So it’s 9:14 PM on the last Friday in January of 2016 and something is up. I’ve been on a quest to understand the point of the show Friends for quite some time now. I’ve never liked it, and I don’t know why. I’ve wanted to hate it- it’s the most popular sitcom of modern television, how can you not hate it? In the final two seasons, each of the six main characters grossed a million dollars per episode for being regular figures in society. All of my friends loved it, I mean all of them. And for god sake, if I heard “I’ll be there for you” one more time my last quarter of high school I would’ve killed whoever it was on spot.
Two years go by, and generally I begin to hear the show in conversation with acquaintances, almost as if they are revisiting old memories from younger days when the show was THE shit to them; Every girl comparing their actual friends to the characters, every guy passing over it as if they didn’t watch it, as if Ross wasn’t them, as if they didn’t relate to Chandler in some form or another. I mean all the little white guys wanted earrings at 15, it was the pinnacle of Eminemism (don’t worry about it, anyone post 2002 went through it).
I’m getting off subject. The point is EVERYONE for some reason or another just knew Friends was “IT” and I never understood why.
Until Sophomore year in college.
I’m twenty now, a fresh, ripe twenty. I like Sly & the Family Stone, herbal teas, black soul music from the 1970s and iPod classics; what a recipe for Friends hatred. Then I walked down to my residence hall basement and it was on. And I sat down. And I watched it. Season 3, you know the one. The bottleneck. “The One Where No One Can Get Ready”. And I watched it. And it was whatever, and then I watched another one, the one where they were competing in a game to get the apartment. And it was whatever too.
I come back the next day, and the words uttered from my lips “I think I wanna watch Friends”. Alert the presses. Put me into therapy. I’ve been… dare I say, hit? Three hours later, I’d finished a book, played a game with some friends and it was still on. Just in the background. Like that kid in high school you knew, but he would laugh at all the jokes at the lunch table, never let a word out, and then own a company by 23- an important one. The thing is, you never understood how CRUCIAL he was until you sat back and realized he’s always been absorbing the humor, the talk, the gossip until he found a use for it.
That’s what Friends does.
Do I like Friends? I really can’t say that, its only day four. But why have I watched it collectively 15 hours out of my 36 hour weekend? Why have I been so proactive with it on? Why has it gathered so many people down here to talk about it? Why does everyone INSTANTLY clap four times in the intro song. Hell even I did “the Friends clap” the first night I watched it. I knew the song by day two. I sang it drunk that following night. What is it about this show? It’s not really funny. But it works.
Friends isn’t that show that you watch for the wisdom. Danny Tanner doesn’t appear on DJ’s bed with that lackluster synthpiano piano playing as he teaches her lessons about womanhood and “growing up”. Friends doesn’t necessarily make you laugh until you cry. But you get a good laugh every 6 minutes. No one is really the standout (I mean Rachel is the finest woman alive in her prime, but she never makes you tune out Phoebe). Ross is… well, Ross, but you never hate him enough to only pay attention to Joey in the process.
It’s the relatability of the show… it’s the fact that you don’t have to watch it to watch it. It’s that show that you knit to. It’s that show that’s on when you need to finish a paper but you just don’t want to give a fuck. It’s the show that your friends talk about when someone walks in like “Hey!!! Friends is on!”. Everyone has a role, showing all of society. Maybe it’s because I’m 20 and I can understand where they’re coming from and all the things they are going through, and I’m not even out of college yet. There’s no figure that is an authority over any of them. They’re usually in two spots: the apartments or Central Perk. Much like my friends now a days.
It’s the fact that you are them, in a way. In the simplest way, you are them. Regardless of your race or ethnicity, you have a crew that’s just like them. They are like dry (insert here) characters. And you are one of them.
I don’t know how it’s gonna grow on me as time goes by. They are still the most overpaid “white people” actors/actresses I’ve ever seen (Like what the fuck?). Hate all you want, though, it’s more likable than I want to admit. Maybe at like 25, it’ll be even better… but maybe I’ll still be asking “Why Friends?”