I’ll admit: I cried at the ending of How I Met Your Mother last night. So when it was immediately followed by Friends With Better Lives, (introducing an entirely new cast of six new “friends”) it was probably, as they say, “too soon.” Still, I tried to get into it. And there were some amusing moments. But it’s going to take more than one episode to get me fully invested in this crew of dysfunctional people who all think the other ones have it better.
We first meet married couple Bobby (Kevin Connolly) and Andi. They are under a blanket on the couch, talking about how they were so loud they probably woke their child. “Should we do it again?” We hear the score from Homeland, and it’s clear they’re talking about TV, not sex. Their friend Will (James Van Der Beek) comes down the stairs in running clothes. His wife has recently cheated on him with their marriage counselor, and he’s temporarily living with Bobby and Andi. Every night, he runs by wife’s house. Next, we meet Jules (Brooklyn Decker) fresh from a yoga retreat where she has apparently fallen head-over-heels in love. Next, in comes Kate, a pale brunette who is irritated from her evening’s blind date. She’s disillusioned from the dating scene, and says out of their entire sorority, she and Jules are the only ones still single. Will tells her she should be less picky and superficial. She says she’s not superficial: Cut to a montage of her repeatedly walking through the front door with a complaint about every guy she dates, “Too hairy.” “Red hair.” “Birthmark.” She says the real problem with all those guys was that they weren’t nice. (This actress, Zoe Lister Jones, is amazing, by the way. Best part of the show.) Will offers to set her up with his friend who just moved to LA.
Kate meets Will’s friend, Jimmy, at a restaurant. At first, all seems to be going well. He asks how a woman like her can be single. She says she thinks men are intimidated by her: “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.” He says, “Why are we still here?” They both jump up…and he’s half her height.
Bobby, Andi, and Jules are are her new boyfriend’s restaurant, Namaste. Bobby is incredulous that there is no meat on the menu, and cheese made from cashews. Jokes about “milking nuts” ensue. Lowell, blonde, Australian, and perfect, comes over and kisses Jules. Bobby asks Lowell to tell them about himself. He says, “I’m a buddhist. I practice transcendental meditation. I cook. I garden.” And then, gazing at Jules, “I love.” Andi is swooning. Lowell asks Bobby about himself, and he says,”I’m an OB/GYN.” Andi pipes in, “We have a son, Charlie. And we love Homeland.” Lowell doesn’t know what that is. “I don’t have a tele,” he says. Instead, he spends his spare time hand-crafting jewelry for Jules. He gives he a necklace made from the sand she was standing on when they first me. Bobby says, “We met at a bar that burnt down in an insurace fire. Wasn’t a whole lot left to make a necklace.” When Lowell asks how long they’ve been married, they tell him seven years. And then realize it’s their anniverary. Oops. Lowell says, let’s dig a little deeper here. How often do you have sex. It’s clear the answer is not very often. In contrast, Lowell and Jules have sex five times a week and she performs a certain unamed sex act “every day.” Andi says, “Why?” Bobby asks, “As in, all of the days? Monday, Tuesday…”
Later, Lowell and Jules are hooking up and in the heat of passion he says, “Let’s get married.” She says, “okay!”
Bobby and Will are at work. (It’s really hard to believe they are obstetricians.) Kate drops by but refuses to admit to Will that she had an issue with Jimmy’s height. “Really?” says Will. “Because Jimmy said you cut the evening…short.”
Bobby is throwing a surprise party to celebrate their anniversary. Jules tells him that she might or might not be engaged. Lowell is singing and playing the guitar. “Ugh,” Kate groans. “If I wanted to hear an idiot playing guitar I’d still be dating John Mayer.” sWill has invited Jimmy just to provoke Kate into admitting she is superficial when it comes to guys.
Andi pulls into the driveway and Bobby turns out the lights and tells everyone to be quiet. She comes inside and tells him not to turn on the lights and then gets on her knees to perform a certain sex act. The lights go on, and she is mortified.
Jules and Lowell are in the guest bathroom. She says, “I need to know what’s going on here because I distinctly heard you say ‘let’s get married.’ And it’s okay if it just slipped out, I just need to know whether we are or we aren’t getting married.” He says, “The truth is, I didn’t mean to propose.” She’s like oh, of course. Obviously. He clarifies, “I didn’t mean to propose because I didn’t want it to happen like that.” He gets down on one knee and proposes with a ring.
Andi re-joins the group, and Will makes double-entendre jokes. And then Val, his estranged wife shows up at the door. He thinks she is there to make amends, but instead she presents him with divorce papers.
Jules tells everyone she and Lowell are engaged. Kate pours herself and entire glass of wine and denies that she is crying. “So, I’m the only single one. That is fine.” Will says, “Not the only one.” He then goes on to say how impressed he is with Andi and Bobby’s marriage. “If you’re in a rut, then I want to be in a rut someday.”
As I mentioned in the beginning, it was difficult to segue from the beloved How I Met Your Mother finale into something completely new — and very different. It’s not as clever as HIMYM. Too many cheap sex jokes. But the actors are good, and it’s difficult to judge a show by the pilot. Best case scenario, a certain charm develops over time. Worst scenario, the writers depend on jokes about sexless marriages and desperate women. Time will tell. The next episode airs in two weeks so check back to see how things develop.