There are certain shows you watch that you know will get cancelled sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, the fear that you're getting attached to a show that will soon disappear sort of taints the experience of watching. For me, that happened with Best Friends Forever, which aired on NBC in 2012. Luckily, creators and stars Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair have a new show on USA called Playing House that's giving me and many other fans a second chance at a respectable television relationship.
The premise of Playing House is textbook traditional sitcom: Emma (St. Clair) leaves her high-powered job to move back in with her pregnant best friend Maggie (Parham) after Maggie discovers her husband has been having an online relationship with a cam girl. It's not much different from Best Friends Forever, but the plot has been shifted ever so slightly. In BFF, St. Clair and Parham played characters with their same names. Jessica also moved in with Lennon, but it was because her husband wanted a divorce. The twist in that show was that Lennon was already living with her boyfriend, creating an odd man out situation.
In Playing House, St. Clair and Parham have a similar dynamic as they did in BFF, one that is loosely based on their relationship in real life. Parham is the more sensible, dependable one, while St. Clair is a more self-involved mess. But at their core, they're two women who love each other very much and compliment each other in many ways.
Playing House deals with jealousy between friends, the struggles of moving home to the town you grew up in, the sadness of failed relationships and the tensions we have with our family members. It isn't fancy or groundbreaking it's just...pleasant. But pleasantly delightful. The comic energy between Parham and St. Clair is so easy, probably because they're real life friends who have been doing comedy together for years. To compare it to other shows: it's Broad City, except set in a small town with characters who smoke less weed. It's got the quirky characters of Ed. It's Lorelai and Sookie's relationship in Gilmore Girls.
There are still things I miss about Best Friends Forever, like Stephen Schneider as Rav, Jessica's ex boyfriend who she had lots of sexual tension with (Coincidentally/fantastically, Schneider plays the hot next door neighbor on Broad City) or the incredible presence of Daija Owens as Queenetta, their neighbor who bossed around adults even though she was just a kid. But Playing House has Keegan-Michael Key as a cop and Emma's high school boyfriend filling the Rav role, the very funny Zach Woods as Maggie's quirky brother and Jane Kaczmarek as Emma's mother.
Most importantly, like BFF, it makes me feel good to watch it. There are so many little jokes, so many subtleties these women do so well it doesn't even look like they're working. (Some of these jokes are cataloged at this tumblr, though I don't know how many of them really make sense outside of the show. I will say that a plot line in a recent episode about Maggie's trucker alter-ego Bosephus killed me.)
Image via USA