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I am totally late to the Friends party, like 23 years late (or the entirety of my existence, as I like to look at it). But hey, I finally made it! And it’s not like I’ve never been scoffed at or eye-rolled before upon mentioning that I’ve never seen the show. Well…to be fair, I’ve seen bits and pieces here and there, since escaping Friends on modern television is practically impossible.

Though one of my past roommates, a hardcore fan girl, practically had a panic attack when I told her this news.

I quite vividly remember the last episode of the show, though I’m pretty sure that everyone on the entire planet watched that episode simply because it was the end of Friends, damn it! And I’ve always been familiar with the main characters and the general gist of the story, so it’s not like I’m completely clueless on the subject.

…escaping Friends on modern television is practically impossible.

But, once Netflix got ahold of all ten seasons of what seems to be regarded as the pinnacle of ’90s programming, I no longer had an excuse for not investigating further. Also, I was kind of over not understanding references and wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.

However, I’m one of those people who finds it painfully difficult to make it past the first few episodes of really any show (pilots are just usually so bad, you know?).

Therefore, it took me quite a few attempts to invest myself wholly in the experience that is watching the entirety of Friends, but oh, am I invested now. I may only be on the third season right now, but I’ve seen enough to drum up…

A few observations/opinions…

It’s mostly innuendo, but then again weren’t all ’90s sitcoms practically built on the technique?

Friends is way raunchier than I remember it being. Granted, I was much younger when I saw aforementioned bits and pieces, so I probably didn’t even pick up on it back then. It’s mostly innuendo, but then again weren’t all ’90s sitcoms practically built on the technique? My immature inner-self is very much pleased by this development.

In terms of the characters themselves, I’m thoroughly torn between loving them and absolutely despising them. Hear me out: I am definitely entertained by Ross, Rachel, and the rest of the gang, there’s no question there – and, I’ve had my fair share of teary-eyed moments over the course of the first few seasons (and I’m not one to cry easily, I’ll have you know).

But…at the same time, I can’t help but be bothered by minor flaws or annoying traits that each character presents or harbors. The characters on Friends are friends, but they aren’t very good ones. The frequent misogynistic comments are drenched in ’90s cheese, and sometimes it’s almost too good at smothering the real tone.

I can also see the influence of Friends on more recent shows, too many to list here, but particularly one of my favorite shows, How I Met Your Mother.

I can also see the influence of Friends on more recent shows, too many to list here, but particularly one of my favorite shows, How I Met Your Mother. The setting is an obvious parallel, but it’s interesting to compare the characters and story lines and see how the former laid the groundwork for the latter.

I think I kind of have it figured out: Phoebe is Barney (daddy issues), Ross is Ted (both annoying and obsessed with a girl), Rachel is Robin (hot girl), Joey is Marshall (goofballs, though Joey is perpetually single so far), Chandler is also Barney (specializes in inappropriate and self-deprecating humor), and Monica is Lilly (kind of neurotic but has good intentions).

We’ll see how those parallels pan out as the seasons go on…

Here’s to the next few months…

I realize I have a long way to go, seven-ish seasons to be exact, but so far I would say it’s at least approaching the expectations I built up in my mind over the years. I mean, can anything be as good as everyone says it is when the hype has been building for 23 years?

There’s no doubting that Friends has its issues, but I can see why it earned the reputation it has to this day.

I’d say “great” is an accurate word, but I’m reserving my final thoughts on its true “greatness” for the very end.

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