Premieres Monday, March 31 at 8pm on CBS.
When How I Met Your Mother concludes its ninth and final season tonight, CBS will follow up the little comedy that could with a new hangout comedy borrowing from the Friends model. Friends With Better Lives, however, fails to match the unique brand of humor that its predecessor dished out, even in its advancing years.
RECOMMENDED: Winter TV premieres
The premise behind the gender-split ensemble of Friends With Better Lives is that each member of the thirtysomething buddy group is a different place in his or her life. Of course, those positions are entirely determined by their marital status. Bobby and Andi (Kevin Connolly and Majandra Delfino) are the broken-in married couple with kids who are concerned that their parental duties have put them in a romantic rut. Bobby's business partner Will (James Van Der Beek) is on the verge of getting divorced. Andi's sorority sister Jules (Brooklyn Decker) is in a whirlwind romance with hot Aussie Lowell (Rick Donald), whom she just met on a retreat. And then there's poor single girl Kate (Zoe Lister-Jones), who's lamenting that she'll be last of her girlfriends to get married.
The humor in Friends With Better Lives is hopelessly tired and rehashed. Every joke feels like something you've heard at least a few times before. The opening gag—in which an apparantly lusty encounter between Bobby and Andi on the couch is revealed to be the couple breathlessly catching up on episodes of Homeland—appeared on NBC's About a Boy a few weeks ago.
With little to laugh at, it becomes painfully obvious that this cast of characters is hopelessly dull, bearing little personality beyond their relationship status and profession. It's unfortunate, as FWBL boasts some decent talent that gets terribly wasted. While Van Der Beek more than proved his comic chops playing self-obsessed version of himself on Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, he's barely given a punchline here. Lister-Jones's Kate does the best at rising above her meager material, but given her character's prediliction for guzzling down over-filled glasses of wine, she'd fare better with folks on Cougar Town.
While it may have dwindled in its later years, How I Met Your Mother surely deserves a better successor than this tepid buddy comedy.