Set in the 90s and early 00s of New York, Friends permeates deeply into popular culture, and for those (such as myself) who can recite every episode by heart, why not return to a favourite series as the perfect remedy for the self-isolation blues? I can still recall waking up on New Years’ Day of 2018 and reading Netflix’s announcement that all ten series of Friends were debuting on its streaming service. Could you be any more excited? And since 2020 has not proved the most promising start to the decade, with over 6 months until the start of Michaelmas Term, this period of self-isolation may actually be the perfect opportunity for everyone to take some time away for themselves, and alleviate the stresses of a rather unforgiving summative season.
The world of Friends is the perfect escape. Following Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Joey, Chandler, and Ross, there is a clear and uncomplicated reason why Friends has remained so unwaveringly popular 16 years after its emotional final episode aired on NBC. The central six characters are all so wonderfully relatable, likeable and hilarious in their own way – from Phoebe’s theory about lobsters, to the confusion over who ate Ross’ sandwich, it is remarkable that so much can be packed into such a stimulating 20-minute episode. No matter how many times I watch the same episode of Friends, the same laughter and affection for the characters remains.
But why is it that Friends has remained so popular? None of the six characters are perfect or are even alike, each with their own highly individual set flaws and strengths, injecting sensational humour into the coffee shop lifestyle and the cosy appeal of Central Perk. It’s the simplicity of Friends that is the key to its appeal – a simplicity combined with such well-developed characters, you feel as if you’re watching your own friends sipping coffee and existing in enviably huge apartments. Whilst we’re all advised to stay at home for the foreseeable future, why not invest in some goldfish bowl sized teacups and turn your living room into a homely New York café?
In the middle of February 2020, Friends fans were sent wild after the main cast posted on Instagram a picture, accompanied by the elusive caption ‘It’s happening…’ After being prodded for sixteen years to reunite, a one-off unscripted reunion show was recently confirmed by HBO Max. Although the outbreak of Covid-19, and its recent confirmation as a worldwide pandemic has undoubtedly delayed the production of this episode, it gives all you Friends newbies a chance to enjoy all 236 episodes of the hit TV show before the maestros of the screen reassemble.
For many, Friends will either be a recurring favourite, or something which always seems to be on when you check into a hotel, but it really is a wonderful comfort in times of uncertainty. It is always guaranteed to induce some chuckles, so grab your cup of coffee and know that, even when the rain starts to pour, Friends will be there for you.