Friends: Why The Hell Did I Like That Show?


I'll admit it...I watched Friends during the height of its popularity. In fact, I remember posting an away message on AIM when I was in college saying something like "Don't bug me! I'm watching Friends!" every Thursday during the season when there was that weird situation going on between Joey, Rachel, and Ross (didn't Joey and Rachel like each other, but Rachel had the baby with Ross...Or something like that? I can't quite remember...I was drunk a lot in college).

Anyway, the other day, I was channel surfing, and I came across the Friends reruns...So I decided to watch for a while. And after about 5 minutes, I found myself asking "Why the hell did I like this show? It's freaking terrible!" It was like watching Dane Cook do stand-up - nothing was funny, and everything seemed rehearsed. First of all, almost every single joke seemed completely forced and predictable. For example, if somebody asked "Is there any sausage left for breakfast?" you just knew Chandler was going to say something like "I have some sausage you could have for breakfast! Heyyy-ooo!" Secondly, everyone in the show seems to overact to the point where it's rather grating. Take Ross...I know he's supposed to be the uptight anal guy, but it's taken way too far. He'll be running late for work, and for 5 minutes, he'll run around that coffee shop they're always sitting in yelling "Oh no! I'm late for work! I'm going to miss my meeting! Oh no! I'm totally freaking out about being late for work! Oh noooooooooo!" Good grief! We know you're late for work! Just shut the fuck up and go to work! And don't get me started on Phoebe and her damn songs about smelly cats and bluebirds...About half way through the episode, I had to change the channel to prevent myself from shoving a pencil in my eye.

So after I changed the channel, I began to wonder...Why did I like this show a few years ago, yet now, I completely hate it? Here's what I came up with: I don't think it holds up well because I don't know if there's a lot of "clever" comedy in the show...Like I said earlier, each episode was half an hour of exaggerated reactions and forced one-liners. It's not like Frasier - a show I still find to be very funny - which had a more sarcastic and witty tone to it, and didn't always rely on physical jokes or cheap laughs. Did the characters in Frasier ever exaggerate a situation to get a few laughs? Sure...But a lot of the jokes were more subtle and cerebral. So that leads to the question...Why did I watch Friends if I didn't find it funny? I think some of the show's popularity came from the fact that it was "cool" to like Friends. It was a show about 6 hip people who lived in hip loft apartments and wore hip clothes...Obviously, you were hip if you watched it, right? Also, the show was shoved in your face wherever you went...Friends board games, Friends coffee mugs, Friends t-shirts...There was even a damn Friends cook book. It wasn't just a show...It was a trend...And it became such a big part of our culture, that you felt "out of the loop" if you weren't watching. It sucked a lot of people in - including myself.

I'm not saying that Friends is a total piece of junk. At the end of the day, it's harmless fluff that you can watch when you don't feel like thinking. But I am saying that perhaps it wasn't as great as a lot of people perceived it to be...We simply bought into the hype...

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