7 Reasons Why We’ll Always Love Friends
The 1990s saw the resurgence of television’s all-American representation of urban life. Situation comedies became popular to living room audiences, and Friends came as a defining addition to our media consumption. The series began in 1994, and has developed into one of the most internationally successful television sitcoms we will ever know. It has been translated into several languages, and has even been dubbed in Japanese and Dutch. This has enabled Friends to gain momentum in its exposure and resonate with the broad market. This is a remarkable transnational accomplishment, as the humour and characterisation of Friends has prospered in other cultural contexts, despite its close connection to American references and culture. We waved the show farewell in 2004, after a Friends-filled decade of laughs and Central Perk coffee. However, Friends continues to identify with audiences of all ages, for hundreds of reasons. Here are seven to get us started.
7. The Beginning Sequence: Audiences That Clap Together, Stay Together
So no one told you life was gonna be this way.. (clap, clap, clap, clap)
I’ll admit it. Friends fans recite the lyrics and clap the opening part of the song. The beginning sequence, in this way, bring viewers together – especially in public. (Hearing strangers clap to it in a waiting room enables you to instantly gain new friends). It is here that we are introduced to Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Rachel – casually splashing about in a fountain at the Warner Bros. Ranch. The title sequence was filmed at a frosty 4am in Burbank, California, and thankfully so, paved the way for a joyful decade of singalongs before each episode.
The theme tune I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts is a clear addition to the show’s charm. The song was actually recorded specifically for its use in Friends. After this, a Tennessee DJ looped it as a full length song and played it on air, prompting their record label to ask The Rembrandts to finish the song with lyrics for more verses. Isn’t this a wonderful fact?
6. Smelly Cat: Actually, Phoebe’s Whole Repertoire
It’s essential to have some quirky Phoebe in our lives to bring us back down to Earth, even if she seems permanently off with the fairies. Miss Buffay is the eccentric, street smart, guitar playing friend, the “better twin” to Ursula, and alternative ego to Regina Phalange. Phoebe is adored for her questionably truthful lyrics and elaborate dubious stories about her previous lives. With a kind heart and the best of intentions, Phoebe pours all of life’s truths into her songs, however appropriate or unveiling they may be. Topics covered in her songs have included, though aren’t restricted to: midgets, little black curly hairs, goats, papier-mâché, and how animals become meat for hamburgers. A repertoire with extensive worldly diversity, if you will.
Smelly Cat was a particular stand-out in the hit comedy, having been recorded and televised with wind machines and all. A proud Phoebe showed her Smelly Cat video clip to the gang, who watched in disbelief in The One Where Eddie Moves In (Season 2). It’s a shame that this ode to the poor cat didn’t actually feature Phoebe’s real singing voice. Phoebe didn’t seem phased; “Oh, I am sorry but I am incredibly talented.”
Other honourable musical mentions include The Cow In The Meadow (Goes Moo), My Sticky Shoe, Little Fetus and First Time I Met Chandler (I Thought He Was Gay). Commendable work, Pheebs.
5. Janice: The Woman, The Legend
She is one of the most cherished recurring characters that the show has delivered. Our nasally voiced, big-haired, obnoxious drama queen Janice – and we wouldn’t have her any other way. Janice was introduced to us as Chandler’s long term on-off girlfriend in the first season, and I must say, Maggie Wheeler was the absolute stellar choice to portray THE Janice Litman Goralnik, née Hosenstein. Nineteen episodes featuring Janice, for me, just isn’t enough.
Viewers can’t help but warm to Janice, as the garish woman herself is completely unaware of her irritatingly piercing voice and trademark cackle. She is a truly likeable and alarmingly popular Friends character, with a personality so cringeworthy that you just have to accept her as being oh-so-Janice. It’s as if she’s a caricature of Fran Drescher in The Nanny, and with the hair to match. The amusement of Janice in Friends most definitely comes from her encounters with the six friends, who never seem to consider truthfully telling her the way they feel about her. Despite her annoying tendencies, the gang always steer away from any methods of doing so that may hurt her feelings in the process.
I adore the fact that Chandler’s guilt in trying to forever break things off with her, keeps Janice’s larger-than-life persona in the show. Even when he shakes her off, Chandler’s losing luck in dating always seems to direct him back to the comfortable territory of his first “love”, Janice. The One With The Mix Tape (Season 6) gave audiences a particularly treasured Janice moment, though she wasn’t even physically on screen. It’s an episode where Chandler and Monica are dating, and he forgets his Valentine’s pact to Monica to make her gift. Panicking in true Chandler fashion, he presents her with a mix tape he finds in his cupboard. Monica swoons, and they slow dance together to his apparent romantic song choices. The moment peaks as Janice’s recorded rendition of My Funny Valentine emanates in all its nasal glory. Monica’s reaction? Oh. My. God.
4. Ross & Rachel: A Love Story
The Ross and Rachel saga spans the entirety of the Friends ten seasons, easily ranking as the most complicated yet wonderful Will They Or Won’t They plots in sitcom history. Ross’ sights on Rachel since the ninth grade fed into their string of unsuccessful relationships over the seasons – with no amount of Barrys, Carols, Tags or Monas to deter their way back to one another.
Memories of our beloved Ross and Rachel duo are delightfully enjoyable and consistently heartfelt. The One Where Ross And Rachel.. You Know (Season 2) was Ross’ date with Rachel under the planetarium stars, over Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game and a juice box. Ross confirmed his chances of succeeding the bounds of the friend zone, as Rachel was seduced by the sweetest nerd on television. Then there was The One With The Morning After (Season 3) where Ross’ ill-timing introduced the recurring “We were on a break!” joke; hilariously resurfacing time and time again throughout the next seven seasons. The drunken escapades of Ross and Rachel lead to The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel (Season 6); Phoebe discovered Ross never actually annulled the Vegas marriage with Rachel. This had viewers cheering for the prospect of another chance for love between them. Though Ross is a big ol’ clumsy ball of good intentions, he comes out with lines like, “You complete me.. kitchen”, making me just want to face palm and squeeze him with love, simultaneously.
It is Ross’ sensitive nature, geek qualities and inability to ever get over Rachel (“He’s her lobster!”) that is the perfect compliment for Rachel’s impulsive, often high maintenance and romantic qualities. It makes the entire saga of their dating woes, the birth of Emma, the potential hospital proposal and Rachel’s move to Paris all the more rewarding. The suspenseful build up to The Last One Pt 2 (Season 10) brought us the most heart pumping airport chase since Home Alone. This final Ross and Rachel moment in Friends created the perfect, delicate and crucial moment that adds to the series’ lasting success: she got off the plane. Cue our sobs of joy whilst we spoon our boyfriends or tubs of ice cream: we can rest assured that Emma can now finally be raised by her hilarious, wonderful and loved-up parents, together, forever. Damn it Ross and Rachel, why can’t our lives be that romantic?
3. Chandler: The Hilarious Underdog
Friendswill forever be the only opportunity for 238 episodes to satisfy your Chandler fix. Personally, I’m still looking for the real-life reincarnation of him.
Chandler Bing (“Actually, it’s MISS Chanandler Bong”) is the comedic genius of the group, who executes his jokes at inappropriate times to break awkward silences, on an average day. The bromance between him and Joey delivers outstanding comedic value, though it is equally important that Chandler’s humour is appreciated individually. He is always delivering dry one-liners and daily observations, often missed in the laughs of the last joke. He always adds a hint of mockery to every situation, being sure to joke about himself as much as others. Honourable mentions include the jokes in The One With All the Resolutions (Season 5), where Chandler has made a bet not to make fun of his friends. His opinions soon surface, especially as Ross is wearing leather pants and Phoebe is trying to steal a plane. Ah well, it was worth his $50 loss.
It is, no doubt, Chandler’s mundane position in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration that allows him to be all kinds of funny outside his grey cubicle confines. This contrast is particularly funny throughout the ten seasons. Team Bing, any day.
2. Valued (& Believable) Characters
The likeability of the six young Manhattan friends has allowed the show to transcend its original nineties-to-early-noughties audience. The fact that they seem like real humans – not just TV humans – is a really important thing. Friends resonates with people through the human experiences of happiness, comfort, loneliness, rejection and success – the conditions that remind us of our losses and our gains. Similarly to a Shakespearean tragedy, Bright, Kauffman and Crane have created a text that presents human issues to ourselves; such issues that remain unchanged over time. Friends’ relevance comes from its representation of how we connect to others and ourselves, exploring the traits, relationships and values of young, modern, working Americans.
We see it in Monica’s passion and even obsessive compulsion towards the things she loves; Rachel’s spontaneity; Ross’ kind hearted attention to detail; Chandler’s sarcastic-though-supportive advice; Phoebe’s obscurity and confidence in her principles; and Joey’s slow-witted though incredibly caring nature. Each Friends character interrelates seamlessly, whilst individually signifying the qualities that allows them to support their own. They really would all make a solid friend, giving them a credibility and integrity that gives kudos to such successful execution.
The show’s original pitch to NBC explained: “And it’s about friendship because when you’re single and in the city, your friends are your family.” As perfectly articulated, Friends illustrates how companionship is the remedy to stay afloat through the pressures of life. This is why the show’s fans will always have a Friends-shaped soft-spot, right in their chest.
1. The Determination of Red Ross