First Look: “Friends With Benefits”: The TV Show (2011)

Lately there has been a couple of films released surrounding the concept of “friends with benefits”; the notion of having sexual relations with a close friend without having to contend with the hardships of a relationship. So far we have had “No Strings Attached” (2011) starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher and yet to be released “Friends with Benefits” (2011) coincidently starring Natalie Portman’s “Black Swan” (2010) co-star Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake; Along with those US channel NBC has just aired a new comedy series with the same title as the Kunis/Timberlake film. These films and the Television series seem to be purely making a comment on modern day, 21st Century romance depicting how so much has evolved; people are now living longer, are more career-focused and are perhaps in no rush to settle down as much as it was a necessity to around 60 years ago; men and women also share more equality than ever or is it simply much more difficult to find a decent partner these days? Is casual sex an easy answer to fulfil intimate needs without getting hurt? I have just viewed the pilot episode of this new Television show which is evidently going to be discussed in this review and overall I found it very entertaining if not a little surreal in places. It is directed by David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers” (2005) ); Spoilers Included.

The show centres on five friends; arguably in their late-twenties to early-thirties living in Chicago all ultimately searching for one thing; finding an ideal partner however in the meantime settling for whatever they can get. Judging from the pilot the main protagonists are evidently Ben (Played by Ryan Hansen) and Sarah (Played by Danneel Ackles); already I like these characters, they have great chemistry and seem perfect for each other however the conflicts of modern day pressures seem to be preventing them from saying “yes, why don’t we get together”. Ben’s character is overly choosy and seems focused on the flaws of all the women he dates and using this trait as a scapegoat to not progress any further with the relationships. Sarah’s character on the other hand is searching for someone to settle down with, despite seeming very career-driven with having a respectable job as a doctor, her focus is on wanting to get married and having children; demonstrating how modern day attitudes conflict with the traditional values of how we should live our lives. Aaron (played by Zach Cregger) is a much more impulsive character; he appears to rush into relationships too quickly and scares off the girl by being too overpowering; I have to admit the horse gift had to be one of the funniest moments in the episode for me. His character later hooks up with the other female member of their friendship group Riley (Played by Jessica Lucas) and doesn’t seem to have a clear understanding of the concept “friends with benefits” believing he is about to embark on another realtionship; look’s like these character’s lives are about to get a whole lot more complicated. We haven’t discovered an awful lot about the final member of their group Fitz (Played by Andre Holland); he appears to be the character that the other members go to for advice; he seems very sceptical regarding his friend’s tangled love lives again questioning different values and ideas people have. What I have enjoyed so far about “Friends with Benefits” is that it challenges traditional ideologies (yes-I am aware its not the first show or film to do this) about the concept of love and what people look for in a relationship; its funny and entertaining and the characters so far are likeable. Its nice to see a show focused on adult relationships rather than the teen market a lot of shows seem to appeal to as of late. I think it has the potential to become a modern day “Friends” (1994-2004) with its comedic nature; city-setting and the fact all the characters meet up in one particular place to discuss what’s happening in their lives; I am going to stick with this show as I’m interested to see how it unfolds, plus its nice and light-hearted to watch.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

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3 Responses to “First Look: “Friends With Benefits”: The TV Show (2011)”

  1. What I can say for Buddies with Rewards simple fact it is a adorable movie that doesn’t reach it’s complete possible. The major challenge to me is the fact when it starts, the film is getting played as satire and when it ends, it’s becoming played straight. Consequently, Buddies with Advantages does not very rise previously mentioned the romantic materials it mocks, but on occasion it’s humorous and adorable.

  2. I wonder why there are 2 new films and a new t.v. series about friendship-with-benefits. I liked your essay but have to disagree on two specific points:

    “the conflicts of modern day pressures seem to be preventing them from saying “yes, why don’t we get together”. ”

    It seems to me like it’s less the conflicts of modern-day pressures than it is the incompatibility of the characters’ expectations about relationships that are (rightfully) keeping them from agreeing to get together!

    ““Friends with Benefits”… challenges traditional ideologies”

    I don’t know – Ben and Sarah sound like really stereotypical male and female characters when it comes to traditional portrayals of relationships. The commitment-phobic-man and the desperate-to-settle-down-woman figures are so widespread in popular culture; there are so many movies and books about it!

    The typical story is that they end up falling in love: the woman “tames” the man, the man “grows up” and they end up following society’s conventions by committing themselves to a monogamous romantic relationship with each other… happily ever after.

    A television portrayal I can think of off the top of my head where this traditional ending’s validity is questioned (and thus “fairy-tale” ideology behind it) is in Alan Bell’s “Six Feet Under”.

  3. Thank you for the comments; Through what you have said in your comment Jennifer I realise I did overlook some aspects in the analysis; maybe Sarah and Ben are more stereotypical than I first thought, I think what I was trying to drive at was the fact that these two can’t see what’s right in front of them, choosing this casual relationship while in search for their ideal match however in a traditional sense they would be settled down together I think that’s what I meant regarding challenging ideologies that it is taking on a more modern spin.

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