Review: ‘Friends from College’ an annoying bunch

The six pals who make up the new Netflix series are no ‘Friends’

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

There’s a problem with the friends on the new Netflix series “Friends from College”: you don’t want to spend much time with any of them.

The series follows six pals from Harvard 20 years after their graduation. As it starts out, two of them — Ethan (Detroiter Keegan-Michael Key) and Sam (Annie Parisse) — are having an affair, a flame from their college days that never burned out. They’re both married to others — Ethan to Lisa (Cobie Smulders), another college pal, and Sam to John (Greg Germann), who’s outside the group — and are working to keep their affair a secret. Matters are complicated when Ethan and Lisa move to New York, where Sam lives, along with the rest of their college crew.

There we meet the rest of the gang: Max (Fred Savage), Nick (Nat Faxon) and Marianna (Jae Suh Park), who mostly play background to the Ethan-Sam-Lisa love triangle. But as Ethan and Sam sneak around, often right under the noses of their respective spouses, are we supposed to be rooting for them? Rooting against them? The series isn’t sure, and there’s not enough exploration of the moral complexities of the situation to be interesting and not enough laughs to cover them up. “Friends from College” almost immediately becomes a hate-watch.

The series comes from “Neighbors” director Nicholas Stoller, who exec-produced the series and directs all eight episodes. He’s got enough clout to bring in cameos from Ike Barinholtz, Kate McKinnon and Seth Rogen. So why isn’t “Friends from College” better? You end up identifying more with the people from outside the group, looking on as these people force friendships with folks from their past they’ve clearly outgrown. As viewers, we know how they feel.

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‘Friends from College’


Now streaming on Netflix