Thoughts on Friends (1994 TV Show)

23 Apr 2016 00:00

The show everyone has apparently seen but no one talks about.

That’s how I feel about the show. Everyone I talked to about the show says they’ve seen it, but I never heard them talk about it until now. If I otherwise talk to these people about TV shows they’ll mention Sopranos, That 70s Show, Seinfeld, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sunset Beach, bla bla bla, but not once have anyone mentioned Friends. It’s like they don’t wanna admit having seen it.

Anyway. I watched it. I watched all of it in just over a week, 16 hours/day, just addicted to the show. You can see how I pulled that off in the picture below:

im a nerd

Click here for full size

Anyway, why did I like that show? I’m not quite sure. I think I know but it might spoil the show for you. On the other hand, I feel like if you are reading this you have probably seen the show already and you liked it enough to read about it.

I think one reason is the braindead-ness, the show isn’t super intense on the cliffhangers or sudden changes, just like any other of my favourite sitcoms, so you can watch multiple episodes of it in a row without getting tired. Contrast to a drama show such as Breaking Bad or Sopranos where your brain runs out of energy to process what just happened.

In contrast to many other shows, The Pilot and Season 1 aren’t bad. In most shows you’ve watched and go back to watch Season 1, you just cringe and just think how weird and bad it is. But for Friends I’d say The Pilot and the rest of Season 1 are great. They are very different from other seasons but for being season 1 it’s pretty damn good. Definitively better than Seinfeld Season 1.

The opening theme song is a bit uncomfortable at first, but you get used to it and I actually ended up liking it. It's very suiting and kind of happy. Not something I'd have in a playlist though. Good TV theme, but not much else.

Last warning about spoilers

Another is the story. While I am generally against drama scenes, I hate seeing people argue, especially in a comedy, there are some justified drama scenes in Friends. There are also some beautiful scenes that make you happy and warm.

Of course what I am dancing around here is the relationship between Rachel and Ross. I think this was what I had to get a resolution on. I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Seeing them together was lovely, seeing them disband was awfully sad, and then them trying to be great friends (hue hue) with each other across most of the show created this damn feeling of will-they-wont-they which kept me hooked. Judging from what research I’ve done on the show this was the reason a lot of other people liked the show. Of course now that I know the ending I know what happens so I won’t have to worry about that anymore when I re-watch the show, but I’m guessing I’m still gonna get teary eyes during some moments, unless I skip those episodes, we’ll see what I feel like.

And thirdly, I really liked the characters. I didn’t really mind any of the characters. Sure, during some seasons or episodes I really hated one or two characters. I started kind of, but not really, disliking Chandler after he and Monica got married. He just seemed to become dumber and dumber. I disliked Ross’s dumb shit with jealousy, flubbing at the altar, and his other relationships with anyone that isn’t Rachel. I really, really disliked seeing Joey and Rachel together during Season 9/10 (it’s not as bad as it sounds though, it’s like 3 episodes). This is a very common opinion though and pretty much everyone hated it, even the actors. It was just a desperate move from the writers. I really fucking hated Janice. She was never funny, and they overused her, especially towards the end you could predict when she would appear. The actress is fine, she has been in Seinfeld, but her character was just a dumb meme.

Not As Much Spoilers Now

But I generally liked the characters more than I hated them! I loved Chandler and Joey together. Rachel is cute and tries to do her best. Phoebe is weird and definitively my favourite, she always kept it real. Monica is a bit ridiculous at times but at the same time also pretty sane, and Ross absolutely did some terribly dumb shit but somehow I managed to forgive him anyway. Joey is actually one of my favourite characters but towards the end he basically turned into Kramer. Kramer was also fun the first couple of seasons of Seinfeld but towards the end you get tired of him.

Another thing I liked about the show was it’s freshness. Sure it might’ve been because I haven’t seen it before, but the show doesn’t look that dated. You might think it’s a modern show until you see the clothes, hairstyles, TVs and telephones. I watched the Netflix and Blu-ray versions of it which are upscaled from original 35mm negatives and are in 16:9 so it didn’t look old either. Contrast to Seinfeld which just looks old for some reason, even the 16:9 versions of it. I think it’s because Seinfeld is kind of dark toned (think GTA 3), while Friends is bright and colourful (think GTA Vice City).

One thing I don’t understand about the show though, and it kind of perplexes me, is that I didn’t find it that funny. Very few jokes I laughed at and I never almost died from laughing like I’ve done watching Seinfeld or That 70s Show. The gag reels/bloopers are more funny! But it’s still funny enough. I’m not really sure how to explain it. It’s funny enough that I’m entertained, but not so funny I can just think about a scene and laugh in my head.

The Last One (potentially spoilers but not too bad)

So at the end of the day, I really liked the show and I was very happy and sometimes sad. I really hated the drama, crying scenes and they made me sad, but looking back at it, I think they needed to be there to balance things out. They suit better in Friends because the show isn’t super funny all the time. In contrast, That 70s Show for example is a really funny show so when the drama strikes it’s just awkward and weird and cringe-y and you can’t watch it, it’s so out of place. In Friends they don’t feel that out of place. I don’t look forward to re-watching these scenes, but I don’t hate them being there, like I hate the ones that are in That 70s Show (In That 70s Show I just flat out skip those episodes, not sure I’ll do the same in Friends.) On the other hand seeing these drama scenes and then making your way to the final episode and seeing the ending makes it worth it.

I don’t really wanna grade the show because I haven’t re-watched it. Preliminary I wanna give it a 9/10 (Seinfeld being a 10/10). The likelyhood of me watching the show in, say, 20 years from now is much smaller than the likelyhood of me watching Seinfeld in 20 years. I could see myself raising it to a 10/10 though, there aren’t many shows I’ve been this addicted to.