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'Friends With Better Lives' recap: 6 important life lessons from 'The Bicycle Thieves'

Season 1 | Episode 5 | “The Bicycle Thieves” | Aired May 5, 2014

This week’s Friends With Better Lives is a Camus-inspired deep dive into the depths and despair of the human condition, and what would happen if we violated the social contract and entered into Hobbes’ Leviathan. Apologies to the one person whose hopes I managed to lift right there; I’m joking, of course. Still, for all my mocking of the friends and their life-envy week after week, I will confess that this episode was a real turning point — I actually learned a few things. What sorts of things, you ask? Why, just take a gander at these Aesopean morals and lessons … although while we’re on the subject of ganders, let’s just state the obvious #FWBL fact that what’s good for the goose is nowhere close to good enough for the gander. What is this, the Seneca Falls Convention?

1. When it comes to vaginas, feel free to shame your friends about theirs, call other women’s gross, and make broad, sweeping statements like, “Gorgeous women can have gross ones, and gross women can have gorgeous ones.” Females don’t have enough body-image issues; it’s nice of FWBL to do its part in helping us feel even worse about every possible area of our bodies. Especially ones that can’t be changed without painful hot waxing, lasers or drastic cosmetic surgery.

2. Go ahead, make fun of pregnant women. Comment on what they eat, clap when they finish something, joke that they’re eating for “two … hundred” when they say they’re eating for two. They’re not creating new life or anything. In their own words: “I ate three burritos, I got the meat sweats … I’m disgusting,” Andi says. It’s about time we stopped respecting pregnant women altogether as a society, really.

3. Attractive people don’t get preferential treatment in life. Oh, wait, no, I’m thinking about another bunch of words strung together that are actually true. Gorgeous blond women who look like Brooklyn Decker most definitely benefit from a bit more goodwill throughout the day, including but not limited to being able to bring more than 12 items through the express lane at the supermarket. But keep trying, romcom and sitcom plotlines in which the less conventionally but still good-looking friend actually wastes time arguing with the beautiful person about it.

4. Real men eat red velvet cupcakes, drink pinot noir and watch The Good Wife on guys’ night. But those same real men will make fun of other men who are actually decent and respectful of pregnant women and their feelings for being just that. I’m not actually sure what’s right, wrong or ripe for mocking on the “real men” spectrum presented on FWBL, and I took several gender studies classes in college. I hope we can get this figured out soon, though, because I refuse to recognize gender as anything but a strict dichotomy in which phallus-bearers are clearly superior.

5. Even Playboy Playmates of the Year have to go to the gynecologist. I know, you’d think they’d have magic vaginas that never need Pap smears or other important health checks the rest of us plebes require.

6. “The best part of getting married is you get to let yourself go,” Andi asserts. “What about love, companionship, intimacy?” Jules asks.

Next week: The gang watches a sex tape from Andi and Bobby’s honeymoon, so be prepared to learn another valuable lesson. If you do record yourself having sex, maybe don’t leave it somewhere your friends with no boundaries will find and watch it.

Friends With Better Lives, rated TV-14, airs on CBS on Mondays at 8:30/7:30 C.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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