Like many others I know, I go through periods of time when I feel utterly at a loss as to the point of myself. This post isn’t about that, but about one of the coping mechanisms I’ve come to regard as a little bit of a saviour in recent times. I know it sounds silly, and believe me I’ve spent (and still spend) a great deal of time beating myself up with the usual, “what have you got to be so sad about?” inner monologue, but I’ve managed to build a routine of late that has made me laugh. Ridiculous though this might sound, it’s something I look forward to, and something that’s made me feel able to make plans again. Cast your minds back to the ten year period when Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer were the darlings of American and Channel 4 Friday night television. I don’t like to think how many times I must have listened to this theme tune by the poor old Rembrandts (I say “poor old” because, well, can you name another song by them?)
When Friends first aired back in 1994, I was living with a boyfriend who would roll his eyes and hurl endless insults at the TV about American sitcoms, so it was easier simply not to watch it. When we split up, one of the things I was pleased about was that I’d be able to watch this mega-popular show. It felt as though everyone else but me knew all about it: women at work had the Rachel haircut, “How you doin’?” was a done-to-death, funny chat up line, and “Could this BE any more annoying?” was a moment of light relief as we tried to get to grips with this newfangled email business…what was wrong with faxes, anyway? Ah, the ’90s.
Once E4 stopped showing what I remember as back-to-back airings of Friends back in 2011, I bought the Friends box-set. My kids have always watched it more than I have…until recently. I happened to catch a clip on a random TV programme that was discussing the show for some reason, and it made me smile. I wanted more. So, every day for a couple of weeks, I’ve been watching a few episodes of Friends and it’s made me happy. I started right back at the pilot episode with Rachel running into Central Perk in her wedding dress, wet through from the rain. I have marvelled at the character and plot development, celebrity cameos, cliffhangers, and general all round bloody brilliant work of Bright/Kaufmann/Crane Productions. I mean…the relationship between Ross and Rachel? I still cry when she announces, “I got off the plane.”
Of course, all good things have their flaws. It’s only now, twelve years after the show ended, that I’m painfully aware of the casual homophobia liberally sprinkled throughout Friends. In fact, it’s difficult to watch this montage, “The One With All The Gay Jokes” without wincing your way through it.
I’ve re-watched and loved the relationship between Rachel, Monica and Phoebe, and accepted that whilst I’d love to think I’d be Rachel or Monica, I am totally Phoebe: accepted, funny and loved, but always that little bit on the periphery.
The platonic relationships (even between Ross and Rachel after having been in a relationship with one another) between the men and women are pretty much friendship goals…I did find myself wondering, as an older, more cynical viewer, if their real life feelings about one another were at all different. Oh and I loved discovering that that Cox and Aniston are real life best friends!
I know I’m not alone in my fondness for the show. There are countless social media fan accounts, and GIFs galore for every emotion you could wish to express.
Indeed, some überfans made this trailer sparking a great deal of excitement (from gullible saps like me) that a Friends film was in the making. (It isn’t. Also, don’t read the comments. Seriously, why do people feel the need to comment on the fact that – shock horror – even famous and beautiful actors age, and the choices they make during that process?)
I can’t deny that I would love to see the Manhattan sextet reunite, though it seems rather unlikely. It’s probably for the best. Never go back, y’know? I shall console myself with going to see Matthew Perry’s self-penned The End of Longing at the Playhouse Theatre, London. I’ll continue to watch Jen’s perfect comic timing in Along Came Polly, We’re the Millers and the upcoming Mother’s Day. I love Courtney’s Cougar Town – she’s grown with me, y’know? (“I’d date guys my own age, but they’re all out dating younger girls!”) Lisa Kudrow’s honesty about moving on from Phoebe and the way she’s been able to use her insight into the world of celebrity in her writing and production is telling. Hell, I may even tune in to Top Gear now that Joey’s presenting it! As for David Schwimmer, well, I’ve been hooked on American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson, but, far more special to me, is this, possibly my favourite Friends scene – The One That Made Me start To Feel Better. Thank you Phoebe, Rachel and Ross.
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