September 22nd 1994, NBC aired the pilot for “Friends”, a sitcom set in New York City, chronicling the lives of six twenty-something year olds attempting to master the art of adulthood. The Network issued 10 seasons of self-growth, the search for the dream career and the making and breaking of relationships. Fast-forward to 2018; reruns are played daily, friends fest is touring the country and Central Perk t-shirts are selling out in Primark. During its lifespan, Friends has crossed over to a younger generation who have also developed an admiration for the series. But why is that? What is it about this show that it maintains such a dedicated following more than 20 years later?
- The Idyllic world of adulthood
As much as we don’t want to admit it, it’s highly unlikely that any of us are ever going to have a life like the ones on TV, no matter how realistic they make it look. There is no way a 25 year old could have a nice flat in the middle of the city unless they were embezzling or had a sugar daddy. We can’t spontaneously run off to the beach or Las Vegas for the hell of it. We can’t ditch work to mull about in Starbucks without the risk of losing our jobs. All of us normal people are condemned to a life of 9-5 and debt. Maybe if we insert ourselves into the dialogue we can pretend that we are the neglected seventh friend as an escape? Because let’s be honest, we’d all rather reenact all 10 seasons than go down our own unpredictable paths.
- Apparently finding “The one” is quite easy
Well for them it was. After years of meaningless and dysfunctional relationships, it turns out that all they had to do was cross a hallway. Then before we knew it, Monica and Chandler are married with twins and Rachel’s got off the plane for Ross. So sorry Janice, Richard and Emily, you were just the stepping stones to their happily ever afters. However, for us it’s not as simple as trying to look at our friends a bit differently, (well it works for some, so it wouldn’t hurt just to consider the possibility) but sadly the rest of us have got to continue crossing those stepping stones. At least “Friends” gave us that sense of false hope that we won’t be waiting much longer, and hopefully we won’t go through as many divorces as Ross did…
- Loneliness doesn’t exist in New York City
And we hope that it doesn’t exist for us as we move onto the next phases of our lives. We’re constantly moving around as adults. We move out, go to university or employment then we move again to work somewhere else. It’s a constant cycle of new environments and new people. And we keep hoping we still have time to have coffee in the week with the ones we care about the most.
The show also makes us to think about the company we keep. Despite all the new people we come across, we cling onto the ones who make the impact. The ones we can play table football with after a long day. The ones who will wear wedding dresses with us because it’s actually quite fun. The ones who make us smile. Friendship is one of the greatest things we can have and we put our all in it to keep it.
- It’s okay to not know what we’re doing
“What happens next?” It’s a question we constantly ask ourselves. When we graduate, when we succeed and when we fail. It can even be the last thing we think before we go to sleep. But it’s okay, because we’re not alone. No-one knows what the hell they’re doing or how they’re going to get to where they want to be. It will take a load of hard work and patience as Rachel showed us. It may take some duds and demoralising jobs, like STD Ads or dancing in a 50’s diner (We really hope not, those are very extreme examples.) It may not even be what we expected, Chandler never expected to work in advertising. But it’ll be alright because we’ll get there eventually with a few good Friends to support us along the way.
So why do we love it so much?
Because it’s a reflection of all our basic desires. We want the comfortable job that we actually enjoy going to. We want a nice little flat that we can call home. But most of all, We want those people who will cheers us on and watch as we achieve these goals.“Friends” is the best representation of that on TV. Through watching this show we take away a valuable message, the ones who really care will be there for us and that’s something to truly treasure.
Text by Temi Ade-Coker
Picture research by Anna Irina; featured image from Pinterest.