If you’ve ever looked at someone’s carefully curated social media pages and envied their seemingly perfect life, then you’ll understand the concept at the heart of CBS’ new sitcom, “Friends With Better Lives.”
Creator Dana Klein tells reporters at the 2014 Television Critics Association winter press tour that her show “examines friendship through that ‘grass is always greener’ lens. We have six people at very different stages of life — married with kids, newly engaged, divorced, single — and while they all love each other and they are happy, secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) they wonder if perhaps their friends have it better.”
The inspiration for the show came from the time her young daughter met one of her friends from college. “When we met, we were at the exact same place in life. We were both single. We were students at Duke, didn’t know what we were going to do with our lives,” she says. When the friend visited, “I was married with my three kids, and my daughter, who was four at the time, said to her, ‘Who do you live with?’ And my friend said she lived with no one. And my daughter just thought it was so sad. She was like,’Who do you have breakfast with?’ And my friend was like, ‘No one.’ And my daughter actually started to cry, and then my friend started to cry, and it was incredibly awkward. And I actually ‑‑ you know, I pitied her in that moment.”
But a month later the friend was dating someone new, “a football player at Duke, and he’s gorgeous, and he’s 6’3″, and they’re going on a romantic getaway. And I’m sitting there covered in baby vomit, haven’t slept, haven’t lost my baby weight, and I didn’t pity her anymore. I envied her. And it got me thinking that’s sort of what friendship is; it’s this constantly moving pendulum between pity and envy with the undercurrent of love.”
“FWBL” is an old-school multi-camera sitcom, which means it’s shot in front of a live audience. “That’s really the big difference and fun thing for me,” says James Van Der Beek, who plays the show’s divorcee. “I feel like the audience kind of keeps you honest. It’s old‑school. It’s an old‑school sitcom. You either get a laugh or you don’t. So it’s a great place for all of us to learn how to kind of do that kind of comedy.”
Kevin Connolly, who plays one of the show’s married parents, isn’t so fond of the audience.”They give me an anxiety attack, personally, a live audience,” he says.
“Friends With Better Lives” also stars Majandra Delfino as Connolly’s better half, Brooklyn Decker as their newly engaged pal, and Zoe Lister Jones as the group’s singleton. The show premieres Monday, March 31 at 9 p.m. ET/PT following the “How I Met Your Mother” series finale before moving to its regular 8:30 p.m time slot.