Netflix’s newly debuted dramedy, “Friends from College” would be more aptly called “With Friends Like These.” Not since "Seinfeld" has there been a band of narcissistic buddies more comically despicable. (Note: Spoilers ahead)
Throughout the eight half-hour episodes, there is more figurative backstabbing and literal glass breaking (I counted four shattered windows and walls in total—clearly a record for a short series) than should be warranted in a good TV-watching binge.
The truth is that some of the most realistic aspects of the show are related to its real estate.
The premise of the show is dark: Six friends (Marianne, Samantha, Nick, Lisa, Ethan and Max) from Harvard are reunited in New York City after 20 years. Most notably–the crux of the show—is that two have been having an affair for the last 20 years, unbeknownst to their spouses.
When Lisa (Colbie Smulders), a former ACLU attorney and Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key), a flailing author, decide to pack up a U-Haul and move to NYC from the Midwest, things get complicated. Turns out that Ethan and Samantha (Annie Parisse) have been secretly hooking up since college, having clandestine meetings in anonymous hotel rooms around the country.
However, now that they will be living in the same city, they vow to end the affair. Spoiler: They can’t stop, won’t stop.
If you like real estate porn more than actual porn (the sex scenes are more awkward than sexy), “Friends from College” has got you covered.
Real estate reality score on a scale of one to five: 3.5 While this isn't exactly realistic for most New York City-dwellers, for these particular, fictional New Yorkers the real estate makes sense... for the most part. Read on for the specifics.
The semi-realistic real estate
It is never explained how Marianne, a struggling playwright and actress, affords to live in such a huge brownstone apartment, complete with roof deck overlooking the Empire State Building. Her mail is addressed to the fictional 87 Delancey St., though it's clear she lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights or a similar location in brownstone Brooklyn.
“I play Marianne, and she’s kind of the bohemian of the group. She doesn’t believe in marriage, she doesn’t believe in monogamy, lives in the same apartment she did when she was in college. She’s an artist, an actress,” explains Park.
It is never explained how she afforded to live there for all those years. She may very well have rich parents like her fellow friend from college, Nick (Nat Faxon) who doesn’t have to work because he has a trust fund. Or maybe she was just lucky enough to get into an "up and coming" neighborhood before it came up.
Then there's Max (Ethan’s college friend-slash-book agent played by Fred Savage), who has an apartment that is seriously tony. It's hard to imagine that a book agent—even a successful one—could afford an apartment as luxe as Max's, but perhaps Max's boyfriend, Felix (played by Billy Eichner) had something to do with it. Felix is a fertility doctor, which we know is a lucrative business, based on the fact that Ethan and Lisa are shocked by the prices their IVF treatments (given to them by Felix himself) will cost. It's not entirely clear whether or not Felix actually lives with Max, bought the place with him, or has his name on a lease... but that would help to explain just how fancy the place is.
There's a dining room with seating for 12 and an elevator that opens directly into the unit, which has recessed lighting and a gas fireplace. An apartment like that, near Central Park, would run no less than $3 million... and that's being conservative.
(One late-night, drug-fueled get-together has Max, Ethan and Nick tossing pizza onto the walls of said tony apartment and writing on Max’s glass walls in permanent marker, ala "A Beautiful Mind." We can't say we blame Felix for freaking out about that in an apartment so perfect.)
The really realistic real estate
Samantha, an interior decorator, and her Wall Street financier husband John, are the quintessential New York one percenters. They own a town home on the Upper East Side within walking distance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as a modern mansion in tony Connecticut. Their palatial estate is so noteworthy an entire episode—Connecticut House—is named after it. In that episode, we see that the mostly glass home has a pool, huge wine cellar, multiple fireplaces and room to comfortably entertain 100 or so of Samantha's closest frenemies. Sitting on several acres of landscaped lawn the multi-million dollar home also features a multi-car garage, which houses their new Mercedes truck.
This is serious "bougie" dreaming.
The commercial spaces ring true as well. Sam’s office is in a Midtown high rise. Lisa’s new attorney position housed in a Wall Street hedge fund also looks the part, complete with fancy conference room, view of lower Manhattan and foul-mouthed bro-like partners.
Samantha’s therapist’s office is the typical Upper West Side den anyone in treatment has come to recognize.
The truly less-than-realistic
Probably the most unrealistic thing about the show is that throughout the duration of the series–the time it took Ethan to conceptualize and write an entire book—he and his wife Lisa only went apartment hunting once, even though they are actively trying to have a child and have to be fed up with living on a friend's pull-out couch at nearly 40. There is only one scene depicting the stress New York newbies on a budget experience when apartment hunting. In one of the episodes, they wait to meet with a realtor in a commercial area of Midtown. While we never see the unit, everyone comments that “Midtown is a weird place to live.” By episode’s end they are still content to remain on Marianne’s couch but—spoiler alert!—are soon to be booted.
I suspect there won’t be a second season, but if there is I can only hope we get a bigger view into their apartment search because there is nothing darker than that.
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