The Love Triangle On 'Friends From College' Isn't About Picking Sides
On Friends From College, Keegan-Michael Key's character Ethan is charged with writing a Young Adult novel, but never quite realizes that he's living in one — specifically because he's in the center of a love triangle. But don't start printing "team" shirts just yet. The love triangle on Friends From College is nontraditional and doesn't revolve around one character making a choice. It's a symptom of a larger problem in the friend group the series is about. That said, there are spoilers for Season 1 of Friends From College ahead.
I'll lay it all out first. Lisa, played by Cobie Smulders, is married to Ethan, who used to date and is currently sleeping with Annie Parisse's character Sam — who is married to someone outside of the group. The casual adulterous affair between Ethan and Sam has been going on for decades. Meanwhile, Nat Faxon's character Nick still has feelings for Lisa left over from college. Oh, and Sam also dated a guy who calls himself "Party Dog," who is played by Seth Rogen. Don't worry so much about that right now.
Should Sam and Ethan leave their spouses for one another? Both of them care deeply for Lisa. Sam also has two children, and a good relationship with her husband. I honestly don't know what the answer is, and that's kind of cool. There's no right or wrong side to pick, and nobody is framed as a villain or a victim.
However, the friend group clearly has some issues to work through — as the show tells the audience over and over. They're codependent to say the least, and more interested in indulging their nostalgia than acknowledging that their behavior is not OK. Maryanne and Max have their own issues to work through, and are likely enabling this twisted situation, but they've somehow managed to steer clear of romantic entanglements within the group. (Aside from Max's crush on Ethan.)
Maybe Sam, Ethan, and Lisa don't have to choose to cut out anyone. But as much as I would love to see a healthy polyamorous relationship on television, I don't think that's possible with this group. Ethan and Lisa need to decide whether or not they want to be married to each other anymore, let alone start a family. Sam has to figure out if she can live without this "yearly hook-up," and save her family in the process. Nick has to figure out what he wants from life in general.
It's also kind of cool to see a love triangle with a guy in the middle, after all the Bellas and Katnisses that came before Ethan. Still this conflict on Friends From College can't be resolved by just picking which women is Ethan's endgame. That's just one tiny problem is this increasingly regressive friend group.