We all know how big a thing Friends was in the ’90s and the early 2000s. Being a show that explored the lives of six, unique individuals in their 20’s who were trying to find their way around the maze of adulthood, Friends was a show that was both very funny and relatable. By depicting the relationship and career struggles that people face in their day-to-day lives on the screen, Friends garnered a large audience and as it turns out, even though it’s not 2004 anymore, people are still equally as enamored with the heartfelt comedy of Friends as they once were. So what it is about this sitcom that still makes people keep going back to it even after 15 years of the airing of its last episode?
Friends is based on a set of characters who are as different from each other as night and day. There’s Chandler, the one with all the jokes, Ross, the affable nerd, Joey, the womanizer, Rachel, the fashion-forward girl next door, Phoebe, the carefree soul, and Monica, the control freak. This show’s portrayal of friendship among characters who came from different backgrounds, had dissimilar thought processes and held an assortment of jobs shattered the widely accepted belief that friendships were only forged through interactions between like-minded individuals.
In the series, the only character to have a direct connection to all the other characters was Monica, who was a sister to Ross, a high school friend to Rachel, a roommate to Phoebe and a neighbor to Chandler and Joey. She remained at the center of the show’s plot throughout the series, acting as the glue that held the group together. Monica was responsible, organized (to put it mildly) and compassionate. Most importantly, she loved her friends as if they were her family, feeding them and caring for them like her own.
Monica may have been the one who introduced these characters to each other, but that didn’t necessarily mean that they had to stay together and become friends. So why did they?
Both Chandler and Phoebe were written as characters who came from dysfunctional families. Their pasts shaped their characters – in Chandler’s case, it made him adopt sarcasm as a defensive tactic to avoid serious issues, where in contrast, it led Phoebe to grow into an independent woman with strong morals. Ross was portrayed as the intellectual, who, despite being wealthy and successful, had to dress as a groom all of three times to find true love. Joey, on the other hand, was painted as a good-looking actor trying very hard to make ends meet. Among all these characters, the only character to have undergone a substantial growth was Rachel, who transformed from a spoilt daddy’s girl to a self-earning, strong woman.
So maybe it was their differences that tied them together. Or maybe it was just that all of these characters were lost and trying to find their way in life. They were each stuck at certain points in their lives, some in search of suitable jobs, and others in look for perfect partners. At the end of the day, they were all in pursuit of better lives. None of them were perfect, but perhaps, it was their individual flaws that brought them together and helped each other grow.
You may know a world of people, but ultimately, it comes down to that handful of people whom you care for and who care for you in return. It’s about those people who inspire you and help you to reach your full potential. It’s about those people around whom you can be yourself. This is the spirit of Friends, the message it tries to convey to its audience indirectly – that maybe it doesn’t necessarily take a crowd of people to make you happy, maybe it just takes five.