Friends: A Completely Unsolicited and Vaguely Thorough Review of the Entire Series

Despite being a huge lover of sitcoms, there’s quite a few that I like, but haven’t watched in their entirety, or in order. Friends ran from 1994 to 2004 and despite enjoying it whenever I caught it on, I never saw the entire series, and I definitely didn’t catch it in order. So I decided to finally right that wrong and I set out to watch every episode from start to finish in their proper order. That was quite the journey!
I’ve decided to compile some of my thoughts on the show as I progress through it. Watching ten years of a show is quite a commitment and I had to talk about it somewhere… I know… no one asked for it, but you’re getting it anyways!

 

 

Friends is a time capsule for the 90s. Although the show bridges decades, going from the 90s to the 2000s, it’s early 2000s so it still carries that 90s charm through to the end for the most part. The 90s were my jam so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I enjoyed reliving it through this show. Things were simpler in so many ways and there’s an appeal to that. In general, I love the style both in terms of decor and fashion way better – I feel like with a few exceptions, there was a theme of comfort, and I’m all about that. But beyond clothing, the fact that they weren’t connected to smart phones or the internet 24/7 really stands out (actually this is something absent from nearly ALL of my favorite sitcoms…). There were times where technology certainly would have helped (I was amused by the simple fact that they had to call to get a plane ticket), but it’s absence also allowed for more conversation and just a general simplicity that I really appreciated. It’s hard to envision the show in a more modern world. The dynamics would have changed and it just wouldn’t be the same. There’s certainly an important takeaway when you go back and watch older television programs: we are on our devices WAY too much!

 

 

I really enjoyed all the different guest stars. I always nerd out so much when an actor I like or know from another show is on something else, and Friends is a great example. The show was on for ten years, so it’s really no surprise that they had so many different guest stars on, but it didn’t stop me from going, “omg!” every episode when I’d recognize different people. Some people looked like babies when they were on the show, compared to how they look now (not meant as an insult in any way), and other people seem to have never aged. Some are still in sitcoms, while others are now more known for their dramatic roles. I’m always amused by guest stars because depending on the actor, it can almost feel like one of their other characters is visiting a different world, rather than the actor simply taking on a new part.

 

 

No one locks their damn doors. I mean seriously. It’s New York City!! I just find it to be oddly trusting. I realize that if they did, it would impact the dynamics of the group as they wouldn’t be able to come and go as easily as they do, but I couldn’t not mention it. It just doesn’t feel realistic and it was something that once I noticed, I couldn’t unsee. To be fair, this is a trend on many a show – how else would Kramer make his famous entrance if Jerry locked his doors?!

 

 

The city gave me the feels. I love New York. Despite living upstate (as in I’m closer to Canada, than ye old big apple),  I have actually only been to New York a few times. I’d love to go more – hell, when I’m there I don’t even want to leave, but I just don’t seem to manage it as much as I’d like. Being a lover of the city, I just adore shows that are meant to be set in New York. Friends of course is one of those quintessential New York City shows. Despite the absolutely cheesiness of the city set (which so often comes off as absolutely fake), you still end up feeling like they’re in New York. Although there were many happy vibes from the show being set in NYC, I couldn’t help but feel sad whenever they showed the twin towers in the earlier seasons. I’m not sure if it was meant to suggest that Chandler worked in the WTC or just in the area but it honestly felt chilling whenever they showed the towers. That being said, I’m glad they didn’t remove them from the show as some programs have done since 9/11. As heartbreaking as it is, I think it’s important that we see them. After 9/11 you can notice some set changes that are obviously done in response and I like how they did that. It feels like a silent homage and I’m glad they went that route instead of addressing it through the characters themselves. I just think that was the right way to go.

 

 

I’ve never craved pizza or Chinese food so much in my life. This show made me seriously hungry!!! It made me miss the days of living somewhere where I could easily order delivery. I think I ended up ordering Chinese food pick up twice while I worked my way though the series? I ended up making pizza too. So thank you for all the hungry eyes Friends! Especially Joey!

 

 

Joey is the best character for sure. I mean, I don’t hate any particular member of the immediate group (I definitely dislike some other characters though… I’m looking at you Frank Buffay Jr…), but if I had to rank them, Joey would absolutely come first. Genius he is not, but he is a million other things instead. He is thoughtful and protective, with the biggest heart. He’s funny and despite a rather mediocre acting career, he sticks to what he is passionate about. They cast Joey has a ladies man, but he’s also incredibly protective of those that he cares about, especially the girls in the group. Friendships are important to him and it shows.

 

 

If I really had to rank the group in terms of my favorites, I think it would go something like this: Joey > Phoebe > Monica > Chandler > Rachel > Ross. But even after deciding that, I feel that I must say it’s not that simple. Joey & Phoebe are definitely my favorites, but as for the rest of the group, it largely depends on what is going on at any particular time. Sometimes Monica and/or Chandler piss me off and drop lower on my list (see: end of season ten). Other times, I actually feel more sympathetic for Ross or Rachel and they raise up higher on my list. It all depends on where we’re at in the series, but Joey and Phoebe will always be my top two. ❤️

 

 

The way they fat shame Monica makes me cringe. The flash back episodes in season six are especially painful to watch. They could have joked about the attire everyone wore then rather than always making it about her weight. The way her family gets in on the action, supporting the premise that her weight will hinder her success in all facets of her life (or what is viewed as success by society) had me throwing hand gestures to the TV. Apparently “fat” women eat all day long, and they *certainly* don’t have sex! So. Much. Fat. Shaming. Through the entire series its a constant and honestly it might have been funny to some, and maybe I would have laughed a bit if it had happened less frequently. Perhaps the time also influences the way it comes across (both then, and now), but I honestly felt it was too much and totally cringe worthy. Monica’s weight when she was younger wasn’t as offensive as how her family and friends treated her then and even later in response to it. It’s definitely my biggest gripe with the show.

 

 

Most of me wants Ross and Rachel together…. But I can’t deny that a part of me wants Joey and Rachel to end up together. Not even because I think they belong together or anything. Not for Rachel’s benefit. But for Joey. Matt LeBlanc gives such an excellent performance when it comes to Joey and his feelings for Rachel. It’s electric and you can really feel it. I just want Joey to be happy. I hate that the show ends in such a way that suggests that Joey is alone – not just romantically, but in terms of the group in general. Monica & Chandler move to the suburbs and now have twins to care for. Phoebe is around but married, and I assume, that Ross and Rachel are busy as well. Not to say that I don’t picture them all getting together still, but with so much change, I feel that Joey is left in the dust. Yes, I know there is the (unsuccessful) Joey spinoff and that he allegedly goes to LA but honestly I don’t see that as realistic at all (I haven’t really seen it, only clips on Youtube and I have so many questions…). I can’t see Joey leaving New York!! I mean, he stuck through so many lulls in his career, why would he leave now? He’s the cliche Italian-American New Yorker. It reminds me of when the girls in Sex and the City go to LA, or when Caroline and Max go to LA in 2 Broke Girls. They all appreciate New York more when they return because its in their blood. Perhaps that spinoff would have done better had he stayed in NY.

I don’t know what exactly I would have wanted for Joey, but I feel bad that everything changed around him – and so quickly (I’m not a fan of change though).

 

 

I’m honestly kind of meh about Phoebe ending up with Mike. It’s not that I have anything against Mike (played by Paul Rudd) or anything, but I just don’t find him as believable of a suitor for Phoebe. I think she belonged with David (Hank Azaria). I know we didn’t get to see much of them together as he was always in and out thanks to working in Minsk, but when they were together, there was a more believable chemistry. He was a bit eccentric and that jived with Phoebe, whereas Mike was quite normal (at least in comparison). I feel like toward the end they completely change Phoebe – toning her down and making her much more simple and subdued. Yes people change and evolve over time, but in some ways, it felt like they were changing her personality entirely. It just felt a bit off.

 

 

I hate the end. Not just in a sad, “oh, why is this show ending?!” sort of way, although that is definitely a feeling I had. I hated how they tied things up. The idea of Monica and Chandler moving to the suburbs just straight up annoys the crap out of me. First, why in hell would they leave that gorgeous rent controlled apartment?! Are they insane?? Why would they leave the city – where they’re closer to their jobs and their friends?! It just makes no real sense to me. They act like it’s for the kids, but what about Ross and Rachel – somehow they’re raising kids in the city and they’re not the only ones. Why do all these shows try to push the idea that children can’t exist in the city? Friends isn’t the only one where you see this theme. If it hadn’t been the final season, I don’t see how that would have worked – I think if the show had continued, they would have ended up moving back eventually. Or at least, that’s what I hope. I don’t picture them in suburbia and never will.

 

 

I just went through an emotional experience. Last off, let me just say that watching the entire series from start to finish was quite the emotional roller coaster. I knew I liked Friends before, but now I love it and I understand why its such a popular show even now. It allows us to go back to a simpler time (one which perhaps we romanticize but hey, given our current climate, is it really any surprise?), which is something I really adore about older sitcoms. When I think of my favorite sitcoms, they’re nearly all classics from the past. We live in a chaotic world and I appreciate having the ability to unplug and escape through them sometimes. This group of friends is also quite special. Like The Golden Girls, they show us a non-traditional family in some ways. Like Sophia and Dorothy, Ross and Monica are blood relatives, but the rest of the group feels just as much like family without such connections. They go through love, and heartbreak – and they definitely bring the audience with them. Watching from start to finish just made me concrete in my opinion that Friends is truly one of the gems of television. With that being said, I actually don’t know that I would want them to ever do a revival. I think that’s a tricky thing to accomplish well and it’s hard for me to envision these characters outside of the world they exist in. What do you think? What do you think that would look like? Where would the characters be now?

I wanna know what you think! – The hard part of watching a show that’s older is that you don’t always have someone to discuss it with – so I’m all down for some discussion!! 🙂

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.