Friends from College

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Friends from College TV Poster Image
Sparkling middle-aged-friends dramedy has sex, language.

Parents say

Not yet rated

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive messages

Two of the group of six friends are having a long-term affair (both are married). They struggle with guilt, but have kept it up for 20 years. Others in the friend group keep their secret for them, and resent it. 

Positive role models & representations

All of the friends are complicated, real characters. Ethan and Lisa are probably the main characters in this ensemble comedy, and both are gainfully employed, smart, and loving. However, they do have serious flaws they struggle with (like real people). A friend group is repeatedly described as competitive with lots of "sniping." 


A male-female couple has sex standing up with thrusting and groaning; he is nude with his rear visible at length. Characters talk frankly about having sex without a condom; the woman ultimately decides he should go out and buy one. A man has been having a long-term affair without his wife's knowledge. Jokes about testicles, body parts, sexual positions. 


Strong language includes many uses of "s--t," and "f--k," "motherf---er," "a--hole," "bitch." One preschooler calls another a "c--t" and his dad thinks it's funny (the word is used multiple times). A man jokes about wanting to be able to say "that's so gay" and "retarded."  


These friends are all upwardly mobile, with nice houses and apartments, fancy cars, expensive clothing, parties with servants doing the cooking and cleaning up. One couple struggles to keep up with the financial pace, panicking when considering pricey fertility treatments. 

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Adults drink wine and cocktails at dinners and parties. Two characters share a cigarette at a dinner party. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Friends from College is a dramedy about (you guessed it) a group of six middle-aged friends who went to college together. Two of the six are cheating on their spouses with each other, an affair that has spanned 20 years. We see them having sex, standing up and on a bed, with moaning and thrusts; he is visible at length nude from the rear. There's frank talk about condoms, body parts, and sex in general. Cursing is often meant to be salty instead of offensive but includes many uses of "s--t" and "f--k," "motherf---er," "a--hole," and "bitch," and one preschooler calls another a "c--t," a word that's repeated multiple times. Adults drink wine and cocktails at parties; two share a cigarette. All of the friends lead luxurious lifestyles with nice houses, expensive clothing, and catered parties with hired help. 

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What's the story?

It's 20 years after graduation -- but these FRIENDS FROM COLLEGE still have complicated bonds. Struggling yet critically acclaimed novelist Ethan (Keegan Michael Key) is married to attorney Lisa (Cobie Smulders), and trying to have a baby. But that hasn't stopped him from carrying on a two-decades-long affair with brittle and bitter designer Sam (Annie Parisse), who's also married and has kids with boorish, bro-ish Jon (Greg Germann). When Lisa and Ethan move to New York City, the college-friend group, which also includes Ethan's agent, Max (Fred Savage), supportive Marianne (Jae Suh Park), and struggling Nick (Nat Faxon), is reunited once more. But with Sam and Ethan's affair threatening to blow up the happy-friends-everything's-great illusion, the good times won't last long. 

Is it any good?

The cast of this circle-of-friends show is so charming, and the writing so good, you'll find yourself liking them all despite the occasionally terrible, and often awkward, things they do. Of course, it helps that most of the cast members bring adorable reputations to the show, but they're also given very funny things to say, increasing the adorability quotient. At a meeting where Max attempts to get Ethan to slant his new novel in a YA direction, he pitches a couple of concepts: "Vampires with cancer -- you live forever, you die forever. Or you start backwards, you start with a title: Deathball! No one survives Deathball!" Later, at a tense dinner party with all six of the friends and their spouses in attendance, Ethan muses that "everyone's" dreams that he'd wind up with a Nobel Prize just may not come true. Nick tells him, "I think you're pretty good but..." and Marianne wrinkles up her nose skeptically: "A Nobel Prize?"

That's funny, and so are these people, whether they're poking at each other's sensitive spots, or simply alone, doing the funny things people do when they're alone. Friends from College is a very good ensemble drama-comedy with complicated moral messages, but these friends are interesting people we want to spend time with. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Friends from College compares to other ensemble dramedies built around a group of friends. Does the content seem more or less realistic than others'? Why? 

  • How does the media portray relationships in general? Is it ever appropriate to use stereotypes as a way of portraying them? Why do you think topics such as affairs, divorce, sex, and pregnancy are dealt with so frequently on TV shows and in movies? 

  • Are these friends intended to be admirable or relatable characters? Does that impact how much you enjoy the show? How do you know as a viewer how to feel about each character? What cues does the show give you? 

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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