Hello Friends. “Friends” is the most logical nickname for fans of Best Friends Forever – you know, like Glee’s Gleeks or Modern Family’s Modernists or Parks & Rec’s Park Wreckers – other options are Biffs, Foreverers, or Jammers. Speaking of fans, I’m still a big fan of BFF, for no reason more than its unique comedic voice. The script is written around Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair’s tape-recorded improvisations, which gives the show a more natural feel than most sitcoms, old or new. This does leave the show with less clear-cut punchlines, which definitely takes time to get used to, but more genuinely funny moments.
Speaking of BFF, let’s talk about episode número two. A series’ second episode will likely either continue directly from the pilot or cut out any further exposition and go directly to more purely episodic plots. Last night’s episode was definitely much more the former than the latter, and I must admit, I’m slightly disappointed. I’ve already bought into these characters are, so I want to see them hang out with some low-stakes shenanigans. It’s not unlike having a great first date and wanting to move directly to the wearing sweatpants and watching Netflix stage. However, in both cases that level of comfort has to be earned. For BFF, that means getting the audience on their characters’ sides, especially Jess, who is the broadest lead and the focal point of the show’s fundamental conflict.
Speaking of Jess, the episode starts with Jess in the post-crying, meat cooking stage of her break up. It was alluded to in the pilot but it seems like cooking is Jess’s thing or thang or as Lenn put it, “her hidden talent,” and no one is more happy about it than sweatshirt boyfriend, Joe. He tell Jess, “If you feeling good means sweet meats in my mouth, you can crash in my office as long as you want,” and so it was written. In celebration of meats that are sweet and partly of the show cementing its premise, everyone dances and smiles at each other and sings “It’s Raining Men”. But just when you thought this was going to be a purely silly cold open, it’s revealed that Jess had butt-dialed her ex-husband, Peter, which was not ideal and there is a lot of screaming and phone hot potatoing until Joe “brings the heat” and chucks it against the wall (this was funny!). It will be interesting to see if the show continues its unique formula of having it’s cold open be a fast-paced scene that establishes the episode’s fundamental point of conflict.
What follows is the fallout from that call. Starting with Jess taking a horribly depressing bath, playing Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” as if she was a needy, abused dog. The problem is Joe needs to use the bathroom (men always be poopin’) so Lenn goes in to rectify the situation (or rectumify the situation – oof, sorry/you’re welcome) and help her Stella get her groove back. But with a yoga pants caused ass rash and S. Macs playing, it obviously won’t be easy.
Speaking of Mac-Locks, they cut to a shot that evoked the biggest laugh of 2012 from me to date – a shot of Jess, face pressed against the bar’s juke box, eye closed, with her hips arhythmically swaying to “I Will Remember You” (I will remember you, sight gag). So Joe and Lenn convince Rav to ask Jess to cook a pork dinner at his bar. It’s a very sitcomy premise, as you can see all the beats before they happen – she does it, it’s a big yet stressful success, it goes great but then her ex-husband shows up, there is some yelling and some making up. This doesn’t mean the show is hack or obvious, it’s more that the writers use a familiar backdrop to make their brand of comedy and dialogue more easily digestible.
Speaking of digestible, before she is able to unleash the meats on the masses, Jess turns to Queenetta for some honest feedback. Queenetta has already polarized some viewers, in a way not unlike Kenneth on 30 Rock. She is a big, silly character in a show about grown ups beings flawed grown ups. Smartly, they’ve used her sparingly, which avoids oversaturation while still allowing for her necessary relief. I say necessary because, so far, BFF leaves a lot of room for dramatic moments, and Queenetta reminds the viewer that they’re watching a comedy.
Speaking of dramatic moments, there is one! Half the episode is dedicated to the heavily promoted (by Jess) pork night at Rav’s bar. Tensions are high as tons of people show up including both a fake (Joe’s thoroughly invented Leroy L’Baller) and a real food blogger. Yet, with help of Lenn explaining to the cooks in Spanish how sad and desperate Jess is, everything goes great. Well until Peter shows up and Jess and Lenn have a big ol’ fight about how Lenn is trying to control Jess’s life and how Lenn just wants to protect Jess from her dumb decisions – it’s the type of hyper-honest argument that people who’ve been best friends for years have.
Speaking of dumb decisions, Jess talks to Peter. He seems like a tool and wants her back and condescends to her and her friends. Jess realizes that nothing will change if they get back together and resides herself to her fate without him. Her accepting the divorce was the one thing really missing from the pilot and was wholly necessary for the show to move on and have the freedom to be more episodic.
Speaking of episodic, I’m super excited for episode three. I want to see what the show is going to actually be like now that it has established the universe. What did you think fellow Besties? Did it live up to the pilot? Do the dramatic moments detract from or aid the funny? (Did my “speaking of” bit work?) What is the best BFF fan nickname?