The One With 20 Years of Friends

Photo from Wikipedia

Can you believe that it will be 20 years this year since Friends first graced our TV screens? It aired for the first time in the US on 22nd September 1994. We had to wait ages for France to catch up of course, until April 1996 for those who had cable, and June 1997 for the rest of us poor souls. Dubbed of course, which was… well, interesting for sure, especially in hindsight (and they changed the voices for the last 2 seasons – dubbing, it’s the spawn of evil in so many ways).

I was seventeen in 1997 and not allowed to watch the show because of all the adult sex talk yet despite the fact that I don’t remember how or where or when I first started catching up, it still feels like Friends is part of my young adulthood and my psyche at some subconscious level. That’s certainly how it felt a couple of weeks ago when I suddenly decided I wanted to watch the entire show from start to finish. Everything felt so familiar; it was like slipping on a comfy sweater and settling down for a night with a, well, a friend actually…

I watch lots of boxsets but I’ve never thought of watching Friends this way so this has been a bit of a treat. I also realised that I missed many episodes of the latter seasons over the years so I was very excited about this ‘project’.

So anyway, two weeks in and four seasons later… I have a few thoughts! I was watching the pilot and was amazed at how completely and utterly Friends-like it was. The tone, the jokes, the setting, it was a typical Friends episode right there and then in the first few minutes, strong and funny and utterly addictive. It was like stepping into a time-machine and coming out in the mid-nineties, which was such a formative time for adolescent me. And then, OMG the fashion! Honestly, early Friends is a crime against clothing; they all look so middle-aged with their big-golden-buttoned cardigans and big shirts over t-shirts. What were we thinking, honestly…

I am looking forward to so many things, and I also have questions, so here it is, my ‘things I can’t get over’ Friends List:

1. Everything Chandler & Monica: Yay! Their relationship is one of my favourites across all shows and I can’t WAIT to revisit it. I love relationships based on friendship, and theirs is the best. They’re cute and honest and had so many perfectly-captured moments, kudos to the writers.

2. Phoebe’s triplets: I remember nothing about this at all, apart from her brother is Giovanni Ribisi and he is adorably young in this.

3. Question: In Season 3, after Monica breaks up with Pete Becker (Jon Favreau, what a lovely man), why does she not continue to work at his restaurant? All you see after is Monica and Phoebe going on their catering venture, unless I missed a major plot point in a moment of distraction. She was the head chef, right? Why would she give that up even though they were no longer together?

4. In which Ross is the worst: Fact. I get the fangirling over Ross & Rachel as a pairing, I really do. But Ross? The guy who sleeps with Xerox girl the day after his break-up with Rachel, who is supposed to be the woman of his dreams? And then has the gall of getting angry at Rachel and demanding she forgives him because they were on a freaking break? He is the ultimate Nice Guy, and I don’t like him at all. I know we’re supposed to find him sweet and clumsy but No Thank You.

5. Rachel’s Assistant: I’d forgotten Eddie Cahill was in Friends! I loved him in CSI:NY and it took me the longest time to place him. I really should be quicker to visit imdb.com.

6. Paul Rudd: Even though I feel terrible for Hank Azaria’s physicist David because competing for Phoebe against Paul Rudd is harsh, man.

7. This one thing that Friends taught me: when Badgerman and I got married, we decided that we would start trying to conceive after one year. I was 29 and I didn’t want to get too deep into my thirties before trying for a baby. One of the reasons was the Chandler and Monica storyline. It’s not like I thought about this consciously but I was aware of it and I knew that there was no guarantee that we could just have kids because we wanted to whenever we wanted to have them; sometimes, things happen outside of your control and I didn’t want to take our fertility for granted.

8. Watching Friends makes me hungry: when it’s not Monica making candy or Thanksgiving dinner, it’s Joey and his sandwiches. I watched the cheesecake episode today and that cheesecake looked so good, had it been me, I might have eaten it off the floor too.

9. The age thing: It’s very different watching Friends in my thirties than it was in my twenties. I’ve caught up with them age-wise! How very strange, and, well, it started 20 YEARS AGO!!!! What the hell is that about??!!! I suddenly feel so ooooold…

10. And finally: there are so many other wonderful things I could mention… So tell me, what’s your favourite Friends moment?