Netflix's “Friends from College” just released its second season and honestly, it was both overly dramatic and very repetitive. Though all the characters are still reeling from the secrets exposed in the first season, there’s no character growth or any real changes. This is especially true for Ethan, who acts like a child and never makes up his mind.
I’m honestly mad on Keegan-Michael Key’s behalf that Ethan was so one-dimensional. He’s such a great actor he almost made Ethan likable, but it was just so boring to watch. For something that’s supposed to be comedy, there was just so much wishy-washy angst.
Towards the middle, it seems like Ethan’s finally decided to fully be with Sam (Annie Parisse), but then he’s torn again. Nothing’s ever fully resolved, and it seems like none of them can ever disentangle themselves from the old college group, forever stuck in the past and hurting each other.
This is especially true for Lisa (Cobie Smulders), who comes back after a mysterious absence only to get reabsorbed back into their friend group, to the point where she ditches her new boyfriend. She then spends a lot of time hanging out with Sam, which frankly, seems like a unrealistic plot point.
It seemed really unhealthy, because she’s still got some unresolved tension and hurt, but whatever, no one in the entire show was in a healthy relationship, except for Max (Fred Savage), and it feels like his sexuality is just written to show how accepting and liberal the friend group is.
I’m glad he and Felix (Billy Eichner) were together, but it felt like the writers were playing into the whole But Not Too Gay trope, where they throw in a gay couple, but don’t have them show any normal couple affection. Also, Felix was definitely out of Max's league and he didn’t seem to have a good enough personality to make that understandable, but I digress.
There’s tons of graphic heterosexual sex, but Max and Felix don’t even kiss at their wedding. Instead, they hug. This was really frustrating because they’re not allowed to show any affection even when they’re literally reciting their vows. The writers are fine with showing death and infidelity but apparently two men kissing is where they draw the line.
I also had issues with all the infidelity. One of the biggest issues people had with season one was that there was too much infidelity, but instead of listening to the criticism and actually coming up with new plot points, the writers decided to double down and just keep tossing in more cheating. It got to the point where I was just waiting for another relationship to be wrecked.
Besides being wildly overused, all the cheating made the characters unrelatable. They pretty much seemed like amoral monsters and I just wanted for Lisa to go to therapy so badly. I also wished there had been more consequences for Ethan and Sam's decades of cheating, because they did the most damage and weren’t super affected by the aftermath.
The show did do some things really well, like portraying the relationship between Max and Ethan, showing how strong their friendship is and how much history is behind it. I also really liked the scene where Lisa talks to Sam and tells her how their friendship has been ruined.
The dialogue is really strong, and there are some really good light hearted, zany moments. “Friends from College” had a lot of potential. If the show’s creators had just managed to pull themselves away from heavy-handed drama, it could’ve been really good.