“Not again.” “Yup.” “But I know I’ve seen this one before.” “Yup. So have I, and I can quote it word for word too.” This is a typical conversation that takes place at my house every Saturday, usually between my mum and me, and sometimes with my sister, but it’s always, always, about Friends. There are some programmes I may tire of constantly watching, but this 90’s sitcom is definitely not one of them.
Even though I can’t claim to watch the show from the beginning (I was four when the series first aired), Friends has become such a staple in my life, that I can’t imagine a time where I won’t be watching the show. It’s a series that always makes me laugh no matter how many times I’ve seen an episode. The characters are relatable despite being set in an entirely different time (the 90’s are over, sorry guys) but more importantly it achieves what very few sitcoms seem to get right, it was funny, and continued to be funny till the very end.
Seriously, I’ve yet to find a sitcom that has succeeded as much as Friends. A show that remains constantly funny whilst staying true to the main characters’ personalities, but also includes awesome character growth at the same time. And for a show that lasted ten years, it’s quite an achievement.
Shows that have come close to that, according to me anyway are Scrubs (I ignore that spin off series) and Fraiser (which is older than Friends and equally as funny, but I will love Friends more simply because I relate to it more). People are constantly mentioning sitcoms I should watch and I would, but try as I might, I can’t commit to them as much as I have with Friends.
But I’m not here to criticise other shows (and oh boy I could) but instead, I want to talk about that despite the many episodes I’ve watched (thanks to Comedy Central it’s almost daily), I will always love Friends and here are just some of the reasons why:
Chandler’s wit is always on tap, I mean I do realise Chandler’s funny one liners are as a result of the genius writers team. But Chandler always (well almost always) has a funny answer to everything, he is without doubt the comic relief to the show…well, adds even more comedy. Now he openly admits himself that he uses comedy as a defence mechanism, and I think that’s what makes his sense of humour even more funny – he’s human.
Chandler has many faults; he’s afraid of commitment, had a complicated childhood to say the least, and his sense of humour can go against him at times. But over the course of ten years we see him grow, get over these fears and faults, and become a great husband and father, but still maintain the wit we love him so much for. It’s unfair to say that Chandler is my favourite on the show because truth be told I love each of the six for different reasons, and they of course make me laugh for different reasons. But if there was a king of comic timing and just genius wit, there is no doubt it would be Chandler Bing. And if you still don’t believe me I’ll let these gifs speak for themselves:
Also fun fact, lots of fans including Lisa Kudrow originally thought that Chandler was gay. Even if that didn’t turn out to be true (Monica and Chandler’s love story below), it did spawn the many jokes and many lines of “I thought Chandler was gay”.
Lobsters aka Ross and Rachel
“She’s his lobster.” Admit it, everyone at some point has had a Ross and Rachel reference in their lives. They’re that one couple who despite all the obstacles and romances, and many many marriages, you just know they’re going to end up together.
But I won’t lie, I had my doubts in the last few seasons, especially with the blossoming romance of Joey and Rachel. But it became evident what was going to happen when neither of their romances (Joey and Charlie) worked out. Ross had always been in love with Rachel but, it took a while for Rachel to realise that, and then to realise that she also felt the same.
I think my favourite lobster scene is when all the gang are gathered around to watch an old video of Rachel’s and Monica’s prom. Through that home movie Rachel was able to see how Ross was willing to go to a high school prom with her (he being a college student at the time), so she wouldn’t have to go alone.
They were adorable from the get go, and of course the relationship broke down solely on Ross’ trust issues (and yah him cheating on Rachel, I am sorry Ross but your excuse of “we were on a break” doesn’t cut it). Despite their obstacles, many relationships and marriages, everyone knew that Ross and Rachel were endgame. I mean, it doesn’t take an accidental name slip at a wedding ceremony (iconic television), accidental Vegas wedding (again iconic), them having a baby together and everything in between to prove that.
While it was a long ride, it’s been a fun one to watch and to be honest, I wouldn’t have their story any other way.
Phoebe is one of the most sunny and positive characters to grace our television screens, which is an incredible feat considering the tragic life she’s led. She casually mentions her mother’s suicide, her father’s abandonment, living on the streets to survive and finally, her poor relationship with her twin sister, Ursula.
Yet despite this, she is an incredibly optimistic and selfless person. She hasn’t let life get her down, and has always been there for her family and friends. Even though her quirkiness is hilarious and albeit strange, I think we all know someone in our lives who we can refer to as a Phoebe.
Phoebe Buffay is definitely a source of a strength in the dynamic of the famous six. When Paolo hits on her she tells Rachel straight away, she gives the sweet Al Pacino butt speech to Joey, she helps Chandler pick out Monica’s ring, Phoebe sets up a catering business with Monica after poor Mon loses her job and she also encouraged Ross to go after Rachel and drove him to the airport so he could chase after his “lobster”.
Phoebe was also a surrogate mother for her brother and his teacher, who was also his wife (a weird storyline but stayed true to Phoebe’s character). I think because of Phoebe’s selflessness and sunny attitude it’s easy forget the hard life she’s led before. But despite being a much loved character for her quirkiness, Phoebe is someone of great resilience and is something definitely Friends should be applauded for. That’s why to me Phoebe’s quirkiness is definitely something to laugh at, but also something to be admired too.
Monica and the tache, I mean Richard
Look we all know Monica and Richard weren’t meant to be, but there was still something cute about them. I am personally not a fan of moustaches, but I can get the appeal of Richard, and why Monica went out with him. Of course at the end of the day they wanted different things and were at very different points at their lives, but there was no question on how much they loved each other.
Richard was willing to have children for Monica and because of that, Monica knew she had to let Richard go. Monica needed to be with someone who wanted the same things as she did and as much as they loved each other, it just wasn’t meant to be. We all know that wasn’t the end of Monica’s romantic trials, but Richard showed her what it was like to be in a mature relationship and mostly, what real love is like.
Smelly Cat and many more Phoebe classics
“Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat. What are they feeding you? Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat. It’s not your fault!” In my opinion you’re not a true fan of Friends unless you know all of the words to Smelly Cat, or at least the chorus.
Yes, Phoebe’s unusual lyrics in reality probably leave a lot to be desired, but they are witty, funny, and represent completely what Phoebe is about. I can’t pick a favourite song, but Smelly Cat is a classic, I do love “ode to a pubic hair” (so weird I know), or Phoebe screaming outside the newly engaged Chandler and Monica’s bedroom.
But my favourite is the Christmas one, where she struggles to find any rhyming words for Rachel and Chandler. It’s sweet, but also the gang’s reactions says it all. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve heard one of Phoebe’s funny musical interpretations, I will always laugh at her strange but catchy tunes.
Monica and Chandler aka “The Bings!”
After Rachel and Ross, there comes Monica and Chandler, and in my mind, the most realistic portrayal of a modern relationship on television to date. In the first few seasons they were neighbours and friends, and weren’t even considered remotely romantic until Ross’ wedding (second wedding).
There after some consoling and a lot of drink, the two hooked up and after that were inseparable.
They continued their liaisons back in NYC, sneaking around with the help of Joey, which also led to the most hilarious and iconic scenes of the series.
Seriously the best thing about their hush hush romance, was the unforgettable episode of which Rachel and Phoebe knew about Chandler and Monica, but they didn’t know that Rachel and Phoebe knew, you know(if you don’t get that, I can’t help you). And who could forget Ross’ hilarious meltdown at the sight of Chandler and Monica together.
They had turmoils but never rushed their relationship (even though there was Vegas), and you were rooting for them all the way. I won’t lie, I got emotional when they proposed (I wasn’t fazed by Richard’s reappearance then, because I knew those two were meant to be) and my heart broke for them when they discovered they wouldn’t be able to conceive a child together.
But despite all of these obstacles, they were a couple you could look up to, because they supported each other, encouraged each other and balanced each other out. They are definitely one of the best and most well written television couples to date, and you just know that the two of them are happy out with their twins (or maybe more kids, I wouldn’t be surprised) somewhere in the suburbs.
Joey and Chandler
E! described them as the best relationship on the show and quite frankly, I have to agree. The original inventors of the bromance and the roommates that you love to hate – Chandler and Joey had one of the most hilarious, but sweetest dynamics on television.
They were both so different but somehow despite this, they had the most compatible friendship. Chandler always supported Joey with finances, but also encouraged him when it came to his acting career (yes there was the deal with Vegas but he apologised, and in fairness he was right). And when Chandler needed a cover for his blossoming romance with Monica, Joey was there and put up with some strange cover stories in the process.
Like any relationship they had their difficult times. When Joey became a famous soap star, he promptly moved out and broke Chandler’s heart (but creepy Eddy was hilarious as Chandler’s roommate). Then there was the girl who got in between the boys(eugh Kathy..ok I did like her with Chandler), but Joey being the true friend that he is and gave his blessing for Chandler and Kathy to be together, even if it didn’t work out.
They had their own language, rules and were in a world of their own. It was almost heartbreaking to see Chandler move out of their bro pad, even if it was just across the hall, because as Joey aptly described “it’s an end of an era” and that it was. And of course everyone will constantly talk about the tumultuous times of Rachel and Ross, and the wonderful surprise that was Monica and Chandler, but to me, the best relationship of the show was the bromance of bromances; Joey and Chandler.
Phoebe and Mike
One of the later romances of the series but still a sweet one. Mike may have been discovered by accident by Joey, but he was definitely a perfect fit for Phoebe. From his piano playing skills to his own special brand of quirkiness, most friends fans had an inkling that these two were for keeps.
Of course things weren’t easy, especially when Mike said that he didn’t want to get married, which was something Phoebe clearly wanted. But Mike came back fighting for Phoebe in Barbados, after he realised that he didn’t want lose her to David. They eventually became engaged which led to one of my all time favourite moments – Phoebe and Mike’s wedding. It was made sweeter when the ceremony was done outside in the snow, and Phoebe was surrounded by her family aka her friends. Monica was her maid of honour, Chandler walked her down the aisle, Ross and Rachel were also a part of the ceremony but the sweetest touch was Joey stepping in to be the pastor. It was beautiful and perfect for Phoebe, but probably the most tear drenching part of that moment was not Phoebe’s gorgeous dress, but her vows to Mike himself.
The vows were beautiful because they summarised everything I love about Phoebe (look above). Phoebe explained that her whole life she had been searching for a family, and how she finally found it with Mike. After their big wedding there wasn’t too much on Mike and Phoebe themselves, but in the finale they spoke about the possibility having kids, and both seemed enthusiastic about it. So while we may never know what happened for sure with Mike and Phoebe, one thing is for certain Phoebe is happy, because she’s finally found her family and more importantly a “lobster” for herself.
What’s better than a classic Friends’ episode? Well, a classic Friends’ episode featuring a celeb cameo. And when it comes to celebrity cameos no other show has done it better, than Friends.
From Brad Pitt to Julia Roberts, and even George Clooney – Friends has had some amazing guest appearances.
Personal favourites for me are; Reese Witherspoon as Rachel’s little sister, Hugh Laurie – brief but brilliant apperance, Bruce Willis as the clingy, over protective dad, Jennifer Saunders as the mother-in-law from hell, Ben Stiller as the crazy boyfriend, and probably the saddest one of the list; Robin Williams and Billy Crystal discussing the possibility that Robin’s wife might be having an affair.
I am sure I’ve missed a few, but whenever a celebrity makes any sort of appearance in an episode, it’s always a good one.
Phoebe and Joey
They were never portrayed romantically, but oh boy they should have been. I know Rachel and Joey were matched in the last few seasons which I understand, but throughout the show, specifically in the middle, there was something cute about Phoebe and Joey. I think they understood each other more than the other friends in the group and after Chandler, Joey was definitely closest to Phoebe.
Maybe it’s because they were the last to enter the group of friends, or that they just have similar personalities, but there was serious flirtation between them both. My favourite moment was when Phoebe turned 30, and she realised she hadn’t achieved everything she wanted off her list, including being properly kissed. So Joey being the great guy he is, kissed Phoebe, so she could at least cross one thing off.
But I am ok with the fact that they didn’t end up together, mostly because Mike was pretty awesome, and was also played by the gorgeous Paul Rudd. But you can’t deny there that they had great potential and hey, even Matt Le Blanc and Lisa Kudrow even agreed with this idea. According to rumours (when I say rumours, Tumblr) the two stars asked creators if there could there be a plot that Phoebe and Joey were secretly sleeping together all along.
But alas it wasn’t meant to be, but romantic or not, they still had one of the sweetest dynamics on television.
Probably the next best thing on Friends after celebrity cameos, are the flashback episodes. I’ve decided to include the alternate universe ones in these too, because if Comedy Central can, why can’t I? I mean who doesn’t wonder what their life would be like if they had taken a different path.
But I think what made the alternate universe episodes so sweet, was that despite the different paths each of the gang had chosen, they still found a way back to each other.
The flashbacks were also great because they have been responsible for some iconic moments on Friends. From Ross and Rachel’s prom flashback, to Monica and Chandler’s disastrous thanksgivings – each of these allowed huge steps for the shows two main couples. I already discussed Rachel and Ross’ lobster moment, but Chandler and Monica’s thanksgiving flashbacks deserve some credit as well. While both are hurt from past memories, its Monica’s attempts to cheer up Chandler that leads to one of the most iconic moments on the show. Through Monica’s strange but hilarious turkey dance, Chandler was finally able to show his true feelings for Monica and say “I love you”.
So while these flashbacks are funny, they’re also important. Also who doesn’t want to see the gang in fluorescent 80’s gear and in perms, I know I do.
Follow your dreams
A strange one but when it comes to friends it’s sort of true. Each of the characters had dream of what they wanted to do and by the end of the series they each achieved it, well, ignoring a few detours along the way. Ross started off as a paleontologist (which is something I knew nothing about till I started watching friends, who said television shows can’t be educational). But Ross’ career wasn’t all smooth. For half of the season, he worked at the museum but after his disastrous marriage to Emily the dinosaur lover had a breakdown, which led to him losing his job there.
But things picked up for Ross career wise when he landed a position as a professor at NYU. For Rachel it was a gradual process when it came to her dream job which I discuss more below. But from starting out as a waitress to eventually receiving her dream job in Paris, Rachel showed that with hard work and persistence, you can make it with your dream career.
Which brings us to Joey, whose aspirations were a bit a harder to reach for, but it didn’t stop him anyway. Joey wanted to a pursue a career as a actor, and at the beginning it didn’t go well. Joey did some questionable gigs from Freud the musical to Al Pacino’s butt stunt double, but he eventually got his big break in the soap drama “The Days of Our Lives”. But it didn’t last, and poor Joey was unemployed all over again, and like Rachel had to try an unsuccessful stint at the coffeehouse.
But after much persistence, Joey returned to TV and if you followed the spin off show (we won’t mention too much about that) went on to lead a successful career. Then we have Phoebe who didn’t really specify a dream as she was happy as a masseuse, and had plenty of opportunities to make money from her music, but chose not to. I think Phoebe’s real dream was revealed during her wedding vows. And then we have Monica who had two very clear dreams; her career as a sous chef and starting a family of her own. It was a painful journey for Monica however, she lost her job in a fancy restaurant and had to work in a diner. But eventually she became a praised head chef in one of the most prestigious restaurants in New York.
Her second dream of having a family was harder and had plenty of heartbreaks with that too. It cost her relationship with Richard, she even considered conceiving a child on her own but in the end she realised she wanted a partner to share the moment with too. Eventually she found this with Chandler, but they sadly had difficulties in trying to conceive children of their own. But they didn’t let this stop their dream of having a family and eventually after many trials, they adopted their baby Bings. And finally we have Chandler, who struggled to figure out what his dream was and spent most of the series as a data processor (not even sure what it is).
But it was only in the last season that Chandler decided to chase after his dream, which ended up being in marketing. So while no one focuses on it too much, I think Friends displayed over the course of ten years, that it is possible to follow your dreams.
I’m Rachel Karen Green
Before you say it, I will beat you to it, in the looks and romance department I am nothing like Rachel Karen Green (but really, who is?) but in everything else, most certainly.
Rachel arrived on our screens as a runaway bride in her mid twenties, confused about everything and entering the real world for the first time. In many ways I definitely relate to the Rachel of the early seasons – the uncertainly of not knowing what to do with her life and just the general confusion of everything.
But also like Rachel, I have been very lucky. I didn’t have a difficult upbringing like Phoebe or Chandler, and I will hold my hands and say like Rachel, I have been spoilt, and I guess I am a bit of a daddy’s girl. Despite being 24, my dad still calls me a princess (my own fault, I truly believed I was one when I was six and my dad has never let go of the idea since) and Leonard Green still calls Rachel “Pumpkin” well into her thirties, but hey at least I don’t call my dad, “daddy”. But like Rachel I was naive about how things operate. When I left home for the first time I like Rachel, was thrust into independence quickly. But despite being overwhelmed, Rachel took it in her stride and bravely cuts up her credit cards, which for someone who has been entirely reliant on her father, is a big deal.
I like Rachel, because she stuck it out at Central Perk, and when she knew it wasn’t right for her anymore, she walked away and pursued her dream job in a difficult industry (fashion and journalism maybe different, but I believe both are difficult to get into). She doesn’t give up either, she studies courses at the weekend and works her butt off by doing extra hours (but this does have a severe affect on her relationship with Ross).I like to believe like Rachel, that I also give it my all when it comes to work, and I do hope like the Rachel of the later seasons, it will eventually pay off for me.
There are also little things I totally understand from Rachel’s perspective.
Rachel cries and shies from confrontation, which is something I am also guilty of (mind you I have never cried in work…yet). But I’ve also noticed this doesn’t happen as much as in the later seasons.
Also like poor Rachel, I am not great at sports and was always picked last on teams.
I am not great in the kitchen either, I once melted a boil in the bag rice packet into the bottom of a pot.
I also lived with a friend who I went to school with and like Rachel and Monica, we became closer because of it (not sure she would like me referring to her as Monica though). I might be a little sensitive, naive and perhaps get carried away sometimes (but I haven’t proposed to anyone I’ve just been dating for a few weeks either). Rachel is mostly known for her iconic hairstyle but for me, she proves that you don’t have to be tough to get far, and that anything is possible if you work hard, and most importantly don’t give up. While I can’t pick a favourite character when it comes to friends, Rachel for certain is a character close to my heart.
The interchangeable dynamic of all six
While time and distance may have brought some friends closer than others, I still think what makes this show so sweet, is the interchangeable dynamic of the gang. Yes Monica and Rachel are childhood friends, Ross and Mon are siblings and then there’s the relationships I’ve discussed in detail above.
But even though some friends are arguably closer than others, what I enjoyed about the show is that each of the gang are close to each other in a unique way. While Chandler and Rachel weren’t best friends, there are episodes in which they’ve spent time together, the funniest being their shared love of a cheesecake.
Monica helped Joey with his “physical” setbacks when it came to a certain audition, I’ve already mentioned how Phoebe has helped each of her five friends in unique ways and there is Joey, who I think has sweet but different relationships with both Rachel and Ross. Joey like Phoebe is completely selfless. Yes Joey talks a good game but when it comes to down it, he will always there for his friends. When Ross was having problems with the ladies Joey was always his go to man. But the sweetest moment of their friendship was when he encouraged Rachel to move in with Ross, so Ross could spend more time with their baby to be (later backfired but besides the point). Then there was Rachel and Joey.
Yes they were perfect in theory, but when come push to shove, the sexual chemistry didn’t exactly come to the surface. But as friends, Rachel and Joey were perfect. Despite being completely opposite, Rachel and Joey became the closest of friends and even when Rachel rejected Joey, they still stayed friends. Joey always made sure that he stood by Rachel, and Rachel always did the same for him. Then of course the three girls and three guys formed individual gangs of their own, and brought hilarious moments as a result of it. My all time favourite girls moment is when Rachel, Monica and Phoebe all dress themselves in wedding dresses to cheer themselves up. I actually think that is my favourite episode and I think that’s mostly down to personal reasons too.
And for the guys it has to be when they decided to dress up as western characters and surround themselves in a built in cardboard fort.
But I think what makes this show so sweet, is that each of them are always there for each other no matter what. Because as the intro song wisely states and is always so true for each of the six; “I’ll be there for you, cause your there for me too” (sorry I couldn’t resist).
Finales are hard to get right, especially with long running television shows, and when creators end a fan favourite in probably the worst way possible, they’re not easily forgiven(especially thanks to the internet culture). And I won’t lie, I am guilty of this myself and I do have qualms with many finales of my favourite shows. Some I would’ve preferred if they had ended differently, and with others, that their finales didn’t exist at all (we shall not talk about the show which shall not be named). But Friends, Friends got it right.
It’s 20 years since the first episode of the series began and ten years since the heartbreaking and epic finale aired and yet, it’s a show that still continues to stay with many. They knew when to end it (not referring to any show in particular), and how it should end whilst staying true to everything that happened for the gang in the last ten years. Of course I get emotional every time I watch the finale, because Rachel got off the plane for Ross, Monica and Chandler are starting their family, Joey is sad about losing his best friend and tries to recreate old times by getting a chick and duck of his own, and finally, Phoebe and Mike talk about starting a family of their own.
The gang were moving on but the last few minutes in the apartment were perfect, because at one point each of them had lived there (even Ross when he wanted to make it as a tap dancer). So while the apartment is Monica’s by name, it really has been a constant home to them all.
Many talk of reunions (I will admit I was a part of this) and while rumours of a possible special episode come and go, I am probably in the minority when I agree with the creators that a reunion episode should probably not come into fruition. It’s not because of Jennifer Anniston’s massive film career, or the fact that I am now technically quite close to Ben’s age, it’s simply because there is nothing else to add to this story. Friends was about a group of twenty somethings trying to make their way in life, figuring themselves out, and what it’s all about in the process, and they did that.
Yah a reunion of the gang could add on to that, it would be popular, it would be funny but it won’t be the same. So them handing back the keys, walking down the hallway, and panning over the apartment in slow music was the perfect way to finish something that has meant so much to so many people for a long time, and for me, I wouldn’t have it any other way.