Today I watched the last few episodes of Best Friends Forever while doing some chores, and then I discovered that late last week NBC shelved the show indefinitely. The show premiered about a month ago, and NBC has only aired four of the six episodes that were produced.
As Splitsider pointed out, HBO just renewed Girls for a second season, although it had far fewer viewers than Best Friends Forever. On the other hand, if you Google “‘Girls’ HBO” you get more than 20 million hits, but if you search for “‘Best Friends Forever’ NBC” you only get about 2.5 million. I guess April and/or the Internet only had room for one lady friendship comedy, which is too bad.
BFF (I hate that acronym, but I don’t feel like typing out the full title over and over) shares some issues with Girls. Judging by the t-shirts Lennon Parham’s character wears, the show takes place in Brooklyn. So, great, it’s another show about New Yorkers who live in crazy awesome apartments. BFF bests Girls in the sense that there is a recurring black character, but it’s not really a win, given that she’s a super sassy girl named Queenetta. When she appeared in the pilot, I was like, “Oh, crap, this isn’t good.” But the actress, Daija Owens, is funny and adorable, and she holds her own against the adults. Parham and St. Clair play characters who share their real first names (which not even Lena Dunham does) and which are totally based on their actual friendship and working relationship. For the most part, though, that works, and their chemistry together makes even the pilot pretty strong.
Either despite or because of those points, I love the first four episodes of BFF because it takes off from where we were left with Bridesmaids last year. Like that movie, the show examines women juggling female friendships and romantic relationships with men in a pretty nuanced fashion for a network sitcom. In the pilot, Jessica receives divorce papers from her husband via FedEx and flies back to New York to stay with her old roommate, Lennon, who now has a live-in boyfriend, Joe. The women’s friendship feels genuine, the way Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph’s conversation in the coffee shop at the beginning of Bridesmaids felt like the kind of silly and uncensored discussion that close female friends actually have. Joe is a bit of a man-child (he’s quit his job to finish designing a video game), but his character isn’t a doofus who merely blocks the female friendship. His issues with Jessica are valid (e.g., she keeps barging into his and Lennon’s bedroom when they’re trying to do it), and he’s a good partner to Lennon. The show is generally upbeat compared to the pretty dark satire of Girls, but the characters also have frequent conflicts that arise organically as they adjust to a new living situation. And while BFF might not be tackling any totally uncharted territory about the experience of being a woman (I wouldn’t expect abortion or STD storylines from this show), the humor touches on women’s experiences in a way that’s enjoyable and inoffensive-in-a-good-way. I mean, when there is a joke about boobs, it’s not unnecessarily crass and it’s not a joke made by a man. Instead, it’s about the totally mundane danger of not wearing a bra in the privacy of your home, because heaven forbid women have nipples in polite company. I also think this scene is so lovely and hilarious in its portrayal of close female friends and the ways that weird, platonic intimacy can be infringed upon or made ridiculous by an unexpected witness:
On BFF the only “vagina panic” happens when Lennon falls into the bathtub onto Jessica and squishes her. I’m not saying that the scarier, more serious, more depressing aspects of young-womanhood in Girls are bad. I really like Girls, despite its flaws. But I also appreciate the somewhat more mature, more silly and joyful depiction of female relationships in Best Friends Forever, because sometimes life is like that too, and there’s room for that on TV, even if NBC and the Internet commentariat don’t seem to care or agree. Plus, these ladies are really funny. Best Friends Forever hasn’t been canceled yet, so I hope NBC gives them another chance this summer.