The first season of Friends came out in 1995, and no one could have anticipated what a hit it would be. It was the show that bought Jenifer Aniston into the spotlight, and it would be the show that everyone would be talking about for years to come.
Full of ’90s references and in-jokes tailored especially for fans, it’s no wonder that it became such a cultural phenomenon back in its day. But why are fans still so obsessed with it today?
Since the show landed on Netflix, a new generation of viewers has been flooding onto the platform to watch the gang navigate through love, life, and friendship.
Netflix reportedly spent $80 million to keep the show on their platform, and there’s good reason for their decision. People just can’t seem to get enough.
There’s no disputing that the writing is excellent, and as far as sit-coms go, Friends goes unrivaled. The writers did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life and each episode tells a story.
And yet one can’t help but wonder how a generation of “woke” individuals are OK with Joey’s insensitive womanizing behavior, the lack of inclusivity and frequent gender stereotyping and homophobia.
While some fans will argue that the show was generally quite progressive and is still funny today, there seems to be something greater at play. There are plenty of recent and less problematic shows where the characters get brilliant one-liners. And yet people still return to Friends. So what is it that makes this series in particular so special?
We’ve debated long and hard over this, but we finally think we understand. It’s all to do with the fact we can relate to the characters no matter what situation they are in.
At one point or another, every character ends up at rock bottom. Be it a relationship ending, the death of a loved one, losing their job or a third divorce, life treats the characters on the show as unfairly as it treats the rest of it.
Somehow though, against all odds, the characters always make it through. Friends thus teaches us that no matter how bad things get (and it may get bad), there’s always hope. And at the end of the day, it’s the friends you choose to surround yourself with who will help you get through.
So yes, the writing is amazing, the cast is fantastic and the show has us cracking up over and over again, but these are not the reasons why Friends has remained a cultural favorite.
Ultimately, Friends teaches us that although there will be ups and downs, there’s always the chance to look back over life with a sense of pride and gratitude for those around you.
The characters are so intricately crafted that we end up feeling as if we know them, so that by the end of season 10, we feel part of the gang ourselves. And with the gang at hand, we know that eventually, everything will be OK.