phone out of her bag to call for help, she drops it and manages to then kick it under the door and then another person comes by and kicks it. (Yet the next morning, the phone is miraculously still there—not stepped on and broken, not in lost and found, not stolen.)

The whole series of events feels like the adult equivalent to a cartoon character stepping on a rake that pops up and hits them in the face.

And that can work…in other shows. It can work in shows that don’t take themselves so seriously. And that’s not to say that Friends from College should take itself more seriously. The serious aspects are actually the parts I enjoy the most. Instead, the times where the characters are simply put in slightly over the top situations wind up working the best comedically.

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The moment that pops into mind is Savage’s Max struggling to figure out how to write his section of the novel. In the face of real stakes, Max tries a variety of things to be able to write and they’re all funny, because they’re in service of something—him trying not to fail.

When I watched the first season of Friends from College I was left wondering how on earth I could care about people who are so completely awful. I couldn’t fathom how these six people were friends. I’ve come around. (Well, mostly. Ruining Max’s bachelor party with very little remorse was almost a breaking point.)

These characters and their lives are intertwined in a way that’s not dissimilar to a soap opera, but in a way that also feels honest. The show just struggles to get its more dramatic storylines to mesh well with its want to have immature comedic moments.

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In all, it’s a massive improvement on the first season and I hope the third season continues to fine tune what comedy can actually work within the scope of these characters’ lives.

How did you enjoy the second season of Friends from College? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. You can still binge-watch the entire second season on Netflix.