Recalling Old “Friends”

Back on May 27, you may know there was a “reunion” episode broadcast of the 1990s to early 2000s US sitcom Friends:

[From Instagram.]

The original series was a hit from the moment it premiered on NBC on Thursday evenings in September 1994. The comedy revolved primarily around six friends in their middle to later twenties living in New York City. In about the same age group as its stars, I watched it at that time… along with my own, uh, friends.

We had thought it was definitely above average television and worth watching. (Talk about “ancient” compared to current day viewing whenever we want streaming services, unless you then had a VCR – video cassette recorder – set to record it, in 1994 you had to watch it “live” during its weekly broadcast time slot or you simply missed it. I also recall it usually made me really laugh out loud at least once an episode.) Although it was clearly aimed at my then age group – lots that happened was familiar to us – and those a bit younger, even my parents also liked it. (They watched it often from the parents’ perspectives. LOL!) However, I had then also never imagined so many would still be going on about it some 17 years after it ended.

It is hard to overestimate the program’s impact and reach. I noticed back around 2012 or so just how “big” it was still when I saw my English niece – born in 1997 – watching it. (She had the entire series on DVD and she and her friends loved it.) So I thought when I was writing a certain first novel in 2013 that I HAD to include a little personal recollection of how WE had sometimes watched an, uh, “unnamed” TV program that seems, err, much like “it,” when it was first on back in that now increasingly long ago 1994:

[A 1994 excerpt from Passports, on Kindle. Photo by me, 2021.]

Don’t think we did not joke about this back then ourselves: Living as I did then in a New York City suburb, I recall my “friends” and I even then laughing about the absurd size of the characters’ Manhattan apartments and the fact that no one on their apparent salaries could have possibly afforded them. The only characters who seemed to have regular jobs and therefore would have made even decent enough money and MIGHT have were “Ross” (whose apartment we rarely saw) and “Chandler” and maybe “Monica” – and even then they would have probably needed gainfully employed roommates (and “Joey” was a perpetually workless actor, “Rachel,” uh, well, she worked – probably making maybe $5, including tips, an hour – in a coffee shop, and as for “Phoebe” who knew what her story was). LOL!

It is an odd feeling too now watching episodes and often noting the “old-fashioned” technology of the 1990s. The absence of commonplace mobile phones in particular – given mobiles are now ubiquitous in our lives – in the first years of the program especially is now almost jarring. (How did we live without phones on us all of the time? Believe it or not, we did manage it. LOL!) It is a lesson in a way on how quickly tech now changes and how dangerous and even “dated” it may be to put any current day technology front and center in film or television entertainment.

The program’s surprising longevity into the 2020s is obviously the reason for its “reunion” program, but I did not know until an Instagram follower messaged to tell me that the “reunion” is NOT an acted episode. It turns out it is instead an almost “Oprah-style” setting with the actors gathering around to recall the “good old days.” Producing an additional actual scripted episode was for some reason obviously ruled out:

[From Instagram.]

As an author now, I thought that was a letdown of sorts. I am far more interested in what would have happened to the characters some decade and a half after the last episode was shown. So while I have that “reunion” episode recorded in my Sky box, I am not sure I will actually watch it.

Regardless, the fact that so many are still so interested in that program that is now over twenty-five years old is fantastic.

Hope you are having a good (long) weekend (if you are in the UK or the US). 🙂

2 thoughts on “Recalling Old “Friends”

  1. Haven’t seen it yet myself, but I’m a huge Matthew Perry fan. He was my favorite character on Friends. I especially enjoyed his work on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. 😍 And I agree. I would have much prefer a “where are they now” episode. It was certainly a huge success for Sex and the City.

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    1. We saw Studio 60 and really enjoyed it. I am also a West Wing fan, so they were a great combination. I do think a proper episode of Friends “now” could have been huge. A shame it wasn’t to be.

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