I have a love-hate relationship with NBC. Most of the shows I love and have loved are on the peacock. I grew up on the Cosby Show, SNL, Conan, Seinfeld, Friends, Scrubs, Law and Order….the list goes on and on, but the way they deal with their programs confuses me. Today the shows I am most passionate about call this network home- Community, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and now a little show called Best Friends Forever. It’s kind of odd- BFF only aired for four episodes before getting pulled from NBC’s schedule. Those four episodes spawned a rabid fan base. If you haven’t seen an episode of BFF, it follows Jessica trying to restart her life as a divorced thirtysomething woman with the help of her best friend. After being left by her husband, Jessica (Jessica St.Clair) moves back to New York City and moves in with her best friend, Lennon (Lennon Parham) and her boyfriend Joe (Luka Jones). The show has a simple plot but the greatness is in the execution. The funniest parts of this show aren’t the big, obvious jokes but everything surrounding them. Yes, we kind of know something bad is going to happen in regards to those cinnamon rolls Jessica is cooking, but everything leading up to this moment is so hilarious. It truly is hard to do this show justice in writing alone. The chemistry between Lennon and Jessica is so truthful and real, they just suck you into their relationship. You immediately know these two women would do anything for each other and that relationship is the key ingredient of this show. BFF also showcases the relationship between Lennon and Joe (Luka Jones). They really care about each other and I can’t see any sort of “Joe/Lennon is falling for this other ….” storyline in the future. They are a more toned down version of Lilly and Marshall on How I Met Your Mother- obviously in love with each other and truly happy to be together. Plus, Luka is a nice balance to the craziness Lennon and Jess get into, but he will also partake in the insanity (see: episode 4: Single and Lovin’ It). The four episodes that have aired were refreshing in that they managed to embrace classic sitcom tropes and use them in a fresh way. I love how this show allows what you expect to happen, but then not mull over them for the entire show. In episode 2, there were two plots going on that a lesser show would stretch out for an episode a piece. 1) Jessica accidentally contacts her ex-husband who then shows up at her door and 2) Jessica is tricked into thinking she is helping Rav by cooking down at his bar. Instead both instances are used as a springboard to experience the characters’ relationships with one another. The humor is found in these relationships and the dialogue these characters share. In the second episode it was refreshing that the whole episode wasn’t about the characters getting into an argument over the fire and not talking to each other (or something like that- “hey, Joe, can you tell Jessica to pass me the salt…”). Instead they go their separate ways for the evening, Jess helps Lennon, and they are still friends. Nothing is dragged on too long. The tone of this show is in line with some of NBC’s other offerings, specifically Up All Night, another low rated show (I believe even lower numbers than BFFtowards the end of its season finale) that had heart and humor along with a great cast. It is seemingly the perfect partner for a block of comedy.
I understand that NBC is a corporation, and yes they are trying to make money but I really don’t understand their process involving some of their shows. Last fall they premiered a total of only six new shows and the only one that is still left is Grimm- already renewed for a second season (Up All Night and Whitney both made it through a complete season but have yet to be renewed). After axing Free Agents (after 3 episodes- surprise!) and The Playboy Club, their fall was pretty much done. They hyped up their premiere of The Firm (everybody was asking for this adaptation, right?) and promptly took it off the schedule after a couple of airings, dumping it on Saturday night. Awake, Bent, Off Their Rockers, BFF, Smash, and The Voice were saved for mid-to-late season premieres. While you couldn’t go 2 seconds without seeing a promo for The Voice or Smash, they did very little to promote their two new comedies. Bent premiered first, with NBC basically burning off their episodes in back to back blocks on Wednesday night on 9 PM. Then came Off Their Rockers and BFF. I saw tons of promo for OTR, such as ads in other NBC shows and Betty White herself being interviewed mid-show on The Voice! Yes NBC had her promote her show on its only true hit. I will not forget when I saw the next episode of The Voice with Lennon and Jessica in the crowd. I was excited- this should be good promotion. But nope, no interview and not even a mention of who these two women were that NBC had just kept the camera on. A non-BFF viewer likely thought “Hey, I wonder whose family they are part of.” I cannot stress how little sense NBC’s business model makes to me. They put money into these shows and do very little to promote them. By the time some shows air, one would think they want their new shows to fail. Don’t get me wrong I love them for sticking by 30 Rock, Parks, Community, and Scrubs for so long but it’s also just awful as a fan when a network pulls the trigger so fast on cancelling a show. I have read blogs and articles regarding #SaveBFF and they mention greats like Seinfeld and Cheers getting off to sluggish season one starts before becoming the classics they are today. NBC had faith in those shows despite less than stellar numbers. One doesn’t even have to go back that far to find another example. When NBC premiered The Office there was a flood of promotion, but the first season averaged around 5-6 million viewers, not exactly a huge number. However, given time to prosper, that show became a megahit (in NBC terms) and even in its eighth season is NBC’s highest rated comedy (despite falling back into season one ratings range). I would also like to compare BFF to another network’s recent midseason comedy. ABC promoted the hell out of its Don’t Trust the B in Apt.23, with magazine spreads, pilot previews, and television spots. Plus they gave it a plum spot behind Modern Family in an attempt to try to boost its ratings. It opened solid, but has fallen since then. Despite this, most news outlets believe ABC will give Don’t Trust another season. I would like to think this is because they have faith in this show and believe it will be the hit they want it to be. If not, at least its fans will get a second season. BFF fans aren’t that lucky. True, NBC doesn’t have some mega hit to launch their comedies behind, but they could at least attempt to schedule them better. Wednesday nights on NBC: Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, BFF, Rock Center, and Law and Order:SVU. Something doesn’t really fit here, and that’s a hilarious, sweet sitcom that is sandwiched between “punk’d for seniors” and a newsmagazine. To play exec here, why not launch your two midseason sitcoms together? Bent received good critical reception and tonally it could match with BFF, so why not do a Bent/BFF block from 8-9. Better yet, if they really wanted to keep OTR on that night, schedule it as: OTR, Bent, BFF, and then keep Up All Night on Wednesdays instead of doing the Thursday switch. That lineup would make some sort of sense.
I wrote this extremely long blog just because I wanted to get some thought out AND support Best Friends Forever. If you have read this, thank you so much. I can only hope it does some sort of good and if not, well at least it’s out there. I am no stranger to shows on the bubble. I have spent the better part of the last TV season supporting Community (I seriously love that show) but I have never been compelled to write something until now. Community has such a passionate fan base online and in the media, I know there are others out there doing it better than I probably can. But now I want to put my actual voice behind BFF. Regardless of its fate, I find it rather remarkable that there is such an outcry of fan support over this show. Honestly, I believe if the mega hits like Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men were cancelled the fans would not react in the same manner. Thank you for reading this, please PLEASE sign the petition to #SaveBFF.
Also, NBC is airing the final 2 episodes of Best Friends Forever on Friday, June 1 at 8 pm. Watch them, please. If you’ve missed an episode, watch them ondemand or better yet buy them from iTunes or Amazon.
Dear TBS, I see you are looking into saving Cougar Town. Might I suggest saving BFF as well? These two shows would pair pretty well together, and they would give me something to watch on your network other than Conan and baseball playoffs.