"Best Friends Forever" (8:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, NBC) isn't a perfect comedy, but the first episode of the show reminds me a lot of ABC's "Happy Endings," which is probably a good thing.
As was the case with the ABC comedy when it began, the pilot for "BFF" is a little bit frantic and occasionally strays into screechy territory. But as "Happy Endings" began the process of dialing things down and tailoring its material to its very talented cast, it quickly became a lot of fun. Though "BFF" has a smaller cast than "Happy Endings," it lays the foundation for what could be a zippy and enjoyable exploration of the intricacies of intimacy and friendship.
Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair star as Lennon and Jessica, best friends who grow even closer when Jessica's husband dumps her via FedEx. Jessica scurries across the country to Lennon's apartment, where they resume where they left off as incredibly close roommates. This development flummoxes Lennon's live-in boyfriend, Joe (Luka Jones), to say the least.
Like Lennon and Jessica's friendship, "BFF" can be a little exhausting and manic at times; the sitcom indulges in the kind of speed-talking banter that makes "Parks and Recreation" look like a sleepy PBS documentary by comparison. But the show takes the time to give a few realistic dimensions to the characters' emotional lives, and each actor in the core trio has sharp comic timing. Who knows if "BFF" will develop into another "Happy Endings," but there's certainly potential with the trusty (if familiar) premise it sets up in the pilot.
Speaking of NBC, what gives? I mean, I know we've been saying "What gives?" about NBC for a decade or so, but this week, I just don't understand why the Peacock network is treating reasonably decent new comedies like so many scheduling pinatas. "BFF" and especially the charming "Bent," which premiered two weeks ago, could be the foundation of a nice comedy block for the network, but NBC went and threw "Bent" on the schedule where it was bound to fail. Why? As I said in my "Bent" review, it's a really good show.
Josef Adalian of Vulture gives the full context of the spring "Bent" burn-off here, and though I appreciate the explanation, I still have to say: NBC, what gives? "BFF" and certainly "Bent" are likely to be better than most of the comedy pilots you're going to pick up this spring. And I can't see how you're going to engender much audience loyalty by treating both of these new shows so haphazardly.
In any event, comedy fans with some free time should try to check out the final two episodes of "Bent" Wednesday night, and while you're at it, give "BFF" a whirl. You may utter mirthless giggles when you ponder the shreds of insanity that still linger at NBC, but you'll also probably laugh -- in a good way -- at what you see on the screen. When it comes to "Bent" and "BFF," enjoy the latter feeling while you can.
Check out my colleague Maggie Furlong's interview with the stars of the show here.