There are two reasons why I’m looking forward to March 31st: it’s my 21st birthday, and it’s the series premiere of CBS’s new sitcom, “Friends With Better Lives.” With “How I Met Your Mother” coming to a close and Pottruck’s limited supply of “Friends” episodes quickly diminishing, I need a new group of dysfunctional friends to be jealous of. Former “Friends” producer Dana Klein seems to have the answer with “FWBL,” starring James Van Der Beek, Brooklyn Decker and the hilarious Zoe Lister–Jones.

Fresh off an embarrassing stint playing himself in ABC’s failed sitcom, “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23,” Van Der Beek plays Will, a newly divorced gynecologist who spends much of the pilot trying to win back his ex–wife. He moves in with his two married friends, Andi (Majandra Delfino) and Bobby (Kevin Connolly of “Entourage”), who are worried that they have become another safe, boring couple. Then there’s Jules (Decker), who has returned from a trip to Australia with a spiritual, vegan, guitar–playing fiance named Lowell (Rick Donald). Rounding out the group is the straitlaced Kate, the COO of a thriving social media company who longs to find love but only finds misfortune on first dates.

Van Der Beek has matured from his days as the doe–eyed Dawson, evident in his funny and touching portrayal as the group’s leader—he is Ted Mosby, Sheldon Cooper and Ross Geller all in one. Additionally, while Decker proves her worth as an actress with great comedic timing, it’ll take a few more episodes to show that she’s still not just a pretty face. Above all, it’s Lister–Jones who steals the spotlight with her deadpan comedy and witty sarcasm.

CBS has found a potential hit to replace its darling “HIMYM,” both in its primetime schedule and in the hearts of its viewers. Let’s just hope the audience isn’t too heartbroken over Ted and the gang’s farewells to watch this new up–and–comer.

Grade: A-

See if you like: Developing deep (re:inappropriate) relationships with fictional characters.

Premieres on CBS, Monday, March 31 at 9 p.m.


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