Dir. Nicholas Stoller
Streaming Platform: Netflix
Summary: Ethan and Lisa move to New York, which reunites them with their old friend group from college. College was twenty years ago, and they are all at different parts of their life and careers. The group consists of Ethan & Lisa, Sam & her husband, single-ish guy Nick, Max & Felix (until it’s just Max), and Marianne (and her boyfriend who is introduced later). The people specifically from college are highlighted. Ethan is a writer; Max is his agent. Lisa is an attorney who works at a law firm with an extreme frat boy culture- she hates it. Sam sells furniture (I think). Nick doesn’t do much of anything besides date women half his age, and Marianne is an actress who recently starred in a reverse-sex production of A Streetcar Named Desire. The catch is that despite being in marriages (Ethan & Lisa; Sam & her husband), Ethan and Sam have been hooking up since college, and consequently, they have been having a continued affair which continues to the current day.
It makes me want to watch a romantic comedy where the main characters begin single and find the loves of their lives and then go through a roller coaster with them but then end up together.
My review is definitely tainted by my own personal set of beliefs. So, I will do one part where I talk about that and then the other part will be technical things. Okay- let’s go!
So, story-wise and structure wise: no me gusta. As an audience member, I am uncertain of who I am supposed to really empathize with. I feel as if the writers of the show would like the audience to empathize with Ethan and Sam, hence how their hooking up beginning before either of their relationships. Yet, I can’t do that. I just question why they never managed to enter into a real relationship of their own, and I wonder as to why they bothered to begin actual relationships but continue their own secret thing on the side. Watching, that doesn’t make sense to me. I empathize more with Lisa, and the only reason I actually watched each episode of the show was to see if Lisa would find out. If she found out, I wanted to see how the show would handle that discovery. Alas, they make it more complicated as Lisa cheats on Ethan too with Nick. It’s almost as if it is taking away the audience’s ability to be upset for her so that they empathize with Ethan and Sam again. Besides the cheating, which is the main thing of the show, I’m not sure where the story is supposed to go. It’s also about the reuniting of these friends who reminiscence a lot and are more or less wishing that their college days were continuous. I don’t know how long you can milk that certain storyline. I couldn’t empathize with Sam pining for the past and not wanting to have a fortieth birthday party because I was already annoyed by her and Ethan. And just her in general- especially when she gave Lisa a lecture about love after almost being caught cheating. OOOH and again, just to stress, they’re all supposed to be friends. Lisa is supposed to be Sam’s friends, and whenever I see her try to be her friend on screen, I just dislike it. AnywayAnyway, I don’t find the storyline endearing enough, in terms of the friends being reunited or in terms of all the cheating going on.
Alright, on to technical!
The cinematography was great. Which is also a reason I kept watching. I did like the way it was film and how it looked. There was something that was special about it, and if I wasn’t so distracted by being mad at the story, I could tell you exactly what shots I mean haha. Anyway, I liked how it was low key lighting in many of the scenes. I suppose that added to the more grown-up feel of the show. Also, the show is witty in some ways, which comes through in the editing as well. It’s kind of odd because it almost doesn’t fit, but it does. Even when they’re in a random Jekyll and Hyde restaurant, it fits. The acting is also fantastic. Each character does feel like a different character, and I actually care a lot about Max. Especially when he is going through his stuff with Felix. Marianne becomes most endearing in the last episode, when it’s clear that she cares about her friends. It’s interesting to see Keegan-Michael Key in a different type of role, and he did a good job. Everyone really did, but special s/o to Lisa (Cobie Smulders). She’s very believable. It’s nice too how they set up different aspects of the characters personalities and refer to them throughout. For example, Ethan with his weird voices thing or the noises he makes when he plays tennis. The tennis scene with Max was actually pretty funny.
Anyway, to wrap it up: Technical aspects were pretty good, but I can’t get down with the story.
There are eight episodes now streaming.