I Just Don’t Get...Friends

Seen the one where they all bore each other to death?
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Seen the one where they all bore each other to death?

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Judging by the discussion we had in the office this morning, everyone loves Friends. How can you not when we’re constantly being hit round the head with it every time you turn on a TV? Nine years (nine!) after the final episode, we’re no closer to the end of Friends. It’s the Diet Coke of American sitcoms, the yard stick by which every successive show will be judged. But this isn’t a good thing. Never has there been a phrase more likely to assure me of a show’s lack of quality than ‘It’s the new Friends!’

I resent this phrase because 1, it implies Friends is good and introduced standards which all other shows must adhere towards and 2, because it implies everyone loves Friends so much that we’re all shuffling about searching for something to replace this dearly departed part of our lives. We don’t need a ‘new’ Friends, we have the old Friends, it’s on the television RIGHT NOW. We don’t need New Girl or How I Met Your Mother, they’re pale imitations of what Friends was, and that wasn’t very good to begin with.

If I don’t like Friends I shouldn’t watch it right? Clearly I don’t, you clever dick, but there was a time when I’d be forced to sit through it all like Alex DeLarge at the cinema. I’d like to blame an ex-girlfriend for this, but it wasn’t really her fault, it was the fault of E4, churning out constant re-runs every night. Don’t get me started on weekends. Clearly, you’d have to be a nutjob to watch all of these episodes, especially when everyone knows them all off by heart. If one more person tells me ‘I was watching Friends last night, it was the one where...’ I’ll jab a pen in my eyes just to distract myself. Who cares? Friends isn’t Only Fools and Horses, it’s not funny and fuck all happens apart from Monica cleaning the purple flat. Yes, that’s the basis of a lot of the show’s jokes: one of the characters likes to clean...

A friend (ha) suggested I didn’t appreciate Friends as ‘I wasn’t there’, i.e. I wasn’t a thirty something during the nineties and so couldn’t emphasise. Friends may well have been some zeitgeist commentary on being young(ish) in that decade, but what does that mean to me, aged 23 in 2013? Nothing. I grew up in the nineties, they were horrible. I don’t want to experience them again through cheesy American TV.

This, I think, is my main problem with the show: it’s just so bloody cheesy, whilst simultaneously oozing sugary sweetness from every pore. Joey and Chandler had a duck in their flat. Ross loves dinosaurs. Joey loves sandwiches and Phoebe is a bit zany. Basically, the whole appeal of Friends is that they’re dysfunctional in the most twee way possible. They should be adults, in charge of their lives, but in every episode it always seems like they’re stuck in second gear, pissing their way through their 30s. If you ask me, they all need to stop being so helpless and grow up. Someone in their 30s singing about a ‘smelly cat’ isn’t funny, it’s weird.

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When it comes to the characters, Chandler is the only one that’s remotely likable, mainly because of his shit jokes, (something I will always appreciate). We’re never too old for shit jokes, but no one should act like those caricatures Ross, Monica, Phoebe and Joey. Clearly, I’ve left Rachael off this list, but only because she has no discernable personality and just spends her time complaining (which is actually like a lot of people I know).

This good grace for Rachael/Jennifer Aniston (same thing) has allowed her to be the only one of the cast to carve out a successful movie career. We had Ross in Band of Brothers and Chandler has done a few things, but other than Monica screaming in that movie where everyone else also screams a lot, they’ve all been shit. This continued success of Jennifer Aniston is also annoying as she’s never been in anything good and every time I see her on screen I’m reminded of Friends.

As I’ve admitted, Friends is slightly better than the dross that followed it, but for this alone, for producers somewhere sitting down and saying ‘Hey, we really need a new Friends!’ with $$ in their eyes, we should all hate Friends. If you like rubbish TV full of gurning mid-level American celebs, Friends will forever be your Mecca, along with the likes of Sex and the City (don’t get me started). We’re now in the second golden age of television where more and more people want to watch great shows like Game of Thrones or Mad Men, rather then imitations and dated re-runs. I don’t want to watch a shit version of everyday life (albeit in an implausibly big New York apartment), I want distractions, guns and dragons, not 30-somethings eating cheesecake off the stairs.

Tell Tom why he's wrong here.