SAM AND ETHAN
One of the biggest hurdles Friends From College set out to jump was to see if Sam and Ethan could actually give their relationship a try in the face of the destruction their affair wrought. It was always going to be a hard sell considering how difficult it was to have sympathy for either of them even after they’d faced up to their misdeeds. But Friends From College gives them time to suffer some significant consequences and various humiliations, as well as moments of genuine self-reflection before permitting either character to consider an actual relationship with the other.
Watching them attempt a legitimate relationship is at times awkward and unpalatable – when they start calling each other “babe” during their first couple get togethers, everyone reacts with hilarious revulsion. But Friends From College makes their decision to try motivated by the real feelings between them as opposed to a mutual failure to break away from a toxic pattern. They become a much more sympathetic couple once the audience finally gets a glimpse of how genuinely happy these two could make each other (for however long it would last). They’re still deeply flawed characters, but that doesn’t make them wrong for each other, and when they don’t end up together, it’s sad.
MAX AND FELIX
After a rocky season that saw Felix get a firsthand look at how vulnerable Max is to his college friends, the couple has clearly benefited from a year off from the “friend group.” They open Friends From College season 2 literally in sync with each other (mostly) as they practice a dance number for their wedding and discuss how Max’s friends won't do anything to ruin their upcoming engagement party. (If only he’d seen the bigger picture.) The engagement party isn’t the disaster that it promises to be, but the flip side of that coin is that it sparks the idea that these people can be friends with each other without it somehow manifesting in chaos. Everyone’s too emotionally intertwined to maintain proper boundaries, but that also makes it impossible for them to stay away from each other.
To wit, Ethan and Max are still working on his young adult fantasy series about centaurs, and their dynamic is the same: Max craves Ethan’s approval, and Ethan takes advantage of that devotion to ensure endless emotional support, pass Max’s literary ideas off as his own and secure six months free storage for his and Lisa’s belongings. As the wedding draws near, Felix decides he’s the only puppet master allowed in Max’s life, so he meets with Ethan and demands the writer enter into a partnership with Max that gives the agent writing credit. Ethan winds up embracing the idea because his heart hasn’t been in Boy Horse since the beginning. In his glee at the opportunity to pursue an artist passion, Max quits his job only to discover he hasn’t the first clue what he’s doing.
Things only get worse after Ethan leaves the project entirely and Max is left with no job and a franchise he has no idea how to complete. When Felix proudly reveals he’s the one who pushed Ethan into that direction, Max is furious – not that Felix manipulate him, but that he did it in the wrong direction. It’s not a fatal blow to their relationship, but it does make it very clear that despite Max being the only member of his friend group to have a stable relationship, he’s just as dysfunctional and immature as his peers.
NICK AND LISA
As a couple, Nick and Lisa seemed a bit perfunctory in Friends From College season 1, and their romance far less rooted than Max and Felix’s or even Sam and Ethan's. But after Lisa escapes from the tornado that is Ethan and Charlie, and finally moves on, Nick is a supportive enough friend without pushing her for anything else, that the two discover they have a real connection. They decide to give it a go themselves. And, like Sam and Ethan, it looks good on paper. Lisa seems to have genuinely moved on from her catastrophic divorce and Nick’s been waiting for his shot too long not to jump at the chance to be with her.
Unfortunately, she learns she’s pregnant almost immediately after, and eventually their fledgling relationship falls apart before it can even get off the ground. There might have been hope for them had Nick had the forbearance he exhibited all season and left her some room to deal with the news. Instead, he berates her and bemoans the fact that he could still be with Merrill, if Lisa hadn’t come back into his life. It’s not a good moment for the character, but everyone has their breaking point, even someone like Nick.