FWBL S1E3

Friends With Better Lives S1E3 “Game Sext Match” Episode Review (#FWBL)

Hello all, and welcome to a recap of this week’s episode of Friends With Better Lives. I always like to give new shows a grace period of about three episodes, so this is an important milestone for me in terms of whether I will keep watching. Before I sat down to view the episode I decided that it needed to make me laugh – like really laugh, out loud – but I didn’t want it to creep over into the 2 ½ Men and 2 Broke Girls level of vulgar humor. How I Met Your Mother certainly pushed the envelope in terms of dirty subject matter, but they eased into it a little better than some other CBS shows. Anyway, I’m still waiting to see/decide if this show is worth the watch. Onward!

We open with Will and a blonde girl, flirting over wine. He mentions that he is divorced but that does not dissuade her. It might even encourage her, because we hear Will say “And that’s when it happened…” Then we cut to the whole group in the living room. Apparently what happened is that the blonde girl touched Will’s balls! A bit forward for a first date, but it could have been misinterpreted, right? The girls attempt to clarify:

Kate: Wait, so this Annika girl just reached out and grabbed your nuts?

Will: I wouldn’t say grabbed…it was more like a graze, or a nudge.

Andi: Well was it a graze or a nudge?

Jules: Because there is a very big difference.

Kate: A nudge implies intent, whereas a graze – purely accidental.

Will: It’s tough to tell down there. Every touch feels like something special!

Bobby laments that wouldn’t mind a graze or a nudge – he would just be happy if someone looked at it. I guess the super horny pregnancy phase really is over for Andi. I generally dislike it when sitcoms do the horny husband/prude wife setup, but I will concede that it’s a real life pairing for many people. So even though it seems a little tired, I’m sure there are lots of couples that can relate. Anyway, Andi stares pointedly at Bobby’s crotch and then sarcastically asks, “Happy now”?

Next we’re in the kitchen, and Bobby is declaring himself officially screwed. Will has a very serious injury – tennis elbow – that prevents him from competing in their annual OBGYN tennis tournament. This is unfortunate because it’s a doubles event and Bobby is left without a partner. Bobby is not impressed by Will’s pain but Will defends himself, saying it’s a real thing resulting from him overexerting his elbow. Andi replies, “Yeah, by overexerting my female fitness magazine”, and poor Kate flings the magazine she was reading across the room. I love this girl’s face; it’s very expressive and she makes me laugh.

Jules suggests that Lowell be his partner, but Lowell protests that he isn’t a gynecologist – just a vagina enthusiast. No worries, though, because only person is required to be in the lady parts business for this event. Problem solved! Will receives a classy text from Annika, thanking him for drinks. So for a second we think that perhaps it was a graze, and not a nudge. But her next text is a sext with a whole lot of detail, and it becomes clear that her nut-nudge was intentional.

The whole group checks out Annika’s vagina picture. Kate comments on how it’s a close up picture, fully shaved, leaving nothing to the imagination. Lowell observes that it looks like it is winking at him. I observe that this is a little crude for my taste. I guess it isn’t crude so much as very explicit, in terms of language. It’s not a dealbreaker but it is a type of humor I will either adjust to or get tired of fast. We shall see.

Everyone agrees that if Will wants this girl, he needs to respond in kind. Yep, he needs to send a penis pic. Kate scoffs, because Will is so not the type of guy to do that. But Will has been off the market for decades! Who knows what kind of guy he is or isn’t? Kate knows exactly who he is:

You’re the guy who asks a girl out for a root beer float and then makes an oopsie in his boxers because he can’t get her girdle off fast enough.

Will swears that he has what it takes to be cool, though, so he heads off to photograph his privates. Go forth Will! Conquer your fears and fire off that sexy selfie! I’m not particularly attracted to James Van Der Beek (I was always a Pacey girl myself – you know what I mean) but I would like a gander at that picture. I’m just saying!

The next scene shows us Andi and Jules having lunch. Kate walks by outside the restaurant and sees her two best friends sitting together. She’s excited to surprise them and she calls Andi’s phone. But Andi doesn’t answer. Andi and Jules both look at the phone and wave it off in a gesture that suggests talking to Kate is not a good idea right now. Kate’s face is devastated, but still funny. I like that about her. I may have a girl crush on actress Zoe Lister-Jones, in case you haven’t noticed.

It’s really a sad moment, though. Groups of three tend to be difficult, because people naturally pair off. It doesn’t have to be a romantic thing, but sometimes with three friends the third ends up as, well, the third wheel. I have totally been on both sides of it. It sucks if you’re the one that is being left out, but it’s also awkward when two out of three people have a different type of connection than the third. That being said, I feel bad for Kate right now because her friends are being mean. That will have to wait, because now we’re jumping over to the “Southern California Obstetrics Open Doubles Tournament”.

Bobby and Lowell are on the court, ready to play some tennis. Lowell warns Bobby that when he plays he can get “a little excitable”. Bobby says to just have fun, but it’s already clear that this could lead to disaster. Lowell serves the ball so hard that it nearly takes out his opponent on the other side of the net. Then Lowell unleashes his alter ego – this guy has some serious, Hulk-like rage inside of him:

Ace! In your face! Do you like my balls, old man? Because you’re gonna be choking on them all day – hey, thanks for the invite Bobby – I’m going to burn your houses down and EAT YOUR CHILDREN!

It’s a little disturbing how he can switch from crazy mode into casual conversation with Bobby and then back again without blinking an eye. But I am enjoying this new side of Lowell. The pure of heart vegan thing wasn’t all that intriguing to me, but this I can get into.

Now we’re back at the house, and Bobby is explaining to Andi and Jules that it was a tournament for men who deliver babies – and one who threatens to eat them. Then Kate shows up, and the other two girls try to act oh-so-casual. Kate asks what they did for lunch, and Andi pulls off a decent lie about taking her son to get his shots. All Jules can offer in support is that she already has all her shots. But it doesn’t matter, because the jig is already up. Kate calls them on it and questions why they would do that to her. They confess that they were working on wedding plans (for Jules and Lowell) and they didn’t think it was her thing.

Jules: We just didn’t think you liked talking about wedding stuff.

Kate: Why? Because I’m single? Because you pity me and think I’m going to die alone?

Andi: Nooo!

Jules: Not for a very long time…

Kate: Look, a lot of little girls dream about their wedding. I dreamt of becoming a successful businesswoman. And I have. Success has asked me to marry him and I said yes, and now we’re raising a beautiful 401k together. So you don’t have to worry about me.

Is Kate telling the truth here? She seems to mean it, but we also have learned so far that she’s sarcastic and hides her vulnerability. Chances are that she really is into weddings, which means she was extra hurt by being excluded. That’s unfortunate. The girls buy her tough talk, though, and all is well when they invite her to help with the plans.

Will breezes in after a successful mission – his crotch shot has been sent. But his description raises some eyebrows:

Will: I think I struck the perfect balance, too. Cool, casual, and relaxed.

Andi: Wait, how relaxed were you?

Will: Fully relaxed.

All three girls wince, and Bobby just laughs. Will explains that he didn’t want to seem over-eager, and Andi questions if he wanted to look impotent.

Will: Why didn’t you say something?!

Kate: We didn’t think we’d have to tell a grown man not to photograph his flaccid penis!

That is such a Dawson thing to do. What a dork. So Will runs off to, ahem, correct his error, and we cut to commercial.

The next scene is the three ladies at a restaurant. Kate is grilling Andi and Jules on the wedding plans, but all those two have accomplished is deciding to have not-ugly bridesmaid’s dresses. Andi helpfully points out that they also enjoyed eating lots of focaccia bread during their lunch dates, and there’s no focaccia to be found now. She’s pregnant, so she’s allowed to demand bread whenever she wants. I don’t make the rules guys.

Kate is freakishly knowledgeable about every minute detail of the wedding planning process, and she takes over. When they question why she is so informed on the subject, she replies that she’s good at everything. She did mention several things about permits and fees and whatnot, so it’s plausible that a businesswoman would know such things. There’s no time to wonder, because we’re back to the tennis court.

Bobby and Lowell are crushing it! They have a budding bromance and decide to call themselves “The Racketeers”. They win another game, and are very polite when conversing with the losers:

Good game, boys. Hey, I really want to apologize for what I said before. I’m sure your mum is lovely and would never consent to that.

Bobby has made it to the tournament finals, thanks in large part to Lowell’s extreme tennis skills. Their final opponents are two doctors that head up the obstetrics board at the hospital. They’ve won “The Golden Vulva” award for the past twelve years, and they intend to keep it. They threaten Bobby with the loss of his locker and parking spot at the hospital, and they say he will be relegated to the crappy operating room with bad lighting if he beatas them.

If I recall correctly, Bobby and Will have a private practice together. But many of their patients probably opt to deliver at the hospital, and certain medical procedures might need to be done there as well. So it’s a big deal to potentially lose hospital privileges like a well equipped OR, or even a parking space. These guys are jerks for blackmailing their way into a twelve year winning streak.

Now it looks like we’re at another wedding planning session, and this one is set at Namaste – Lowell’s vegan restaurant. I hope they have tofucaccia bread for Andi! Kate reviews a detailed list of tasks accomplished, and Jules marvels at what a productive day it’s been. Things are humming along nicely today. Then Will shows up with the blonde – Annika – by his side. It’s always fun when a guy introduces his new girl to his girl friends; let’s see how this turns out.

Everyone is polite, but Jules and Kate direct their stares to Annika’s pelvic region for way too long. We usually think of guys needing to be reminded to look up at a woman’s face, but in this situation it’s other woman that are focused on the naughty bits. Annika leaves for the restroom, and the Kate has to comment:

You know, it’s weird, I don’t know her last name and yet I’ve seen her vagina.

They’ve said the word “vagina” quite a few times tonight. It may be going overboard, but our society tends to treat “vagina” as a dirty word and that needs to change. There’s nothing inherently dirty or offensive about the word, so normalizing its use in the media is likely a good thing. With that being said, it will alienate some viewers. My mom commented that she feels like she’s too old for this show, in part because of that type of humor. She’s out of the target demographic, of course, but she hasn’t said that about many other sitcoms that I watch.

Anyway, back to the story at hand. Andi and Will discuss the apparent success of his follow up picture:

Andi: So I take it she liked the second photo?

Will: Oh yeah. Well, once she saw the before she was that much more impressed with the after. It told a story.

Will makes a flourish gesture with his hand to indicate this story, and his girl friends are suitably impressed. Kate even concedes defeat and lets Will take a picture of her pouting. He says he’s going to use it for his Christmas cards this year. Man, these two should just get a room. But not for at least another season or two, so we don’t rush things. For now Will is with Annika, and she’s ready to get with him. She wants to skip dinner and have sex at her place instead. Will is understandably on board with this plan.

Now we’re back to the tennis match, and it seems like the tides have turned against The Racketeers. Dr. Gunderman and Dr. Adleman are dominating the game as Lowell plays bad on purpose. The doctors have some weird, vaginal related trash talk, but I guess that’s on par for their particular field. It makes my review more interesting; I’m quite sure I’ve never typed “vagina” so many times in one episode recap before.

We jump over to Will and Annika, making out in her apartment. It’s rapidly becoming evident that Will is not on the same level as this girl. She’s into nipple clamps and mixing sedatives and tying men up with Christmas lights. Is this episode set in the holiday season and I just didn’t realize? No matter. We skip back over to Namaste now to join the women for a while longer.

Kate is in full head honcho mode, denying and approving requests made by the bride. She seems to have forgotten that she isn’t in charge of everything. Or even anything. Jules and Andi are over it. They point out that everything always has to be her way. When Kate protests, Andi is rather vehement about how it was Kate’s decision to omit focaccia from the lunch. I knew that would piss her off! Jules says maybe they don’t need Kate’s help, and Kate storms off in a huff.

Andi and Jules feel bad, but they know Kate will be fine. She doesn’t care about this wedding stuff, right? That’s right when they notice that the wedding magazine Kate was reading has her name and address on the cover. If Kate has a subscription to a bridal magazine then Kate cares about weddings. The other two feel bad, like they have crushed a little girl’s dreams…but pregnant Andi still wants her focaccia.

The next scene is pretty festive – it’s Will, all strung up in Christmas lights. The strands are used to tie his wrists and ankles to the bed posts, but the real winner is his Christmas light codpiece. It’s more like a pair of underwear, fashioned out of twinkly light strands, but I enjoy the visual of it as a codpiece. I can’t help but remember the whipped cream bikini scene from Van Der Beek’s cinematic masterpiece Varsity Blues!

Will is trying to roll with the predicament, but he’s out of his league. (I wanted to twist that cliché into another Varsity Blues reference but I got lazy, sorry) Annika never even makes it to the bed, because Will let out her indoor cat when he opened the window earlier. Anyone with indoor cats knows that you have to have screens on your windows, duh. So she throws a trench coat on over her matching bra and panties set and goes out searching for her escaped cat. Will is left alone, restrained and blinking bright rainbow hues.

There’s another commercial break and then we’re back to the tennis game. Lowell and Bobby are fine with the weird gynecological insults, but the old doctors take things too far. They trash talk Olivia Newton John and make fun of Lowell for not having gone to college. Shit just got real! Bobby decides beating these douches is totally worth it, and he tells Lowell to unleash the beast. It is ON now. Suddenly we are in a music video from the 90s, and the boys have won. Champagne is spraying and rap music is playing, what a time to be alive. They’ve won the coveted Golden Vulva!

Poor Will is still all tied up with nowhere to go, but luckily his toes can reach his phone. He tries to tell Siri to call Bobby, but his phone thinks he wants to call Mommy. This scene could have gone really gross but instead they played it pretty calm. That’s good, because a cheesy, awkward scene involving parents and sex games during the third episode would have sunk this show. What actually happens isn’t that much better, unfortunately. The cat returns through the open window and makes a beeline for Will’s bright light mankini! I could have done without that but I bet some people thought it was hilarious.

The next scene ends up being really sweet. Andi and Jules surprise Kate with an “early wedding”, just like she always dreamed off. It has all of the elements that she was previously determined to force into Jules’ wedding. Kate tries to play it off like she doesn’t care about any of that stuff, but that magazine subscription was the nail in the coffin. Her secret is out.

Kate: Okay, fine. I’ll share. I do want what you guys have, okay? Can I jump off this roof now?

Andi: Kate, you’re going to have a wedding, and it’s going to be beautiful.

Kate: Yeah but I don’t even have…I don’t know if I’ll ever…

Jules: You will. So don’t give up on it, because we haven’t.

Kate is really moved by the sweet gesture, but her joy is tempered some when she finds out that they used her credit card to pay for the whole thing. As a television viewer I found this scene to be really gratifying. I’ve spent nine years commiserating with Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother as searched for his The One. I could relate to him, of course, but it’s nice to see the female perspective. I hope the reception to this scene is as positive as people were to Ted expressing the same things.

The last scene of tonight’s episode shows Will, still in bed. Still tied up. Still blinking. Now it’s nighttime, so the lights are really shining bright. The two couples arrive to gawk – and rescue him – but Kate isn’t with them. Will appreciates that, although he does get annoyed when they threaten to inspect the lights until they find the burnt out bulb. Will thanks them for not bringing Kate along to witness his humiliation, but he spoke too soon. Kate arrives and Will tells her to bring it on with as many shots as she’s got.

Kate takes a deep breath and delivers six rapid fire holiday puns:

Looks like Christmas came early this year! Oh come all ye faithful! Did you go down her chimney? Did she go up your chimney?! Where’d your ho ho ho go? Look, it’s Rudolph the blue balled reindeer!

Then she adds insult to injury and makes the whole group pose around Will for her Christmas card photo. Like I said, these two need to get a room. Next week’s previews indicate that Kate sleeps with a male prostitute by accident. That sounds worth checking out, and tonight’s laughs sealed the deal for me. I will be giving this show at least two more episodes, how about you?

FWBL featured photo

Friends With Better Lives S1E2 “Window Pain” Episode Review (#FWBL)

We begin with the whole group in Bobby and Andi’s living room. Will announces that he is officially single and ready to mingle. It’s been four months to the day since he signed his divorce papers, and he’s ready to dive back in.

I was already confused by this episode because Andi is clearly pregnant and she was not clearly pregnant as of the last episode. But that episode was when Will’s ex served him the divorce papers, so now the timeline makes sense.

Will reveals that he hasn’t asked a girl out on a date since 1998, and Kate doubts his ability to handle modern dating. She offers to be his wing woman, but Will thinks he can do just fine on his own. He’s a 35 year old handsome doctor, after all. Kate is not convinced and predicts that this will end with him “crying in the shower while masturbating”.

The next scene is right after pizza has been delivered. This living room is starting to feel comfortable to me as a viewer. We are seeing it as the everyday hub of the group, and that’s an important location – and concept – to get right.

Back to the pizza. Everyone is having pepperoni, except Jules and Lowell who are sharing a “meat-free, cheese-free, fun-free soy pizza”. When Lowell leaves the room to get drinks, Jules gets right in Bobby’s face and says, “Let me smell your meat”. She might be a vegetarian for Lowell, but she misses the smell of meat real bad.

Kate points out that Jules always turns into the guys that she dates.

  • Dated Canadian guy, started saying “aboot”
  • Dated British guy, started a soccer riot
  • Dated a pothead, sat around all day eating Hot Pockets and not following conversations

Jules protests that she’s just open to new experiences, but she really loves her new healthy lifestyle. It’s pretty believable until Lowell brings out Kombucha, which is apparently a type of fermented tea.

Then Andi emerges from the baby’s room and has an announcement:

Oh my God it’s started. I can smell everything. That pizza smells gross, that diarrhea you’re drinking smells gross, and Bobby you smell really, really gross.

Andi is in the super smell phase of her pregnancy, which means her hormones have kicked in and she can indeed smell everything. The next smell she notices causes her to question which one of the dudes went to a strip club today. There’s a moment of silence, and then Kate tentatively raises her hand. When she receives surprised looks in return she just shrugs and says, “I like looking at dongs”.

Next we are with Will in the cheese section of the grocery store. He’s trying to hit on ladies by imparting smooth bits of cheese and wine based knowledge. Kate was right when she predicted that this would be a problem for him.

Now it’s the next day, and Kate is having lunch with Jules. Kate offers Jules a bite of her burger, and naturally Jules can’t resist just one taste. When she’s offered a second bite, though, Jules really gets into it. She rips the burger out of Kate’s hands and transforms into Brooklyn Decker’s Carl’s Jr./Hardy’s commercial self.

She takes a big bite, and then pulls her hair down from a bun and tosses it back and forth. Wind appears from out of nowhere, blowing off her scarf and making her hair blow back like she’s on a windy beach in slow motion. The music turns raunchy as Jules moans her appreciation for the delicious burger. This is is like the R-rated version of Marshall’s ode to the perfect burger on How I Met Your Mother!

Kate observes that the burger might be enjoying this as much as Jules is. Then a huge blob of mayo shoots out of the burger and onto the table, and Kate concedes that the burger might actually be enjoying it more.

We’re back at the house now, and Jules is lying – poorly – about having a salad for lunch. Will casually asks what Kate is doing that weekend, because he thought maybe they could go to a bar together. It takes him a minute to break down, but he admits he could use her help.

Andi emerges with her super nose on the hunt for bacon. She can smell-tell that someone had a bacon cheeseburger and she needs to pinpoint the source. She tries to back off when she realizes Jules is the culprit, but it’s too late. Jules looks super guilty and confesses that she ate the burger – and she loved it.

Poor Lowell is heartbroken that she lied to him, but he doesn’t mind that she loves meat, like, so hard. He just wants honesty between them. Jules apologizes, Lowell does some sort of clearing the air gesture like he’s having a spasm, and they survive their first fight.

Andi comes downstairs – when did she go upstairs, I didn’t even notice? – and pulls Bobby aside. She’s moved into a new phase…

The super horny, I want you to do me RIGHT now phase.

That is new, I like it.

So get rid of everyone, meet me upstairs, I’ll get started

Yeah but how are you going to get started without…ohhh

Yes!

And with that, Bobby kicks everyone the hell out of his house.We end up at the bar with Will and Kate. Kate leads with some solid advice:

A woman decides if she wants to sleep with you in the first five seconds. Whatever you say in that first moment clinches the deal.

Despite this advice, Will totally blows his first attempt. Kate takes the lead for his second attempt, but he screws up that effort as well. New strategy becomes that he says as little as possible, and she gets him laid.

Awkward Will trying not to talk too much equals Thor. I was surprised to realize this, but there was an uncanny Thorness about him when he said “I am Will. I hail from New…” Luckily Kate interrupted and sent him off for beers. She chit chats with the girl they’ve met – Chaz? Jazz? Let’s go with Chaz.

Chaz reminds Kate of herself, and she also compliments Kate on her amazing eyes. When Will returns, Kate makes her exit and reminds Chaz that he’s a man of few words. Chaz finds this sexy (it might be the alcohol talking) even though Will is basically responding monosyllabically at this point. Chaz reveals that she wants Will – but she wants Kate as well. She is very clear about how she wants to have sex with both of them.

Will doesn’t think this is a good idea, but Chaz silences his protests with a kiss. Suddenly Will is on board with this threesome idea! This should be an interesting set up, given the chemistry between Will and Kate, and their love/hate relationship.

Will doesn’t actually tell Kate what’s going on, though. He just says that Kate drove him there, so she needs to drive him and (drunk) Chaz back to her house. Kate mutters about how she’s such a good friend, it’s like there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for him. That’s what Will is counting on!

When we check in on Andi and Bobby they’ve just finished a seriously intense lovemaking session. Bobby feels like he could sleep or twelve hours, but Andi is ready to go again. She just had an amazing orgasm, why would she want to stop? Bobby explains that marathon sex night after night has left him exhausted, but Andi says he can stop when she says so.

Now I guess we are Chaz’s house, and she’s having a very sexy conversation with Will:

I know you’re a man of few words, but don’t worry. Tonight you won’t be using your mouth for talking.

That makes me want to raise my eyebrow like this. (Will raises one eyebrow)

Kate has used the restroom and is ready to leave, but Will begs her to stay. He still avoids the truth, and this time says she’s his good luck charm. When Kate is alone with Chaz she explains that Will is a little nervous, so she should make the first move. Kate thinks she is telling Chaz how to score with Will, but Chaz thinks she is hearing instructions for their menage a trois. So Chaz goes for it and kisses Kate.

Kate wriggles free and runs to Will. She thinks that she was so seductive that Chaz wants her now. Will explains that Chaz was looking for a “two-for” and Kate looks genuinely horrified.

Kate, I’m asking you for one little favor. Remember that time I drove you to the airport?

How is this the same?

It was rush hour!

Will wants Kate to play along up to second base or so, but Kate is outta there. Will pulls a Hail Mary and confesses that he’s never slept with anyone but his ex-wife, Val. He’s an almost virgin. He begs Kate to “help Little Will make a new friend”.

Kate reluctantly agrees, but she has conditions.

My clothes stay on. And also – I’m upstairs (motions to top of body), you’re downstairs (motions to bottom of body) and NEVER the twain shall meet.

Will thinks this won’t be a problem, because Chaz won’t be focusing on Kate anyway. Will says that Kate is the appetizer, and he’s the entree. Kate laughs, but then repeats “appetizer?” to herself and pretty much says oh hell no.

The next thing we hear is a man saying “oh my God, I’m having a real orgasm, wow”. I wasn’t sure who it was at first, but we quickly discover it is Bobby faking an orgasm to appease Andi.

Bobby is just exhausted, but Andi thinks she’s gross and huge and therefore Bobby isn’t turned on by her anymore. Bobby explains that there’s literally nothing left – he tried to cry in the middle and no tears came out. Andi suggests that they cuddle, but she quickly grows bored and leaves to go sit on the dryer.

 

Now we’re back at the scene of the potential threesome. Chaz is making out with Will, but her hand is on Kate’s thigh. Kate has to interrupt to see which one of them Chaz is most into. This quickly becomes a verbal battle, and Chaz notices that they have amazing sexual tension. She wants to see Will and Kate kiss, and so do I.

But it’s too soon, and this ruined the mood for both Kate and Will. They leave, and the moment has passed…for now.

FWBL fart scene

The show closes out with Andi and Bobby in bed together again. It’s been 24 hours and Bobby is refreshed and ready to go! But there’s a hiccup, which is really more a burp: Andi has moved on to a new phase. She appreciates that Bobby still finds her attractive, but she also has to fart. And that’s how the second episode ends.

What did you think about the show? I think it stands on its own even if you didn’t watch the pilot episode. It makes more sense if you watch the pilot, but it’s not necessary. I enjoy that it has quick wit and dirty jokes but also touches on real relationship issues. Will you tune in with me next week?

FWBL group

Friends With Better Lives S1E100 “Pilot” Episode Review (#FWBL)

*Friends With Better Lives  Monday 4/14/14 at 8:30 pm*

The new CBS sitcom Friends With Better Lives (FWBL) premiered two weeks ago, right after the series finale of How I Met Your Mother. I personally waited to watch it, because I didn’t want my feelings about one show’s finale influencing my thoughts on another show’s premiere. I’m really glad I went that route, because this new show could be a little gem among the other prime time sitcom offerings.

The first episode opens with a couple cuddling under a blanket. They seem to be breathing heavy, and they mention how at how point it got so loud that they were afraid they would wake the kid up. We assume they’ve just been intimate, but we quickly find they were really just watching an episode of Homeland. This is how we meet Andi and Bobby.

Another character appears at the top of the stairs – Will. I will try to remember to call him Will and not Dawson but no promises. Will is in full bicycle attire, because he likes to ride past his ex’s house like a crazy stalker on a regular basis. We learn that Val, the ex, slept with their couple’s therapist. Will says it was an honest mistake, but Bobby questions how that is even possible. Andi mentions “I accidentally sat on a carrot once”. Okay then!

We learn that Bobby and Will have been best friends since they were 23 – so about 10 years, I guess. Bobby says this means he can live with them for as long as he needs, but Andi adds “within reason”. Then we have our sitcom intro sequence!

The music plays as we see pictures of the characters, and the hashtags that characterize them. Andi and Bobby are #married with kids. Jules and Lowell just got #engaged. Will is #divorced, while Kate is #very very single. As of this moment in the first five minutes of the pilot episode, Andi and Bobby have one baby, but that’s obviously going to change soon. (This is also indicated in the previews). We haven’t met Jules, Lowell, or Kate yet, but they’re on deck.

The next scene opens with Andi, Bobby, and Will watching TV. Andi is using her breast pump and Will is totally comfortable with this. Andi notes that his comfort level is a clear indication that he has been living with them for too long. Jules then breezes into the house and says she came straight from the airport. She’s been at a yoga retreat and she met a guy!

I’m in love! And I know what you’re thinking, I say that all the time but this time it’s real and I know I always say this time it’s real but this time it’s really real!

Apparently her and her new guy, an Australian named Lowell, had sex for twelve hours straight. In Andi and Bobby’s sleeping bag, which they longer want returned to them. Then Kate shows up and vents about her latest dating mishap. She went out to dinner with one of Bobby’s friends from medical school…a friend that owns a bird…who he took to dinner…and the bird is incontinent. That’s a pretty clear deal breaker for most ladies, so I feel for Kate.

Kate won’t let anyone else talk, and she continues on about receiving “Linda Altman’s wedding invitation”. This means that out of their entire sorority, including the girl who such an alcoholic that she once defecated in a closet, Kate and Jules are the only single ones left. Except Jules isn’t single anymore… She tries to explain this to Kate, but Will interrupts to give his opinion. He thinks that Kate is still looking for the same dude that she was looking for in her twenties.

He also thinks that Kate is too superficial, which Kate of course denies. No one wants to be labeled as superficial. But then we see a montage of Kate explaining why different dates have failed. Reasons included:

  • “Bald”

  • “Hairy”

  • “Tank top”

  • “Guys…his wiener smells weird”

  • “Birthmark”

  • “Red hair…everywhere”

  • “One ball. One big ball”

Despite evidence to the contrary, Kate says that the main reason things didn’t work with those men is because they weren’t nice. She swears she’s just looking for a nice guy. Also, in case you were wondering, the one ball was right in the middle, “coming at me like the boulder in Raiders of the Lost Arc”. Yowza.

At this point it is worth mentioning that Will and Kate have obvious chemistry. I think the powers that be over at CBS assumed James Van Der Beek would be the scene stealing character, but I suspect Zoe Lifter-Jones will take that honor. She has a rich voice that gives her the feel of a ‘40s actress, and there’s something undeniably Katharine Hepburnesque about her.

So she seems amazing, and I love Dawson, of course, and together they have a great connection. They’re both sarcastic, they both give each other a hard time, but they both are clearly very sensitive inside. It’s an obvious setup, sure, but it’s a nice one that we can look forward to. If they play this right it will be quite a while before we get a chance to see them in a physical or romantic relationship, but it will be worth the wait.

Back to Will and Kate arguing. Aw, Will and Kate, I just got that. Like the royal couple, but presumably more slutty. Will says that if Kate is really just looking for a nice guy, she should go out with his friend Jimmy from high school.

Normal hair, normal hands…I’ve never smelled his wiener, but, super nice guy.

Kate agrees to give him a chance, and the next scene after the commercial is her showing up at the restaurant to meet him. She doesn’t know what he looks like, but she finds him after one false start. He seems great! Handsome, funny, and easy to talk to.

FWBL vegan

Now we jump over to Andi and Bobby, who are out to dinner with Jules. They’re at her new boyfriend’s restaurant. Lowell is a great catch – he’s Australian so he has a hot accent, he’s affectionate and passionate, he’s a vegetarian, a Buddhist, a cook, a singer, a gardener, and a lover. His place only serves vegan food, including the perplexing sounding nut cheese (it’s made from cashews).

So Lowell is nice but he’s also that guy…you know, the guy that lectures you about eating meat and the guy that doesn’t own a TV. He probably pulls out his guitar at every party. You know the guy I mean!

Lowell has made Jules a necklace from the grains of sand that she was standing on at the beach when he saw her for the first time. Andi is a little bowled over by Lowell’s charm and sex appeal and incredibly romantic gestures. In comparison, her relationship with Bobby seems a little blah. They met at a bar that was burned down in an insurance fire, so it’s not quite the same type of story.

When Lowell asks how long they have been married, they respond that it will be seven years as of September 14th. That’s today! Andi and Bobby have forgotten their own anniversary. Lowell suggests celebrating the day with nut cheese for everyone! He’s a little crunchy and maybe obnoxious, but he’s clearly a good guy at heart.

Next we jump back to Kate and Jimmy’s first meeting – their first date. Lowell and Kate have a fascinating exchange:

So…how are you still single?

I think men are intimidating by me.

Oh really? What’s so intimidating?

Well I went to Harvard Business School, I own the hottest social media company in the country, I haven’t cried since 1987 and I’m phenomenal in bed.

Why are we still here?

They get up to leave, but uh-oh…we see why Will set Kate up with him. Jimmy is short. Real short. Really extra short. This isn’t a bad thing to everyone, but it’s obviously a problem for Kate. She makes an excuse and takes off.

Jumping back to the vegan restaurant – Lowell is asking Bobby about how often he and his wife make love. Lowell reveals that for him and Jules it is about 4-5 times a week, but Jules pleasures him everyday. Andi can’t comprehend why, and Jules says, “Because he likes it and so do I”. So far this show is dirtier than How I Met Your Mother but not as dirty as Two and a Half Men. I hope the humor and plot stay tweaked on the HIMYMish end because 2 ½ Men is just too much for me. So far so good, though, right?

Bobby says that Andi never gives him oral sex, and Lowell asks if he misses it. Bobby says, “I do now, very much!”

Cut to Jules and Lowell in her apartment. They’re on her couch, making out pretty hard. It’s clear they aren’t just watching Homeland like Andi and Bobby were. They can’t imagine forgetting their anniversary, because they know exactly how long it has been since they met, down to the minute and second. These two are still in that sweet, hot and heavy stage of a new relationship. It’s pretty cute.

God I love you!

I love you too!

I want you all the time!

I want you all the time!

Let’s get married!

Okay!

So now they’re engaged, right? It isn’t clear if this was a spur of the moment statement or something he actually intended. It reminds me of the Will & Grace episode where Grace goes through a similar scenario with her boyfriend. She laments that she always thought that when her future husband proposed she would be holding a bouquet of wildflowers – not her own ankles!

Anyway, now it’s the next day and we are at Will and Bobby’s OB/GYN private practice. Will is triumphant because he has a voicemail from Val and he thinks it means they’re getting back together. Bobby can’t really concentrate on that, though, because he’s worried about his marriage. Andi is upset that they both forgot their anniversary and she thinks they’re in a rut. Bobby realizes he needs to shake things up a bit, so books her a massage and plans a surprise party at their house for afterwards.

Kate shows up at the office and Will tries to get her to admit that she didn’t like Jimmy because he’s short. Will fires off numerous short jokes and innuendos but Kate holds strong and says she had a lovely time. Will asks why she left the date early, then, and Kate coolly replies that she didn’t feel well but that was no reflection on Jimmy.

Now we’re back at the house, as the surprise party is coming together. Andi is still at her massage. Lowell and Jules are there – Lowell totally IS that guy playing guitar at a party! I knew it! He’s singing about saving the environment and planting trees and he’s so well intentioned but also the worst, you know? Kate doesn’t have any idea who he is and she sums it up pretty succinctly:

Ugh, if I wanted to hear an idiot playing guitar I’d still be dating John Mayer.

This comment solidified my affection for Kate and her sense of humor. :)

Will is still trying to best Kate, so he surprises her by inviting Jimmy to the party. He pushes for Kate to talk to Jimmy, and Kate eventually gives in because she can’t think of any reason not to. She acts like his shortness is still no big deal, but then she looks down and sees his hand on her knee. She imagines that hand shrinking down to the size of a baby hand, and that’s what finally does her in. She jumps up and exclaims, “You win! I’m superficial!”

We hear Andi at the door, and the lights go out. She comes inside, and Bobby tries to turn the lights back on for the big ‘SURPRISE!!!” reveal. Only problem is that Andi wants to keep the lights off. She appreciate that Bobby is trying to spice things up a bit, and she’s ready to do her part. Bobby originally protests but then seems to just roll with it, but thankfully Kate says something and turns on the light.

Poor Andi is on her knees in front of her husband, clearly ready to pleasure him like she never does these days. She runs upstairs, mortified, because basically everyone they knew was downstairs to witness that moment. She has one question for Bobby before she disappears, though:

How long were you going to let me go on for?!

You know me…a minute? (He shrugs)

In the aftermath of that awkwardness the crowd breaks apart. Jules corners Lowell in the bathroom and asks to know what is going on. She says it’s okay if it just slipped out, but she needs to know if they are or aren’t getting married. Lowell says the truth is that he didn’t mean to propose. Jules tries to play it cool and says she knew that…but she’s crying. I barely know this character but I feel for her in this moment. But then…

I didn’t mean to propose because I didn’t want it to happen like that. My best decisions aren’t the ones I’ve thought about for a long time, they’re the ones I’ve made from my heart. Jules Tanner, will you marry me?

Yes! Is the ring made of sand, or…?

No, conflict free diamond.

Oh my God we’re engaged!

I’m happy for them! This couple also has good chemistry and you can easily see them as a good match. They’re both blonde and beautiful, but it’s more than that. They just have an ease with one another, tempered by a bit of giddy awkwardness because they haven’t known one another very long.

Meanwhile, the guests have all left and Kate is trying to convince Andi to come downstairs. Kate warns the group that Andi is very embarrassed, so they shouldn’t make fun of her. Will makes “head down” and “blown over” puns before letting it rest. Bobby is more apologetic:

I really am sorry. Especially for grabbing the back of your head like that, but that was just reflex.

Another envelope pusher there, eh?

Andi isn’t really upset – she recognizes that they both were doing what they could to bring some spontaneity back into their marriage. She laments,

We just have to face the fact that this is where we are right now. It’s not exciting, it’s not romantic, it just is what it is.

The doorbell rings, and it’s Val. Will is quick to open it, because he’s so excited that she’s going to admit she was wrong and ask him to get back together. We – the audience and all of Will’s friends – know that she isn’t likely here to reconcile. Sure enough, she wants a divorce. She says she planned to stay longer but this felt like a Band-Aid moment, where you rip it off fast so the pain goes away sooner.

Lowell is there with his trusty guitar and he breaks into song as soon as the door clicks shut. Kate stops him, and then asks if Bobby will please pay him so he will leave. Kate still doesn’t know who Lowell actually is. Jules excitedly explains that Lowell is her fiancé, but her voice lowers to a more somber tone as she notices the look on Kate’s face.

I’m sorry what? You’re engaged?

YES! Yes, we are, and I am incredibly happy, please don’t be mad.

(Kate’s eyes are incredibly wide and she is shocked)

Mad? No, that is…I have some questions but that is…great news. I am so happy for you.

(She pours the rest of a bottle of red wine into a huge glass)

Are you crying?

No.

You are, you are crying.

No, I am not. This is just my body’s very unexplainable reaction to how happy I am for you.

Really?

Absolutely. So I am the only single one. That is fine.

(Kate chugs from glass)

FWBL group

Will interjects and says, “You’re not the only one”. Obviously these two should end up together. He goes on to elaborate about Andi and Bobby’s relationship:

I’ve seen firsthand what an amazing couple you guys are. You’ve got an incredible kid. You support each other. You guys are solid. If you’re in a rut, then, God, I want to be in that rut someday.

The first episode ends with a group of friends at very different places in their lives. That has been done before, but it can be really engaging when it’s done well. Right now we have a married couple with a baby, and they are soon to have another on the way. Seven years of just the two of you and then two babies in quick succession – that’s a huge change. Parents and married couples will likely be able to relate to these two.

Then we have the newly engaged couple, still in the throes of puppy love. They are relatable to people who are at that place in their life, but also to single people. They’re an aspirational couple, because it all happened so fast. Their presence suggests that anyone could have their whole life change quickly and wonderfully.

Next is the divorced guy – he was done wrong, he isn’t quite over it, and he wants to have that something special again. A woman often fills that role, but I like that they have a guy as the one that was cheated on. Not because I wish something bad for men in general, but because men are so often portrayed as the villains of divorce. So his role is relatable to men and women. Breakups and betrayals aren’t gender specific anyway. Plus he’s Dawson so he’s a familiar face that many of us (ahem, me) already associate with the lovelorn.

Finally we have Kate, the other half of the swapped gender role friend set on this show. She’s rich, powerful, and single. She dates around, helms her own company, and holds her own. Those characteristics are often applied to a playboy male character; so again, it’s nice to see a bit of variety. She has a bit of a masculine edge at times – her wardrobe seems a bit inspired by Katharine Hepburn’s badass pant outfits – but she’s still very feminine. So again, relatable for many people.

There’s a sense of hope about this show, and a bit of chemistry crackling in the air. The characters feel real and we as viewers are left with the feeling that their universe continues when we’re not watching. That makes me really want to tune in for the next episode and hang out with these guys again.

Friends With Better Lives

FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES is a romantic comedy about six friends at different stages in their lives – married, divorced, newly engaged and single – who are outwardly happy, but secretly questioning if their friends have it better. Andi and Bobby are happily married with a toddler and another baby on the way, but at times long for the days when they had less responsibility and more fun; Will is newly single and preaching the bachelor lifestyle, but still pining for his ex-wife; Jules and Lowell are high on their passionate new relationship; and Kate has a successful career but may have a breakdown when she finds out her last remaining single friend, Jules, just got engaged. When it comes to relationships, these six friends are finding it a challenge to look at each other without wondering… who really has the better life?

STARRING:
Kevin Connolly (Bobby)
Majandra Delfino (Andi)
James Van Der Beek (Will)
Zoe Lister-Jones (Kate)
Brooklyn Decker (Jules)
Rick Donald (Lowell)

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:
Dana Klein, Dave Hemingson and Aaron Kaplan

CREATED BY:
Dana Klein

 

New Episode begins right after the Conclusion of HIMYM March 31st 2014

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