Fall Sitcoms 2014 and the rise of the BBF: Bearded Best Friend

Three isn’t just the magic number. Three also makes a trend, so what to make of the Bearded Best Friend who’ll pop up on at least three new sitcoms this fall?

Note: It’d be four or more in 2014 if NBC renews Undateable (featuring Ron Funches), and if you count Al Madrigal’s character on NBC’s About A Boy when he lets it go scruffier.

But most definitely Zack Pearlman (FOX’s Mulaney), John Gemberling (NBC’s Marry Me) and Henry Zebrowski (NBC’s A To Z) fit the BFF bill. And the TV critics wasted little time hoping and wishing these guys would explain their hiring back to them at the summer TCA press tour this past week.

Pearlman’s take: “It’s strange that I keep seeing me in different TV shows. It’s funny that everybody caught on to the same trend, but I’m happy to be part of it.”

Gemberling, who also recurs on Comedy Central’s Broad City as Abby’s roommate’s squatter, noted: “I didn’t always have a beard, but I found I got more work with a beard. I’m a chubby, bearded guy, what can I do? I’m going to get cast as the schlubby loser. I like to believe — I don’t like cliches — I like to think I strive to bring something new to it.”

And Zebrowski suggested it was a spillover effect from the BBF role in big-screen rom-coms and the like. “Thank you, Seth Rogen!”

“The thing about the famous beards of history — Paul Bunyan, the Bounty guy — powerful beards create a mystery about the chin,” Zebrowski said. “This part said ‘handsome,’ so I was flattered.”

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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