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TV Series Review

Let's face it, if you put the word Friends in the title of a new sitcom about a gaggle of urban twentysomethings navigating the seas of buddydom and love, well, it ain't by accident.

Especially if you're on NBC.

Indeed, this With Benefits version is really only a natural extension of what the old Friends was all about. That groundbreaker may have seemed to be focused on friends gathering and humorously jawing at the local coffee shop, but in reality it was all about the hookups. As humor site splitsider.com recently reported, the Friends pals had at least 85 different sexual partners between the six of them over the life of the series.

This newest NBC gang of five has the same goal in mind. It's just determined to get there quicker.

How much quicker? Well, the series pilot opens with leads Ben and Sara pantingly untangling from their latest late-night romp. But is there real intimacy here? A hint of romance? Forget about it. They're just buds. While strategically sliding out from beneath the sheet and into underwear and clothing, the pair casually chat about Sara's recent date and other punch line-driven trivia. Then they go their merry way. It's as if they had just helped each other move a mattress instead of rolling off of one. And that's this particular Friends' biggest conceit—and most absurd flaw.

Forget the fact that the friends in question—commitment-hungry Sara, commitment-shy Ben, geeky nanotech millionaire Aaron, sexy sleep-around bartender Riley and cool but oblivious Fitz—are all too pretty and stereotypical to ever be a group of real friends. Forget the fact that the show communicates that committed relationships are nearly impossible to manage while rolls in the hay with strangers are as easy as a wink and a smile. Forget the ridiculous supposition that Sara and Ben are the only ones who can't see that they're perfect for each other. And you can even forget that four of the five lead characters end up casually sexing each other by the end of the very first show.

Because even if you put all of that eye-rolling incongruity aside, Friends With Benefits' biggest problem is what it presents in that opening scene: the idea that sex can actually be so nonchalant that it has no real impact on its participants.

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FriendsWithBenefits: 8122011



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Danneel Ackles as Sara Maxwell; Ryan Hansen as Ben Lewis; Andre Holland as Julian 'Fitz' Fitzgerald; Zach Cregger as Aaron Greenway; Jessica Lucas as Riley Elliott






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