“Friends” – the horse that keeps being beaten and refuses to die. But what makes this TV show everybody’s darling?
As of Jan. 1, “Friends” is available to stream on Netflix. This makes “Friends,” first released in 1994, one of the more dated TV shows Netflix offers, and still the excitement was great when the streaming service first announced its plans to add “Friends” to the program.
“Friends” revolves around six friends in their mid-twenties who live in New York and are confronted with issues that come with growing up and taking responsibility.
One reason for the show’s popularity might be sheer nostalgia. Many people who are now in their 20s grew up with Chandler, Rachel, Joey, Monica, Phoebe and Ross and followed their (fictional) lives closely. We saw them become friends, get jobs, grow up, break up and make up, get married (and divorced) and become parents – no surprise people still have them in fond memory.
Which brings me to my second point: there’s always a generation that can relate to them. When I watched Friends as a kid, I envisioned myself living in a nice apartment in New York with a bunch of cool friends. But college taught me there is so much more to growing up.
“So no one told you life was gonna be this way,
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA…”
When the “Friends” theme song becomes uncomfortably true, it is undeniable evidence that you have arrived in adulthood.
Particularly Rachel is a character to which many college students can relate. In the first episode, she leaves her fiancé at the altar, moves in with her high school friend Monica, gets cut off from daddy’s credit cards, needs to find a job and grow up.
We all can share the feeling of leaving the nest for the first time and being responsible for ourselves – including grocery shopping, working a job we don’t like and making sure we are somehow working on a successful future.
But when life is especially tough, there is nothing more comforting that to watch other people’s struggles. Yes, you forgot to hand in that essay and the guy you met at the bar yesterday doesn’t text back – but hey, at least you aren’t pregnant with your brother’s triplets or have to move out of your apartment because you accidently burned it down with your left-on curling iron.
Apart from its relatability and feel-good quality, “Friends” is really well-made. There is a timelessness to it many other TV shows from the 90s do not possess. Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Home Improvement are examples of 90s shows that simply do not pass the test of time.
Besides the questionable 90s and early 00s fashion, the show’s universal story lines and themes ensure its relevance.
Witty dialogs, well-rounded characters and realistic yet funny and clever story lines are what make “Friends” one of the most popular TV shows even almost 21 years after it first aired.