Harvard Review: Keegan Michael-Key, Fred Savage and More Tackle 'Friends From College'

Ingela Ratledge
Preview Barbara Nitke/Netflix

Keegan-Michael Key and Fred Savage star in Friends From College

Nobody knows you better than your old pals—and that can be a blessing and a curse. Therein lies the premise of Friends From College, Netflix’s new eight-episode dramedy—cocreated by husband-and-wife team Nick Stoller and Francesca Delbanco—about a close-knit sextet of Harvard alums. Nearly 20 years have passed since graduation, and they’re facing down their forties and their dysfunctional group dynamics. “Friendships with a lot of history are extremely comforting, but they can also cause a regression,” Delbanco says. “It’s like you act the age you were when you first met.”

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Case in point: Sam (Annie Parisse) and Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key) have been “casually” fooling around for decades despite the fact that they’re married to other people. The situation gets stickier when Ethan and his wife, Lisa (Cobie Smulders), move to New York City, where the rest of the gang, including Sam and her hubby, already live. (Reunited, and it feels so…awkward!) Naturally, their secret has nuclear potential for the whole crew, including not-so-innocent bystanders Max (Fred Savage), Marianne (Jae Suh Park) and Nick (Nat Faxon). “We like the idea that they could all destroy each other,” Stoller says. “A lot is going to happen between them.”

As for whether art is imitating life? Stoller and Delbanco both attended Harvard and acknowledge that the show’s premise was initially inspired by their own tight social circle. “But we’ve made so many changes by now that none of it resembles our reality,” says Delbanco. “Or else this is a very awkward way for me and Nick to work out an affair!”

Friends From College, Series Premiere, Friday, July 14, Netflix