“When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year, but I’ll be there for you.” This is the famous theme from the TV show Friends, you know, the show that finished fourteen years ago but is still watched by millions on Comedy Central and Netflix. The theme is also very apropos as today when we have to get over the doom and gloom of our day, the humour of Friends is still “there for you.”
There have been plenty of hit shows over the last decade or so, but none of them have seemed to resonate with people quite like the Central Perk based show. Not everyone can understand the life of working in a Hospital like in Scrubs. Not everyone has a rich womaniser in their life like in Two and a Half Men. Also, no one knows what it’s like to have superpowers, which takes up a lot of space on television these days. However, we all have a desire to have a close-knit group of people we can confide in every day.
Friends take this universal desire for friendship, and they’ve created a visual for the audience’s desire. Now we all want the characters of the show in our lives. Who doesn’t want a Chandler Bing making them laugh or a warm hostess like Monica or even a good-looking pal like Joey? It’s realistic and very believable goal audiences have. To have friends like the characters they still watch to this day.
The show is also about the every day. Activities and events that are not outlandish, but they are things we have or will experience. We can all relate to when Chandler is nervous about a job interview and seeks the help of Phoebe, remember? “Poo!” Also, the majority of people have gone through the struggle of learning how to ride a bicycle, and that’s why we can still relate to a thirty-year-old Phoebe when Ross tries to teach her how to ride one. They are basic plots that stretch over a breezy thirty-minute time period.
While Friends characters and plots are important, the comedic aspect is another reason why this show is still so big today. Real situations mix with the slightly goofy elements of our characters. Chandler’s biggest struggle preparing for an interview is resisting the urge to make jokes. His facial expression after the interviewer says “duties” brilliantly shows his battle to avoid making a joke about poo. In the case of Phoebe learning how to ride a bike, without a comedic element, this would be incredibly boring. That’s why the writers flip it, so Phoebe experiences something that most go through at the age of eight or nine years old. The show allows us to sit back, laugh, and enjoy a story without too much thinking.
And if you thought the Friends series was just for the everyday Joe, you’re wrong. The writer’s ability to have a wafer-thin plot like Ross and Chandler fighting over a joke carry the weight of a particular episode without losing the audience’s interest or lacking entertainment is irritatingly impressive. For those in the film and television community, the difficulty of writing a script is common knowledge. However, when someone can abandon rules like including clear plot points, and still make a silly storyline like fighting over a joke work, one cannot help but applaud.
There is a saying that goes around when people discuss narratives for the big (or small) screen, and that’s that times change but emotions do not. While times have certainly changed since Friends came to an end in 2004, most notably we don’t see VHS’s much nowadays, the emotions are still very much the same. The struggles of relationships like Ross and Rachel is still very relevant, making bill payments or just being there for a friend when they need it most. These things will never be outdated. That’s why Friends will never die – it’s got a little reality, a little humour, and that’s all we need in our everyday lives.