After the Bosom Buddies-style nightmare that was Work It, there was some fear that NBC's new sitcom Best Friends Forever would be Three's Company: 2012. Given that the series revolves around two best female friends living with a male roommate, these reservations were not initially unwarranted, but after watching BFF's pilot, I'm happy to report the sitcom is a whole 'nother show and, unexpectedly, refreshingly funny.
For starters, no one in BFF is hiding from a landlord or pretending to be gay. Here, newly-divorced Jessica (Jessica St. Clair) flies across the country to crash with her best friend Lennon (Lennon Parham -- where do they come up with these characters' names?) for some comfort and support. Lennon's boyfriend Joe (Luka Jones) has recently moved in with her and has a hard time navigating his relationship against Lennon and Jessica's close friendship. This plot could easily be disastrous or lame and fall prey to the standard sexist tropes we see in similar comedies, but BFF actually has pretty great writing and no vendetta against women. (Take that, Lee Aronsohn!) Scot Armstrong (who I most fondly associate with Old School) serves as the executive producer of the series, along with St. Clair and Parham, Alexa Junge (Friends and United States of Tara), Fred Savage (yes, the Wonder Years kid who is now the genius director behind Party Down) and relative newcomer Ravi Nandan.
Unlike ABC's recently-failed Man Up!, BFF isn't obsessed with gender or sex, but instead embraces a pattern that Up All Night does so well, in that it weighs men and women equally without "emasculating" the male lead, allowing him to respect his wife instead of having an obsession with being an alpha male, or whatever it is How to Be a Gentleman tried to say about "modern" men. Rather than writing the characters based on their sex organs, BFF first examines how people understand different circumstances regardless of their gender, and thinks about the lady versus dude issue later. Because of the writers' abilities to move away from gender-obsession, we're treated to clever jokes, an actual storyline, tender moments and this fairly excellent line of dialogue: "There's a new baby in my house and I don't like the way it smells!"
The relationships between the central characters are fun to explore as well. I'm not quite as sold as the romance that's clearly budding between Jessica and her ex, Rav (Stephen Schneider), but in 23 minutes, I'm already looking forward to seeing the central trio hang out together in a Happy Endings or New Girl kind of way. I don't need BFF to solve issues about what it means to be a man, woman or friend in this world -- I just want to watch funny people interact with each other and bake homemade scoops.
Considering the talent of the cast, I feel comfortable saying this show could actually be pretty good, assuming it's given a better chance to succeed than Bent received. St. Clair and Parham both have Parks and Recreation credits on their resumes, which is about all I need to know to be sold on their comedic abilities, and the two have natural chemistry. While Jessica's character reminded me a little bit too much of a less-miserable version of Dee from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, her last few moments in the BFF premiere makes me think that there's a lot more originality to come in this show than I might have initially anticipated. I also have a feeling Daija Owens (who plays nine-year-old neighbor Queenetta Carpenter) is probably going to be my favorite child actor this season -- because that smelly baby line killed me.
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