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Netflix’s ‘Friends From College’ Generates Big Laughs From Yuppie Flings Gone Awry

Streaming recommendations for the weekend, plus a roundup of the week’s food-related entertainment news

Barbara Nitke/Netflix

This post originally appeared on January 25, 2019, in “Eat, Drink, Watch” — the weekly newsletter for people who want to order takeout and watch TV. Browse the archives and subscribe now.

Welcome back to Friday afternoon. As you read this, I hope you are planning a Fred Flintstone-style dinosaur slide into the weekend. Here are some ideas for what to watch between now and Monday, including an overlooked Netflix series, a ribald comedy, and a supremely chill cooking show:

’Friends From College’ is pure entertainment

Barbara Nitke/Netflix

Part of the fun of watching the Netflix comedy Friends from College is that you don’t have to identify with the characters or even like them to enjoy their antics. The show is a gonzo yuppie farce where much of the action plays out inside the trendy bistros and bars of present-day Manhattan, with detours to the Hamptons and Atlantic City. It’s okay to laugh at these people, instead of with them.

Like Friends or Sex and the City, the series chronicles the romantic foibles of a bunch of attractive Manhattan professionals with enviable jobs and closets full of well-tailored clothes. But the show eschews the heartfelt and/or straight-up sappy moments that are scattered throughout those other two programs, and instead leans into the inherent awkwardness of flings and their aftermath.

At the start of Season 2, Ethan (played by Keegan-Michael Key) is picking up the pieces after his wife Lisa (Cobie Smulders) and all their friends found out about a years-long affair with mutual acquaintance Sam (Annie Parisse). Meanwhile, Ethan’s literary agent Max (Fred Savage) is trying to negotiate a new book deal for them during the lead-up to his marriage to Felix (Billy Eichner). The new season features an engagement celebration, a bachelor party, and a big wedding — all boozy occasions for the friends from college to air out their romantic grievances and start new, messy relationships.

The production team wisely chose to include restaurants that are actually patronized by middle-aged yuppies in real life: A meeting between Ethan and Felix takes place at Williamsburg hotspot Lilia; Max mentions that his groom-to-be is having a bachelor party at Eleven Madison Park; the engagement soiree is held at an outdoor venue that looks an awful lot like Blue Hill at Stone Barns; and the wedding itself takes place at ritzy Upper West Side restaurant Lincoln.

Many of the best scenes in the show belong to Savage and Key, playing two extremely energetic schemers who love riffing off each other. And the scenes where all the friends are all hanging out together — of which there are many — also have a great comedic energy. In these sequences, you get the sense that although these people might be bad husbands, wives, and parents, they’re still great friends, and that counts for something.

Friends From College got dragged by the critics on its first go-round, for reasons that I still don’t understand. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the most entertaining comedies in the Netflix library. Both seasons of this half-hour romp are now available to stream.

Streaming recommendations du jour

Carlo Mirarchi and David Kinch
Mind of a Chef/Netflix

Mind of a Chef Season 4, “Balance”

Watch it on: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes

The gist: If you’re starting to feel like a cog in the wheel of work on this, the fourth chilly week of the new year, I recommend checking out this very mellow episode of PBS’s culinary anthology series, featuring Manresa chef David Kinch exploring the importance of letting your work mind take a break. Kinch hops in a vintage Volkswagen Vanagon with his pal Carlo Mirarchi, of Roberta’s and Blanca in Brooklyn, for a road trip along the coast of Central California. They team up with Bay Area O.G. Evan Shivley to make pizzas in his outdoor kitchen, and then head to the beach to prepare steaks on dual Weber grills at twilight.

At the end of the episode, Kinch muses on the value of delegating as a chef, and leaving the restaurant for your own mental health. “To make that happen, you have to accept, ‘I’m going to step away,’” Kinch says. “And you know what you’re going to find out? Sometimes it runs even better — because that’s the part about balance, that’s how it happens.”

Comedy Central/Broad City

Broad City, “Mushrooms”

Watch it on: Hulu, Comedy Central, YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes

The gist: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s hilarious show is back for its fifth and final season this week on Comedy Central. If you want to get reacquainted with the delightfully offbeat vibe of the show, check out this standout from last season, wherein our heroes Abbi and Ilana make a yogurt-and-magic mushroom parfait and go on a hunt for 100 macarons for a boss’s party. Approximately one third of this episode is drawn in the technicolor animation style of the opening credits. This episode also includes a scene involving a bizarre tryst with two party guests, so you probably don’t want to watch this one at work or with any young children present.

In other entertainment news…

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