Why I Don’t Recommend ‘Friends’ Anymore

Why this 90’s cult classic sitcom should die with our generation.

Image from the BBC

I grew up with Friends, it was one of the first television shows that I watched which contained adult content, or at least that wasn’t on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon.

I was aware that I was too young to get all the jokes or relate to any of the problems or storylines, but everyone at school referenced it and I felt left out.

When I was nine, I would come home, stick on the channel E4 and a common loop of Friends would play, carrying on from what I had watched the previous day, only to repeat all evening.

I would watch two episodes, and then I would do my homework.

At the weekend, Friends marathons frequently played, revolving around a particular theme that ran through the show; Christmas, birthdays and so on.

I jumped in right about season three, only taking a few episodes to warm up to the characters, and catch up on the storyline and their intricate links. Picture Ross and Rachel fighting over being on a break, ‘Smelly Cat’ almost becoming a hit, and a Ben Stiller cameo as Rachel’s angry date.

I believed that only opposites attracted and I would have to somehow seek out people that would contradict me.

With a constant loop of re-runs, I had watched the whole ten seasons in less than a year, but that didn’t quench my newly formed addiction. I continued with a daily dose well into my late teens.

I would throw my head back in laughter at the silliness of Joey and Chandler’s childlike repertoire and at Monica’s so-called OCD. I would giggle quietly at the jokes I didn’t understand, like Monica giving Chandler sex tips with a diagram or Ross’s Princess Leia fantasy, but the roars of the audience indicated the appropriate times to react.

Image from We Heart It.

From Friends, I learned how to be just friends with the opposite sex and how not to be, how to be funny and quick-witted, how to be independent and how to retain friendships.

But it also taught me things that aren’t necessarily true or realistic. As a teenager, I had built a completely false ideal of adulthood in my head. I thought careers were fallen into, even if you were down on your luck, and that you could afford (to own!) an amazing Manhattan apartment by your mid-to-late 20’s regardless of your salary. I believed that a core friendship of six friends would be close in proximity and emotionality forever, despite the bumps in the road that intervene in life.

It told me that humor was the most important character trait, and your friends will always be there, and that when you got older, everybody’s sole focus would be their friendship group. But worst of all, I trusted that no matter how hard life got, it would still be amusing and enjoyable.

I thought that friendship groups consisted of wildly different people so that everyone had their own special place. The clean one, the nerdy one, the fashionable one, the dumb one, the sarcastic one and the weird one. I believed that only opposites attracted and I would have to somehow seek out people that would contradict me.

It spent so much time focusing on the aesthetic of friendship, that it didn’t explain the work and compatibility that is necessary for true friendship to blossom.

It was impossible to compare them to my current friendships because we still lived with and depended on our parents, but I was sure that I wouldn’t settle for anything less than the level of friendship displayed in Friends.

I thought I would spend my days in quirky coffee shops, my nights running up the phone bill, my free time getting up to mischief. I predicted key-swapping and unannounced visits. I anticipated long conversations of every detail of my life, only to be reciprocated by them.


Fifteen years on, I’m still a diehard Friends fan. If I’m in a place that is blessed with satellite television, I tune in, knowing it’s a comforting watch.

After it came to Netflix two years ago, I watched it chronologically, day and night, as though I was binging a new series I had just discovered.

When I was cleaning or cooking, hungover or tired, it was my companion, and it still is. It’s my ultimate go-to relaxing television show, that’s perkily hilarious and predictable.

At a time of great consequence, upon the formation of self-identity, perhaps it is easy to cling to a trope that you recognize and identify with.

Monica and Rachel’s quickly salvaged relationship, Ross and Chandlers committed friendship since college, Monica and Ross’s sibling love, Ross and Rachels long-time unspoken love, Monica and Chandlers budding love, Phoebe and Joeys’ outsider-esk quirky comradery.

It creates a false representation of a friend group, one that is unobtainable. It paints a perfect image of the ’90s and early ’00s, one without social media, internet or the pressure of appearance.

Image from All The Tropes

No one cared, and everyone was happy. People were connected by mutual interest, not by phones. If there was a problem, it could wait until later. If there was a falling out, it would be forgiven immediately. It spent so much time focusing on the aesthetic of friendship, that it didn’t explain the work and compatibility that is necessary for true friendship to blossom.


I’m a total Monica. I’m obsessive, and I can’t leave things be. I love to cook and be praised for that cooking, and I clean to relax. I do everything in a specified way, and if someone does that wrong, I must re-do it. I am the ultimate hostess and I can get a little stress-y and strung out from time to time. I sometimes have a short fuse, but I can be adorable and witty throughout.

But sometimes I wonder, would I be a Monica, if it wasn’t for Monica? If I hadn’t been engrossed with the show, throughout my pre-teens and thereafter, an extremely impressionable time, would I have defined myself by those traits?

Image from Quora

At a time of great consequence, upon the formation of self-identity, perhaps it is easy to cling to a trope that you recognize and identify with.

Most true fans of the show have a character that they strongly relate to, and there are thousands of Buzzfeed quizzes out there to tell you who you are.

That’s when the true naivety rears its ugly head. A childhood version of the world, that we still hope will occur. A winning combination, that continuously leaves us doubting and comparing real-life friendships.

It’s the distant fans that are the true winners. Those that tuned in occasionally, or perhaps didn’t engage until an older age. They are the ones who withdrew the true greatness from Friends.

They see it for what it is, a classic 90’s sitcom, miles away from our real lives now, just a comic, another unrealistic representation of life in New York twenty years ago.

The problem lies with those who say things like; “you are such a Ross!” or, “this is exactly like that episode of Friends when…” or, “Let’s befriend our neighbors, so it’ll be like in Friends!”. That’s when the true naivety rears its ugly head. A childhood version of the world, that we still hope will occur. A winning combination, that continuously leaves us doubting and comparing real-life friendships.

Perhaps then, there should be an age restriction on the show or else a lifeline restriction; Do not watch until older than twenty, or until completely happy and fulfilled with own life and relationships. Because otherwise, it will be a lifelong battle between reality and comparison, of what is and what you think should be.

We are changing the focus of television and film storylines toward reality, away from aesthetic and glossed over lives, to concern honest representations and real-life problems. We don’t want those that come after us to fall for Disney princess storylines, ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ plots or heteronormative culture. So why should we let them endure a show about unobtainable friendship, lives, and niche or trope characters?

Or maybe, by the time the next generation comes around, the show will have no place or meaning, no context. I hope, for them, it will only be a fantasy.

Approaching the age that the characters are upon the inauguration of Friends has been an uphill battle for me. Why don’t I pass my spare time in a café and have an amazing two-bedroom apartment? Why amn’t I constantly surrounded by my friends, who all love each other equally? Why do I work more than them?

Because it’s just another mindless sitcom, and I’m lucky my life has much more depth and reality to it.

Image from The Telegraph

1 Comment

  1. Really enjoyed the read. I do thi I friends was not ained at a 9 year old!! And was just a sitcom. Adults know that life is not like this but a nice break from the drudge of day to day living!!

    Liked by 1 person

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