Friday, January 9, 2015

You Probably Never Saw This Coming . . .

Yes, I have a confession: I like watching Friends.

I could just end on that statement right there, drop the mic and walk off the stage. But I guess I can spare a few more words to explain. Ha!--A few? *ahem* Anyway ...

So, you see, recently Netflix decided to put all 10 seasons of the hit NBC show, Friends, up for streaming. And it's weird because I never actually liked the show at first. Nor did I have any friends who liked it, either. It was never really targeted for my demographic, appealing instead to the naive, vanilla-white college students where I went to school and whom all thought that they would move to the big city after graduation and live like these characters do. Only, I came from that big city -- and it looked nothing liked the one depicted on the show!

Friends is about six 20-somethings living in New York ('though filmed on a back lot in L.A., naturally), who stumble through every-day and often comedic encounters as they filter through life's ups and downs, break-ups, promotions, firings, relationships, etc. You know: the basic sitcom formula, but with very adult themes considering that the show was not centered around a core family in the traditional sense, but rather the familial bond made between friends living far from home in a large metropolis.

Friends first aired in the Fall of 1994, which is the same time I left New York City to attend college in northern Vermont. I would walk by the tv lounge in my dorm and find so many fellow students crowded around the tv watching this new show that was suddenly all the rage. And of course, because it was so popular, I decided then and there that I would never watch it. I mean, please: certainly something that appeals to all these idiots could not possibly appeal to me, right?

But then a funny thing happened. Because Friends would air right before another tv show I was addicted to at the time (that being Highlander: The Series, of course!), more often than not I would be forced to wait in the tv lounge for all the Friends fanatics to get up and leave so that I might use the tv to watch my beloved show. Inevitably I started showing up earlier and earlier just to secure the tv for myself, and would unfortunately have to sit through an entire episode of Friends as a consequence. Little by little it started to grow on me, and I found myself inexplicably laughing along with every other undergrad in the room. As much as it pained me to admit, I started to love the characters on the show. They each had their specific quirks and charms, and on a whole the chemistry of the ensemble cast was hard to resist. Even more bizarre, I began to feel a kinship with those watching the show in the tv lounge with me. I never spoke to any of them (in retrospect, I should have), but the fact that we all shared in the same humor of Friends . . . it was quite the bonding experience.

So, in time, I became quite familiar with Friends and its specific appeal. While I never did become a dedicated viewer (sometimes even missing whole seasons), after college I would on occasion drop in to catch an episode. And now, so many years later, it holds a special nostalgia in my heart, this show. I didn't think I would get back into it again when I first saw it appear as a recommendation in my Netflix streaming queue. But then I thought: why not? For old times' sake, right? Plus, each episode sans commercials are roughly only 22 minutes long! Easily digestible for anyone with a busy schedule or limited free time. Except: I often find myself watching 2 or 3 episodes per night. Usually before bedtime. And it's awesome!

This show still stands up well today, and is often immensely funny. As someone who is now well past his 20-something days, viewings do bring with them a certain wistful yearning for a time in my life that I totally took for granted. While the lifestyle this group of friends lived was completely unrealistic to the New York I grew up with and lived in myself, at its core the show tells a very special story about friendship and shared struggles that are, of course, universal and timeless in this city.

If you have Netflix and have never seen this show before, I highly recommend you add Friends to your watch list. Like I said before, each episode is very quick to watch. And it's all relatively light fare, so if you need something to watch where you can check off the brain and simply sit back and enjoy a few good laughs at the end of the day--then this is the show for you!


  1. Hi FRIEND!!! :) See what I did there? Ahh yes, I remember having "Friends" watching parties with my then boyfriend and a few others. We'd cook dinner and watch the show and laugh and talk about next week's episode. I stopped watching it at some point. Then it got really dumb. But you know what? I watch it nightly before going to sleep. ha!

  2. So we do the same thing, huh? Fantastic! Yeah, I'm still watching one or two episodes per night just before I go to sleep. It's a great way to wind down the day, and also the show's humor often leaves me on such a high note. Which is probably a better way to go to bed at night than being racked with anxiety, doubt, and negativity about living alone and what have you. I think Friends might just be therapeutic! Shocking! Although, like you, I never did catch the later seasons. I vaguely recall the show getting bad at some point. I'm kinda dreading when that happens, but right now I'm only 5 episodes into Season 2. There's 8 more seasons to go!


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