Netflix’s ‘Friends From College’ Explores The Type Of Nostalgia We Never Really Talk About
The Debrief: Could that unspoken longing to relive our university experience be a bad thing?
For a generation so obsessed by nostalgia, we’re pretty reluctant to acknowledge the effects of it. Sure, re-discovering Destiny’s Child’s Writings on the Wall album is one thing. And we can just about get our heads around the reappearance of Juicy Couture tracksuits. But what happens when we attach that desperate longing for what used to be to real actual people?
While I’m sure it’s not the socially appropriate thing to say, no two friendship groups are created equal. Sure, home friends are great and work friends are useful, but so much is defined by that special group of people we find at university. If you’ll forgive the glorified cliché, these are the people we spend our most voluntarily formative years with.
Shit goes down at uni. That almost grown up, will-probably-have-some-sort-of-knock-on-effect-on-the-rest-of-your-life kind of shit. And this particular type of shit happens in the company of a particular group of people who quickly become the ones we feel know us best. The ones who grew with us, cried with us and became the substitute family we didn’t realise would later be the physical manifestations of one of the best periods of our lives. It’s all very emotional, I know. Which is why this is where the biggest burden of our nostalgic cravings tends to fall.
Call me a sceptic, but it seems any sort of reunion with university mates never really takes place in the present. Sure, you’ll be really happy to see each other. You’ll hug, laugh, ask about the new haircut and catch up on new relationships, a huge chunk of conversation is initiated by six crucial words: ‘Do you remember the time when…’. It’s a trap that we’re all too willing to fall into.
The new Netflix show, Friends From College, is all about that trap. The eight-episode series follows a group of friends (from college, yes) who went to Harvard together. Twenty years later they find themselves all living in the same city, trying to balance living life as legitimate functioning adults and being nostalgic for the glory days.
The difficulty comes when the excitement of having the whole crew back together just like old days fades and you're left with people who have grown separately (as opposed to apart) and are probably pretty different to the way they were when you were all dragging each other to 9 am lectures, trying to scrape money together for 'one more' night out and happily coexisting in each other's pockets.
As for the things that continue into post-uni life? Well, beyond the determination to drink as much and as well as you did back in the day and subconscious pressure to be just as 'successful' as the others, which are both a palatable given, the only real example we're given of this is Sam and Ethan's affair. Sam has married outside of the group, Ethan is married to Lisa who is part of the group, and their venture further and further into adultery becomes the crux of the show, which is really quite depressing.
University represents a freedom that only exists for a really intense, concentrated period of time. And by extension, so do the friends we make there. And while the memories are great and the friendships, if you're lucky, stay as strong as they were when you graduated, perhaps what Friends From College manages to do - save for it's rather shitty reviews - is comment on the extreme side of nostalgia we never really think about. Embracing the resurgence of 90s fashion is easy. As is making a throwback Thursday playlist. But when it comes to bringing the relationships we had in the past into the present, we risk jeopardising the chance to create something that we'll miss just as fondly in another twenty years time.
What The Internet Wants To Know...
Questions about Netflix's Friends From College? We've got the answers.
Where do I recognise Fred Savage from?
Experiencing a deja-vu of sorts but can't quite work out why? It's because Fred (who plays Max in FFC) used to play Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years. It's like a nostalgic double whammy to the face, ain't it.
Who else is in the Friends From College cast?
So, we've got Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother fame playing Lisa Turner, aka Freshie. Then there's Keegan-Michael Key from that really funny 'Key and Peele' series who plays Lisa's cheating husband. Annie Parisse plays Sam but you'll probably recognise her from Law and Order and The Mindy Project fans will recognise Marianne (real name Jae W. Suh) from a couple of episodes a few years ago. Then that just leaves Nat Faxon who's voiced a few characters in Family Guy and was in Romy and Michele: In the Beginning.
When does Lisa find out about the affair?
*SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER*
She doesn't. And it's all very awkward because she almost finds out about husband Ethan's 20-year affair with best friend Sam in episode six and then sleeps with Nick in retaliation of what she *thinks* she knows in episode seven but then in the final episode feels so guilty about what she's done that she blurts out what happened in front of everyone. So stressful.
Well the soundtrack was fantastic
Yes, yes it was. You know why? Because a whole lot of it came straight outta the 90s. Some more of that nostalgia for you, I guess. Highlights include The Notorious B.I.G - Hypnotize and Hanson - MMMBop. The full playlist is on Spotify for your listening pleasure.
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At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating