Friends with Benefits Pilot through Ep 4

I’d like to apologize at the beginning for the brevity of this article; a computer crash killed the first draft. For future reference, always do your writing in Microsoft Word or something else that autosaves instead of in a text editor, and always, always save.

So I was browsing Supernatural Twitter feeds. Turns out Jared Padalecki (@jarpad) told us to watch Danneel Harris Ackles’s show, Friends with Benefits.

Last week.

Oops.

The shallow: Danneel (Ten Inch Hero, One Tree Hill) as Sara, Jessica Lucas (Melrose Place, 90210) as Riley, and Andre Holland (Bride Wars) as Fitz all look damn good shirtless. Ryan Hansen (Friday the 13th, Veronica Mars) as Ben and Zach Cregger (The Whitest Kids U’Know) as Aaron, uh, don’t. Unfortunately we see quite a lot of Ben shirtless. There’s an awkward scene at the start of episode two involving Ben naked with a head of a type of cabbage covering his junk.

The positive: Female bonding! The Sara plot of episode three was entirely about the female bonding. Riley worried Sara doesn’t like her because they don’t hang out often, so Sara, when confronted with this, immediately agreed to the first hanging-out activity Riley proposed, which happened to be a party at which all the food-type items were spiked with “good times”. Sara is Entertaining when high on marijuana. Also, all the female characters are sexually assertive. Every one. This is something that needs to be encouraged. We don’t seem to get both a Bechdel pass and a race-Bechdel pass in the same episode, but we do get Bechdel passes and race-Bechdel passes, which is better than many shows. And we have acknowledgment that lesbians and bi folk of color exist: Fitz was raised by at least one of them. I am disappointed that this series is already canceled.

The negative: For a series marketed (at least as far as I’ve seen) as being all about the Danneel Ackles character, there’s a hell of a lot of focus on the menfolk. I watch Supernatural. I do not need another show that focuses on menfolk. I’m not impressed by Sara’s professionalism, either: for an OB-GYN, she has an awful lot of time to spend on personal calls and texts, and she should never be distracted from delivering a baby by the cute OB-GYN helping her with the delivery. Especially not when said OB-GYN is married. And Riley keeps getting sidelined and in four episodes Fitz has only one storyline of his own; this is bad because Riley and Fitz are two of only three characters of color on the show. There’s also casual heterosexism and cissexism and ableism. Case in point, Ben, trying to figure out why he stopped dating a one-off character: “Does she have a penis?” And the entire Ben plot of episode four relies on another one-off character’s amnesia. So maybe it’s not an entirely bad thing that this series is already canceled.

The shallow and the positive, however, will keep me coming back for more. See you on NBC Friday at eight! IMDB also has the entirety of episodes two through four.

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