F.R.I.E.N.D.S - Still There For You (Even After All These Years)
Good news: Friends will still be there for you, like it's been there before, on Netflix.
When Netflix seemingly announced that it would no longer carry the beloved '90s sitcomin 2019, the internet erupted in what felt like the biggest breakup of the year. (My existence relies on a daily shot of Chandler sarcasm). Soon after, however, the streaming service recanted, announcing that the show would continue to run on the platform for at least another year.
No matter which city in the world and what time of day, pretty much all of us can tune in to an episode of the TV sitcom Friends. The comforting familiarity of this gang of six enables us to sit down, smile and relax in the company of old mates.
The series starting in 1994 was an instant hit with just about everybody - crossing age and cultural divides. All of us were able to identify ourselves and our friends in at least one of the characters and the situations they found themselves in.
The magical formulae seems to have resonated with every generation since. Todays teenagers are still tuning in to discover for themselves the unique blend of warmth, wit, charm and comfort Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Monica provide. And loyal fans keep tuning in for a “Friends” fix whenever they need cheering up or just need a smile.
Friends allows us to feel part of that ‘TV’ friendship group. We watched them get together, split up, get hired, then fired. We attended their weddings, shed tears when their hearts broke. There was high emotion but always the humour cut through, keeping us smiling and believing that no matter what, if you have your friends you can get through. A message that seems as relevant today as in the 90’s.
When you think of feminist pop culture, Friends isn't exactly top of the list. Maybe we're all just too bedazzled by how Rachel's hair was so perfect all the time. Or, maybe we were too preoccupied with the love triangles, Chandler's jokes, and the sense of urgency with which one should pivot. Upon re-watching — which we've been known to do every couple of days — we found a new take on the '90s sitcom. In the reruns we've discovered many a moment of female empowerment like when Monica schools Chandler in the art of the female orgasm or when Phoebe becomes a surrogate mother or even when Rachel goes back to work after Emma is born. It's not just from the ladies, either. The men, too, have their girl-power scenes.
The enduring appeal of Friends is hard to pin down. The scripts were ingenious and the casting stellar - the gang gelled brilliantly, you rooted for all of them and you believed in their genuine connection.
Knowing that the actors were all friends off screen and stood together as a unit also helped endear us to the characters they played. Friends has that ‘X Factor’ that TV producers dream of and which is difficult to replicate - the stars aligned for this piece of TV history and its appeal does not seem to be waning yet. Fans all have a plethora of favourite moments, I know I have many, but the ‘ahh’ moment that I had rooted for all those years came in the last episode when Rachel opened the door and said “I got off the plane”.
What’s your favourite Friends moment?