I started watching Friends when I was six.
‘Yeah, right.’ I hear you saying, but it’s true. Watching Friends became a ritual in my house to the point where even now when I hear the intro music I get transported back to my parent’s lounge, my dad bringing us toast and hot chocolate.
I didn’t get any of the rude jokes, or the love parts, but I associated it with getting to stay up later than usual and being cosy in my house with my mum, dad, and nan (my brother had to go to bed. It was a big palava where I had to pretend to sleep, I won’t get into it now.)
I also knew, even at that young age, that Rachel was cool. I liked her fashion sense and when we played Friends in the playground, I always played her.
It’s 25 years old now (yes, I’m 29 but I didn’t start watching it right away when it came out). Now, it’s appealing to a whole new generation of people and I wanted to share my thoughts on it after I re-watched it recently.
Oh, and by the way, you can expect a lot of turning 30 content from me.
It’s weird to see Friends as such an institution in my life. It’s a TV show, after all, but the fact is that it had a huge impact on our generation.
I still don’t go a day without quoting it. Most of the time it’s without even thinking. Like, whenever anybody suggests we do something boring, my brother and I will – without fail – always look at each other and say things are about to get wild.
As a teenager, it was just an unwritten rule that everybody had seen it. I didn’t need to explain my jokes because, well, who hadn’t seen it?
I still can’t look at a form that says ‘Occupation’ on it without the temptation to write ‘Dinosaurs’.
But now, it’s when looking back on the relationships that I realise the opinion I had when I was 18 differs so wildly from the one I have now.
In school, we thought Rachel and Ross were #couplegoals. My friends used to say he’s your lobster to one another, speaking about a boy who was no more than a bit of washed-up seaweed if we’re going for sea analogies.
Rachel and Ross
We thought of them as the ultimate Friends couple. We thought this back and forth, non-committal, break up, on a break, make up relationship was just what you had to go through for true love.
Spoiler alert: it’s not.
Every time Ross got L-O-V-E love jealous of Rachel’s boyfriends, dates, career and colleagues we expected – no, needed – boys to show their affection towards us in that way.
You might say it’s just a TV show, and obviously I know it is. Do you think I’m like… duh? [hits head with a bat].
I hope you got that reference, it might be a slow burner.
But as a teenager, pop culture is where we get a large amount of our understanding of love from.
Aged 17, I was screaming at the screen ‘surely she got off the plane?’
Aged 29, I’m shaking my head and rolling my eyes: ‘Why did she get off the plane?’
It’s not that I don’t think Ross and Rachel should have ended up together (although I don’t really think they should have ended up together), it’s just that I don’t think she should have given up her career for him so readily.
Perhaps my opinion is indicative of the times we’re in or perhaps I just don’t think a healthy relationship should have to involve her giving so much up.
Here’s a couple of unpopular opinions for you to mull over. 1. Ross is still my favourite character. 2. I think he should have ended up with Mona. 3. I think Rachel could have had a very successful relationship with Gavin.
There, I said it.
Chandler and Monica
Aged 17 I did not get Monica and Chandler. I accepted them but I mean, come on, CHANDLER?
She had such an adult relationship with Richard and Chandler reminded me of the boys from school who carried around those little aliens in eggs that supposedly impregnated each other.
I think the majority of women (in happy relationships) end up with a Chandler. The ability to make somebody laugh is hugely underrated.
As a couple, I used to think of them as quite meh but now I am so appreciative of the little nuances that make real relationships work.
Like, Monica pushing Chandler to take an unpaid internship doing something he loved. Their acceptance of each other’s differences, their ability to make a long-distance relationship work.
‘I don’t think you and I were destined to end up together’ Monica said to Chandler in The One Where Joey Tells Rachel. ‘I think that we fell in love and work hard at our relationship. Some days we work really hard.’
Ross and Rachel taught us that love had to be these big sweeping gestures and ultimate sacrifices. Monica and Chandler taught us that it is physically and mentally impossible to maintain a relationship that’s always about the story.
Sometimes being in love means mundane and routine. If you can be as content in the triviality of everyday life as you are in the big attention-grabbing moments, then I’d say that’s love. IMO.
Growing up she was never my favourite character. I thought she was a bit weird. In fact, she and Ross were my two least favourites (Ross managed to climb the ranks).
Although she’s still my least favourite, at 29 I can appreciate her career path. She has always stayed true to not wanting to be part of a ‘corporate machine’ and I can resonate with that desire.
She also has good values; loves animals (MY RAT BABIES), is very generous and doesn’t mould her life to fit whoever she’s with.
I mean, she fully walked away from Mike because he didn’t want to get married. There are plenty of people who would have given that up to be with someone.
Joey is seen as the kind of dumb one and growing up that’s how I saw him. I didn’t see any of the other layers of his personality until I re-watched it this time.
The fact he can keep a secret, he cares about his friends a lot. He bought Chandler a friendship bracelet, he let him date Kathy, he changed his whole life to fit Rachel moving in with Emma and he gave up meat for Pheobe. I could go on.
He didn’t bat an eyelid about giving $2k to Chandler and then to Monica. Oh, it seems I am going on.
You get my gist. Everybody needs a friend like Joey. I think it’s so easy to assume that guys who date a lot of different women have that as the only facet of their personality (and I’m sure in some cases that’s true) but it’s not always true.
You could miss out on a good person by judging a book by its cover.
I thought I should somehow sum this up. With an entirely new generation basing their relationship ideals upon these characters, it’s quite refreshing to watch it again at a different stage of my life.
I wonder if I watch it again at 40 whether I’ll feel differently?
I suppose the moral of this article is that however much you hold on to people thinking they’re your lobster at 18, you probably won’t even remember the names of their parents 10 years down the line.