Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

After a rough couple of years, Dylan Dodds decided to chart his early adulthood in the only way he knew how – by comparing his life’s progress to that of the characters in the hit 90s sitcom, Friends. It’s an innovative way to experience a quarter-life crisis, that’s for sure.

Unfortunately, Dylan Dodds and Friends (Friends Not Included) lacks direction – Dodds hasn’t quite committed to the theme fully enough (this is especially frustrating because the idea is such a novel one). The parallels he does draw between his life and Friends are strong and amusing – the comparison of his friends’ relationships to those of the Friends ensemble is particularly funny but also goes on tangents which don’t tie into anything and end up feeling out of place.

Maybe Dodds feels that these anecdotes break up the monotony of the Friends theme. However, the parts of the show he spends discussing the sitcom are definitely the most enjoyable – even those of us in the audience who aren’t big fans of Friends know enough about it to laugh along, and his analysis is so endearingly thorough that it’s hard not to marvel at the effort he’s put in.

The choice not to lean into the theme is even more bemusing when Dodds reveals that he’s been writing a blog charting the trajectory of Friends and his life – the very thing his show claims to explore – for the past four years. In fact, one of the highlights of the show is when he reads directly from the blog, proving himself to be both an accomplished writer and a true Friends connoisseur. Would that work for an entire show? Of course not – but it provides a glimpse into the kind of content Dodds is capable of, even if he isn’t fully tapping into it here.

There’s a lot of good content in Friends (Friends Not Included); fears about growing old and more specific millennial worries which too many of us can relate to. Dodds has great rapport with the audience, which is only strengthened as he shares more personal stories that tie into the overarching theme. It’s just a pity that he doesn’t fully take advantage of his topic and run with it; the talent is definitely there.