by Andrea Estrella
Staff Sitcom Enthusiast
In an age where Netflix allows us to take on binge-watching as a part-time job, it can be easy to get caught up in shows that, quite frankly, are not worth the life-consuming amount of time they require. We’ve all been there: two seasons and about 20 hours into a new show you’ve been binge-watching, you’re suddenly hit with the realization that it isn’t so great after all, and between the gaping plot holes or ridiculous character changes (2015 telenovela Celia, I’m looking at you), you’re so disgusted that you physically cannot watch another episode. It’s perhaps the greatest let-down of the modern day, to discover that you’ve devoted so much time and emotional investment into a show that you ultimately found to be disappointing. I’m here to offer solace on the issue. If you need a safe bet for a show on Netflix that will do anything but disappoint, your next watch (or perhaps re-watch) should be the 1994 sitcom, Friends.
One of the most-watched shows of its time, Friends is such a staple of American culture that references are still made to it today, over two decades later. Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey symbolize what many consider to be the ideal life of twenty somethings living in New York City. The show revolves around their victories and downfalls, showing the lessons they learn as they navigate jobs, relationships, and above all, their friendships with each other. While naysayers criticize the show for portraying the characters as having unrealistic lifestyles in relation to their supposedly modest earnings, I would argue that the essence of Friends lays not in the luxury of their clothing or apartments, but in the dialogue and interactions with one another.
For starters, Friends is a funny show. And not just funny in comparison with most of the trash shows/movies that people are watching these days. It’s funny in a laugh-out-loud no matter how old you are kind of way. Between Chandler’s witty sarcasm and Joey’s innocent blunders, the show is humorous in a light-hearted but intelligent sense. Perhaps its humor lays in the universality of its themes: everyone experiences problems with their job, friendships and relationships. Instead of dwelling on this fact, the show portrays a group of friends who, using each other as a support system, make light of it.
Also, speaking on its universal appeal, Friends is a show that transcends generational boundaries. I can set out to watch an episode alone in my house, and end up with both of my parents sitting on the couch beside me, laughing at the jokes made or waiting to watch (often, again) what happens next. This is something that simply can’t be said of other shows like, for example, Orange is the New Black, which arguably appeal more exclusively to a younger audience.
There’s a reason “Rachel Green Outfits” is a popular search result on Pinterest, and its because Friends acts as an incredible collection of 90’s fashion. Rachel and Monica were definitely 90’s style icons and the boys’ wardrobes weren’t too shabby either. I’d be lying if I said a few episodes didn’t inspire me to wear some plaid pants or denim overalls. But hey, if Rachel can pull them off, so can you and I.
Beyond its undeniable comedy, universal appeal and impeccable fashion sense, Friends offered its viewers valuable lessons on life that are still relevant today. As far as shows go, it is recognized as a classic and admired on a level that most shows never will be. Now, as for why you should stop what you’re doing right now to binge-watch Friends: could it be any clearer?