The Friends Reunion episode was one of the most anticipated events of 2021. Fans of the show, new and old alike, came together to witness their favorite sextet sit down and reminisce about the ten years they spent working together on the globally popular sitcom. The fandom, ever buzzing with life, was rejuvenated again, and the reunion episode as well as the show was the talk of the town for weeks that followed. However, the fans of Friends obsessing over the show across social media platforms were also accompanied by critics of the show and people in general not particularly fond of the show. The population, like always, was largely divided into people who admired the greatness of the show and people who found the show to be overhyped. Which again begs the age old question: is the show Friends a stroke of brilliance, or is it just a mediocre but overrated piece of media?
Audiences usually have a variety of factors based on which they judge the watchability of a sitcom – the writing, the characters, the use (or lack thereof) of a laugh track, and the like. Similar is the case with Friends – the various elements that go into making the show what it is has created a clear distinction between its fans and its critics. I personally like the show, and despite having watched other sitcoms with different styles of humor that people might consider “better”, I still enjoy Friends episodes whenever I watch them. If I hear someone say, however, that they don’t find Friends funny or just don’t get what the hype is about even after having watched it, I understand where they are coming from – keeping in mind that people have different preferences, and that just because a show is a mass favorite does not mean it is up everyone’s alley.
So what exactly is it that makes this sitcom such a fan favorite – and what exactly is it that does not for others? Let’s break Friends down to its bare essentials.
Even after more than 27 years since the show first aired, it still remains as relatable as ever
Every character possesses traits that make viewers relate or sympathize with them. Among the six characters, Rachel is the spoiled crybaby, Monica is the goody-two-shoes with crippling compulsiveness, Phoebe is the eccentric hipster, Joey is the male bimbo, Ross is the intelligent hopeless romantic, and Chandler is your average sarcastic friend of the group. All of these characters resonate with yourself or someone you know in your life and that’s one of the reasons this show never gets old.
The show equally revolves around the lives of all six main characters
Unlike most sitcoms, it does not have a main character whom the rest of the show is centered around (e.g. Jake Peralta in Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Michael Scott in The Office), and does not lose itself in solely focusing on the life of one character and overshadowing the rest of the characters in the process. No – Friends is a show about six friends and the friendship between them, and the show makes sure to stick with this theme throughout all ten seasons.
The original cast of the show was intact right down to the last season
Unlike The Office for example, which let go of Steve Carell – who played Michael Scott, the central character – in the seventh season as a result of which the show lost its edge and had to wrap up after two additional seasons, all six of the main cast – Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Matt LeBland stuck with the show in its entirety, and no one from the side cast was dropped or replaced either. This maintained the originality of the show which helped keep it grounded with its fans.
The show features excellent supporting characters
Aside from the main six, characters like Gunther, Janice, Richard, Carol and Susan, Mike, Jack and Judy, Emily, Ursula, Estelle, Mona, and Charlie, are what make the show. Each side character has their own story, and even those who don’t make for great characters in furthering the plot of the main characters
Running gags in the show are what make it our favorite
Ross and Rachel’s “We were on a break!”, Joey’s flirty “How you doin’?”, Chandler’s over-pronunciation of the word “be”, Ross’s divorces, Rachel returning her presents, Monica’s compulsive cleanliness and organization, Chandler’s smoking, Phoebe’s bizzare songs and weird spiritual beliefs, Regina Phalange and Ken Adams, Gunther being in love with Rachel, Chandler’s leaning towards being gay, Ugly Naked Guy – these are only some of the many running gags that make the show what it is.
However, some people found some aspects of the show not as or at all enjoyable.
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