25 years ago on 22 September the world witnessed the birth of one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time – Friends. Since then, we have followed the fast-paced lives of 6 adults in their mid-twenties as they struggled with relationships, careers, family, and emotional turmoil, discovering the true meaning of devoted friendship. However, its impact on pop culture cannot be overstated. Whether it be Ralph Lauren’s launch of the Rachel Green Collection or global movie theatre screenings, the success of the show warrants a deep dive into what makes Friends continue to be relatable to a modern audience.
There is no telling what will become a magical show. The balance between luck, perfect timing, and a faultless ensemble of actors is what distinguishes Friends from other long-running sitcoms. The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family are some of the most memorable sitcoms, yet all suffer from a similar downfall – that of exhausting the majority of plot options in the first few seasons. While Friends is not immune to this (particularly evident through the heavily debated relationship between Rachel and Joey), issues with sitcoms go way beyond their pace, but I do believe that the speed of a TV show is indisputably pivotal to its success.
However, this curse does not only apply to sitcoms, as recently witnessed by the disappointing finale to Game of Thrones. As we pivot to an entirely different genre, these blunders are not only confined to the pace of the last few seasons, or awful Starbucks cameos and sub-par writing, since the real anger from the fans came nonetheless from plot holes and undeveloped characters. The final season felt rushed, characters and plots were not given the dedication they deserved to be carved into an ending fitting for a show as enchanting and sensational as Game of Thrones. It is for this reason that I wonder how well the show will age. Friends cared about its characters and audience in a way that is uncommon for many shows.
Year in year out, Friends gains fans and the characters’ relatability remains timeless. The relationship between Chandler and Monica evolved so naturally and gently, that its credibility is never fully respected until you compare it to the other appalling coupling attempts made by TV shows. Take ill-matched couples like Haley and Andy from ‘Modern Family’, Dany and Jon from ‘Game of Thrones’, Jackson and April from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or even Barney and Robin from ‘How I Met Your Mother’ – all of whom risk the entire plausibility of the show. Questionable characterisation and regressive dynamics appear to be an infectious disease when TV shows mature. Monica and Chandler were not born out of a manic fandom, making the timing all the more faultless. While Joey and Rachel’s relationship is often seen as the epitome of incompatibility, my opinion could not be further from the common public’s. Looking back on it, I believe there is ample evidence to suggest their relationship was a smooth and natural progression for both characters. I am by no means implying that Friends is an exemplary show since Joey’s character possesses huge scope for further growth and the sincerity of Ross and Rachel’s relationship is something I questioned.
Despite some oversights, Friends is a remarkable, irreplaceable, and timeless show that possesses the ability to transcend global barriers. It has mountains of outfit inspiration and has always made me incredibly excited for my 20s. Happy Birthday, Friends!