This Friends From College Sex Scene Changed Everything

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Friends From College season 2 finale, “The Wedding.”
It’s easy for a TV sex scene to carry some heavy narrative weight. Oftentimes, they’re a culmination of sexual tension that’s been brewing for episodes (or, seasons). Other times, they’re so boundary-pushing, they change the limits of TV forever. When viewers are lucky, they’re simply very sexy.
Then there’s the quickie in Friends From College season 2’s “The Storage Unit.” After some wine and walks down memory lane, central estranged couple Lisa (Cobie Smulders) and Ethan Turner (Keegan-Michael Key) quickly hook up in the Netflix episode’s titular storage unit. From first kiss to awkward premature ejaculation, the entire scene takes less than half a minute. Lisa immediately flees, and both halves of the couple return to their separate paths. They divorce in the cold open of the next episode, “Out All Night.”
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Friends From College seems to suggest this is the appropriately fumbled end of the Turners' relationship… until we get to the end of season 2 finale “The Wedding.” That episode suggests an uncomfortable eight seconds of sex was the most important scene of the entire show — and Lisa and Ethan will never be able to quit each other.
Because, you see, Lisa is pregnant with Ethan’s baby. Lisa and Ethan tried conceiving a child together through regular old sex for years — no dice. They tried with in vitro, which failed spectacularly in season 1. Lisa even began trying with new, ill-advised boyfriend Charlie (Zack Robidas), without realizing her baby dreams were already a nascent reality.
While this reveal should be a celebration, it’s actually a gut punch. Lisa realizes she’s pregnant moments after she and on-again, off-again crush Nick (Nat Faxon) wordlessly decide to give their relationship the old (Harvard) college try in penultimate episode “Fireworks.” It’s a long time coming after Lisa cheated on Ethan with Nick in season 1, and both halves of the burgeoning couple recently broke up with their respective new season 2 love interests. Lisa is, at last, hopeful.
At the same time, Ethan and Sam (Annie Parisse), who have been sleeping together since college and well into their own separate marriages, spend “Fireworks” going public with their new relationship. They even tell Lisa the news, and she doesn’t care because she thinks she’s carrying Charlie’s baby. Later in the episode, Sam and Ethan host a Fourth Of July celebration as their coming out party. By finale “Wedding,” Ethan reveals to Sam he bought them the romantic trip to Paris they've been fantasizing about since college.
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Everything is happening for everyone. Then, the Friends friends slowly start to find out about Lisa’s baby and the identity of the father. Nick is enraged that Lisa’s “vibes” suggested they could finally be together — that’s why he blew up his previous relationship. Still, Nick shows up to Marianne’s (Jae Suh Park) house the next day to take Lisa to her gynecologist appoint. He seriously wants to help raise the baby with her.
Unfortunately, Ethan’s best friend Max (Fred Savage) tells him about the baby news. So, the dad-to-be also rushes to Lisa’s side even though she claims she doesn’t want him there. After Lisa bolts, Ethan beats Nick out of Marianne's apartment to follow his ex-wife to the doctor’s office. Again, she tries to block him from joining her on this journey, but somehow Ethan arrives at the appointment before Lisa. She’s thankful to see him.
“Yes, I checked you in,” Ethan assures Lisa before she can even finish asking. He has completely forgotten about Sam, Paris, and their trip that exact day; somewhere else in Manhattan, a devastated Sam slowly realizes her boyfriend isn’t coming. All of a sudden, you remember Lisa and Ethan were together for well over a decade and married for much of that time. They had to care deeply for each other before the high chaos of Friends From College.
And that pro-fidelity message is the visual the Netflix comedy goes out on in the final seconds of “Wedding.” Sam returns home to her less-than-ideal husband of years, Jon (Greg Germann), and their fancy house. At the same time, Lisa and Ethan cry in a doctor’s office while staring at the yolk sack that will grow into their baby. The damaged couples we met at the very beginning of College are back together — all because of eight second of bad sex.
Friends From College: an advertisement for the tortured status quo and condoms.
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