March 30, 2012

THE SKED PILOT REVIEW: “Best Friends Forever”

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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BEST FRIENDS FOREVER:  Premieres Wednesday 8:30PM on NBC – If Nothing Else Is On…
NBC isn’t exactly swinging for the multigender fences with BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, the newest entry into the deathtrap known as the network’s Wednesday night schedule.  The term “chick show” is rightly viewed as perjorative, but it’s hard to avoid when describing BFF, a show that, on the basis of its pilot, makes Army Wives look like Battleship.

Written by its stars Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham (who also has the same first names as the characters they play), and with a pilot directed by Fred Savage, BFF debuts with a “premise pilot,” so it remains to be seen whether it will develop beyond the single joke that forms the spine of its initial episode.  Jessica and Lennon have been–well, they’re been really close buddies for a very long time.  When the show begins, Jessica has been married for 3 years and living in a different city, but the opening scene has her getting her divorce papers, and after that she’s back in New York, where she moves in (“temporarily,” which in sit-com terms means just about forever) with Lennon and Lennon’s boyfriend Joe (Luka Jones), who’s recently moved in.  Also on hand is Jessica’s ex-boyfriend Rav (Stephen Schneider), who works at a nearby bar.
The substance and humor of BFF all stems from one idea:  the uneasy cohabitation of Joe with the 2 girly gals.  That’s a sturdy enough foundation for a sit-com –the reverse situation was more or less the premise of New Girl–but in the pilot it’s all expressed through the most obvious cliches.  Jessica and Lennon watch Steel Magnolias together, obsess about whether khaki pants make Jessica look overweight, and immediately start rearranging the furniture, while Joe eats chili, plays (and designs) video games, and organizes his weekends around watching football.  Nobody is individualized in any way, or has any surprising quirks. (There’s nothing here like the New Girls scene where the guys got into watching Dirty Dancing themselves.)  Even the supposedly “edgy” dialogue is overly familiar:  after 2 Broke Girls, Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea, a scene where the characters talk about trimming their pubic hair is about as shocking as Lucy and Ethel cooking up a harebrained scheme on I Love Lucy.
The plotting is equally hackneyed.  The central plot development of the pilot has Jessica discovering what she thinks is an engagement ring in Joe’s file cabinet, and desperately trying to make sure the two of them don’t get married–but guess what, it all turns out to be a big misunderstanding, and there’s a big group hug at the end. 
Best Friends Forever isn’t quite worth giving up on just yet.  Parham and St. Clair have an ease together that carries some charm, and there’s a brief stretch in the pilot where the characters yell at each other like they mean it, before everything lapses back into safe sit-commy territory.  If the show is to have any future, though, it’ll have to quickly expand beyond its ho-hum premise and build into something that isn’t just the ladies’ version of Man Up.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."