7 Reasons Why We’ll Always Love Friends

The 1990s saw the resurgence of television’s all-American representation of urban life. Situation comedies became popular to living room audiences, and Friends came as a defining addition to our media consumption. The series began in 1994, and has developed into one of the most internationally successful television sitcoms we will ever know. It has been translated into several languages, and has even been dubbed in Japanese and Dutch. This has enabled Friends to gain momentum in its exposure and resonate with the broad market. This is a remarkable transnational accomplishment, as the humour and characterisation of Friends has prospered in other cultural contexts, despite its close connection to American references and culture. We waved the show farewell in 2004, after a Friends-filled decade of laughs and Central Perk coffee. However, Friends continues to identify with audiences of all ages, for hundreds of reasons. Here are seven to get us started.

7. The Beginning Sequence: Audiences That Clap Together, Stay Together

The most catchy opening sequence, period.

So no one told you life was gonna be this way.. (clap, clap, clap, clap)

I’ll admit it. Friends fans recite the lyrics and clap the opening part of the song. The beginning sequence, in this way, bring viewers together – especially in public. (Hearing strangers clap to it in a waiting room enables you to instantly gain new friends). It is here that we are introduced to Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Rachel – casually splashing about in a fountain at the Warner Bros. Ranch. The title sequence was filmed at a frosty 4am in Burbank, California, and thankfully so, paved the way for a joyful decade of singalongs before each episode.

The theme tune I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts is a clear addition to the show’s charm. The song was actually recorded specifically for its use in Friends. After this, a Tennessee DJ looped it as a full length song and played it on air, prompting their record label to ask The Rembrandts to finish the song with lyrics for more verses. Isn’t this a wonderful fact?

6. Smelly Cat: Actually, Phoebe’s Whole Repertoire

“Monica, Monica, Have a Happy Hanukkah…”

It’s essential to have some quirky Phoebe in our lives to bring us back down to Earth, even if she seems permanently off with the fairies. Miss Buffay is the eccentric, street smart, guitar playing friend, the “better twin” to Ursula, and alternative ego to Regina Phalange. Phoebe is adored for her questionably truthful lyrics and elaborate dubious stories about her previous lives. With a kind heart and the best of intentions, Phoebe pours all of life’s truths into her songs, however appropriate or unveiling they may be. Topics covered in her songs have included, though aren’t restricted to: midgets, little black curly hairs, goats, papier-mâché, and how animals become meat for hamburgers. A repertoire with extensive worldly diversity, if you will.

Smelly Cat was a particular stand-out in the hit comedy, having been recorded and televised with wind machines and all. A proud Phoebe showed her Smelly Cat video clip to the gang, who watched in disbelief in The One Where Eddie Moves In (Season 2). It’s a shame that this ode to the poor cat didn’t actually feature Phoebe’s real singing voice. Phoebe didn’t seem phased; “Oh, I am sorry but I am incredibly talented.”

Other honourable musical mentions include The Cow In The Meadow (Goes Moo), My Sticky Shoe, Little Fetus and First Time I Met Chandler (I Thought He Was Gay). Commendable work, Pheebs. 

5. Janice: The Woman, The Legend

Oh. My. God.

She is one of the most cherished recurring characters that the show has delivered. Our nasally voiced, big-haired, obnoxious drama queen Janice – and we wouldn’t have her any other way. Janice was introduced to us as Chandler’s long term on-off girlfriend in the first season, and I must say, Maggie Wheeler was the absolute stellar choice to portray THE Janice Litman Goralnik, née Hosenstein. Nineteen episodes featuring Janice, for me, just isn’t enough.

Viewers can’t help but warm to Janice, as the garish woman herself is completely unaware of her irritatingly piercing voice and trademark cackle. She is a truly likeable and alarmingly popular Friends character, with a personality so cringeworthy that you just have to accept her as being oh-so-Janice. It’s as if she’s a caricature of Fran Drescher in The Nanny, and with the hair to match. The amusement of Janice in Friends most definitely comes from her encounters with the six friends, who never seem to consider truthfully telling her the way they feel about her. Despite her annoying tendencies, the gang always steer away from any methods of doing so that may hurt her feelings in the process.

I adore the fact that Chandler’s guilt in trying to forever break things off with her, keeps Janice’s larger-than-life persona in the show. Even when he shakes her off, Chandler’s losing luck in dating always seems to direct him back to the comfortable territory of his first “love”, Janice. The One With The Mix Tape (Season 6) gave audiences a particularly treasured Janice moment, though she wasn’t even physically on screen. It’s an episode where Chandler and Monica are dating, and he forgets his Valentine’s pact to Monica to make her gift. Panicking in true Chandler fashion, he presents her with a mix tape he finds in his cupboard. Monica swoons, and they slow dance together to his apparent romantic song choices. The moment peaks as Janice’s recorded rendition of My Funny Valentine emanates in all its nasal glory. Monica’s reaction? Oh. My. God.

4. Ross & Rachel: A Love Story

The One With The Videotape

The Ross and Rachel saga spans the entirety of the Friends ten seasons, easily ranking as the most complicated yet wonderful Will They Or Won’t They plots in sitcom history. Ross’ sights on Rachel since the ninth grade fed into their string of unsuccessful relationships over the seasons – with no amount of Barrys, Carols, Tags or Monas to deter their way back to one another.

Memories of our beloved Ross and Rachel duo are delightfully enjoyable and consistently heartfelt. The One Where Ross And Rachel.. You Know (Season 2) was Ross’ date with Rachel under the planetarium stars, over Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game and a juice box. Ross confirmed his chances of succeeding the bounds of the friend zone, as Rachel was seduced by the sweetest nerd on television. Then there was The One With The Morning After (Season 3) where Ross’ ill-timing introduced the recurring “We were on a break!” joke; hilariously resurfacing time and time again throughout the next seven seasons. The drunken escapades of Ross and Rachel lead to The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel (Season 6); Phoebe discovered Ross never actually annulled the Vegas marriage with Rachel. This had viewers cheering for the prospect of another chance for love between them. Though Ross is a big ol’ clumsy ball of good intentions, he comes out with lines like, “You complete me.. kitchen”, making me just want to face palm and squeeze him with love, simultaneously. 

It is Ross’ sensitive nature, geek qualities and inability to ever get over Rachel (“He’s her lobster!”) that is the perfect compliment for Rachel’s impulsive, often high maintenance and romantic qualities. It makes the entire saga of their dating woes, the birth of Emma, the potential hospital proposal and Rachel’s move to Paris all the more rewarding. The suspenseful build up to The Last One Pt 2 (Season 10) brought us the most heart pumping airport chase since Home Alone. This final Ross and Rachel moment in Friends created the perfect, delicate and crucial moment that adds to the series’ lasting success: she got off the plane. Cue our sobs of joy whilst we spoon our boyfriends or tubs of ice cream: we can rest assured that Emma can now finally be raised by her hilarious, wonderful and loved-up parents, together, forever. Damn it Ross and Rachel, why can’t our lives be that romantic?

3. Chandler: The Hilarious Underdog

The bromance of humour and charisma.

Friends will forever be the only opportunity for 238 episodes to satisfy your Chandler fix. Personally, I’m still looking for the real-life reincarnation of him.

Chandler Bing (“Actually, it’s MISS Chanandler Bong”) is the comedic genius of the group, who executes his jokes at inappropriate times to break awkward silences, on an average day. The bromance between him and Joey delivers outstanding comedic value, though it is equally important that Chandler’s humour is appreciated individually. He is always delivering dry one-liners and daily observations, often missed in the laughs of the last joke. He always adds a hint of mockery to every situation, being sure to joke about himself as much as others. Honourable mentions include the jokes in The One With All the Resolutions (Season 5), where Chandler has made a bet not to make fun of his friends. His opinions soon surface, especially as Ross is wearing leather pants and Phoebe is trying to steal a plane. Ah well, it was worth his $50 loss.

It is, no doubt, Chandler’s mundane position in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration that allows him to be all kinds of funny outside his grey cubicle confines. This contrast is particularly funny throughout the ten seasons. Team Bing, any day.

2. Valued (& Believable) Characters

Did we all just become best friends?

The likeability of the six young Manhattan friends has allowed the show to transcend its original nineties-to-early-noughties audience. The fact that they seem like real humans – not just TV humans – is a really important thing. Friends resonates with people through the human experiences of happiness, comfort, loneliness, rejection and success – the conditions that remind us of our losses and our gains. Similarly to a Shakespearean tragedy, Bright, Kauffman and Crane have created a text that presents human issues to ourselves; such issues that remain unchanged over time. Friends’ relevance comes from its representation of how we connect to others and ourselves, exploring the traits, relationships and values of young, modern, working Americans.

We see it in Monica’s passion and even obsessive compulsion towards the things she loves; Rachel’s spontaneity; Ross’ kind hearted attention to detail; Chandler’s sarcastic-though-supportive advice; Phoebe’s obscurity and confidence in her principles; and Joey’s slow-witted though incredibly caring nature. Each Friends character interrelates seamlessly, whilst individually signifying the qualities that allows them to support their own. They really would all make a solid friend, giving them a credibility and integrity that gives kudos to such successful execution.

The show’s original pitch to NBC explained: “And it’s about friendship because when you’re single and in the city, your friends are your family.” As perfectly articulated, Friends illustrates how companionship is the remedy to stay afloat through the pressures of life. This is why the show’s fans will always have a Friends-shaped soft-spot, right in their chest.

1. The Determination of Red Ross

The joke that every viewer loves.

They were.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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66 Comments

  1. I Love how Friends had adult humour, i.e. Humour adults could relate to. It didn’t beat you over the head with “raunchy” and blatant sex jokes, but joked about things that happened to 6 single adults back in the 90’s. Great stuff!

  2. I like shows like Seinfeld and Everybody loves raymond, and I tried watching this. It was God awful. I couldnt get through the first episode.

    • Michelle Webb

      You really need to stick it out longer – the first ep was made in 1994! Especially now in 2014, you should really start anywhere around Season 6 or later, because the humour is much more current! Trust me, you’ll appreciate it more as a first timer.

  3. Audrey Martin
    0

    It’s difficult to point out a particular favorite episode of the show, since they were all so awesome! The one where Chandler get’s a complex because his co-worker thought he was gay is one that comes to mind, since i just saw it a few days ago 😛

    • MarceNorman
      0

      Best episode in my opinion was when Joey and Chandler challenged Rachel and Monica to game to see who knows the other best. Monica being Monica raised the stakes and ended up betting the apartment in exchange that the boys get rid of the rooster and the duck. It was a heated battle but in the end the boys emerged victorious when the girls couldn’t guess what Chandler’s job is. BEST EPISODE EVER… Imo

      • Michelle Webb

        That is one of my favourites! My absolute favourite though is the One With The Lottery Ticket, where Phoebe throws them all over the balcony, and with Emma’s ‘Gleeba’, and the talking pigeon haha! Such a classic. I know this series too well.

    • Michelle Webb

      Love that one! Thanks for your comment.

    • Michelle Webb

      Love that one! Thank you Audrey!

  4. Even the worst FRIENDS episode is better than the latest episodes of HIMYM. These shows OUGHT to be compared since they follow a similar pattern, and FRIENDS conquers everything today.

    • Michelle Webb

      Very true, even the jokes from the first ’94 eps of Friends are still resonant with today’s audiences, whereas HIMYM references often will be forgotten if watched in 10 years.

  5. Robert Humphrey

    This show started almost 20 years ago, yet the humor still holds up today, and it’s one of the most popular shows in syndication. That’s a testament to the writers and the actors. Not to mention, “Friends” gave us some of the most memorable television characters ever … characters that everyone can relate to in some way (I’m a Chandler). And, even though she was only in about 10% of the total number of episodes, Janice is one of the best and most memorable guest characters of a sitcom. I’ll never forget the scene when a pregnant Janice is wheeled into a pregnant Rachel’s hospital room. Janice’s reaction mixed with Rachel’s reaction mixed with the studio audience’s reaction is one of the most memorable scenes for me. … Notice how often I’ve used the word “memorable” to describe this show.

  6. Matt Elrick
    0

    Best show of all time. If it wasn’t for Friends, we wouldn’t have “How you doin’?” and there would never have been anything wrong with the left Philange!

  7. Nicholas Devin

    This was a very smartly written article with well constructed humour.
    Good job.

  8. LAMpert
    0

    Friends is probably my ‘favorite’ sit-com from the nineties(though, I think it ties with both Seinfeld and Frasier for ‘best’). I adore seasons 3-9. Seasons 1 and 10 were okay and Season 2 will always be subpar to me.

    • Michelle Webb

      I have to agree there, the beginning seasons are definitely the warm up to the brilliance to come. Seasons 5-7 are my favourite, and season 10 is wonderful though saddening at the thought of the laughs soon to be over!

  9. Kevin Licht

    One could probably argue this is the last great sitcom with a laugh track. Anybody believe a reunion show will actually happen?

    http://www.kpopstarz.com/articles/71513/20131231/friends-reunion-2014-hoax-rumors-spread-producers-waiting-jenifer-aniston.htm

    • Michelle Webb

      I feel like if they do, 2014 is the perfect year to do it, being a decade and all. There have been plenty of rumours circulating the internet routinely since it’s finished up, so here’s to hoping! Thanks Kevin.

  10. Jon Lisi

    I remember what it felt like to watch the series finale when it aired. I was never able to have that feeling of anticipation and dread again, partly because I realized that my love for film/TV was superfluous the older I became, but also because few shows were as enjoyable. I know TV has gotten better and I like that shows portray darker, more complicated characters, but there is something refreshing and appealing about Friends because it’s so comforting and harmless.

    An enjoyable read, this!

  11. Now I want to re-watch the whole series! I love this list, especially how you ended it…perfect!

  12. Siobhan Calafiore

    I’ve never watched the whole series, but even just watching random episodes out of synch over the years has been incredibly enjoyable. Each episode stands apart unlike in other series.

    • Michelle Webb

      It is definitely a series where you can watch a whole string of episodes here and there, out of order, and it still brings audiences an understanding of context without going over too much previous background. Also, the episodes strike the perfect balance between referencing the series’ ‘running jokes’, while still including new viewers that don’t have this previous knowledge. This could be a whole separate article on its own haha! Thanks Siobhan.

  13. I’m not proud to say that I’ve never watched the whole series start-to-finish, but the way you have managed to condense my thoughts and feelings of those I have seen into these seven points is a true feat. You could say you are my motivation to get watching. Well written and enjoyable to read!

    • Michelle Webb

      Thank you very much Ellen for your kind and positive feedback! There is always time to revisit Friends, as the characters and jokes are not significantly anchored to its time of creation – it resonates well in different contexts. You should definitely rent out the DVDs! Time well spent, really.

  14. antonio gomez
    0

    I’d see “Friends The Movie” being made. A comeback thing where they all meet together after all these years. Would be great

    • Michelle Webb

      That would be my ultimate dream haha! If only, Antonio. Imagine the ratings. I think it would be silly *not* to! Thanks for your comment.

    • Kimberly
      0

      Matt Leblanc recently summed up perfectly in an interview why doing a Friends movie is unnecessary and an overall bad idea:

      “That show was about a finite period of time, before you got married and went off to start your life with a family. It was that magical time that everyone can relate to. To see what we’re all doing now… I’d rather imagine that.”

  15. Michelle Webb

    I would just like to thank you for your positive comments and reception to my writing – it’s very encouraging! It goes to show how much-loved Friends really is, there are fans everywhere! Thanks again.

  16. Arlinka Larissa

    A friend of mine tells me that she hates Friends, and I was like “What are you?”

    Great article! I had a good time reading it, and I must say that your style of writing is very enjoyable 🙂

    • Michelle Webb

      Cheers Arlinka! I’m the same with non-Friends friends of mine.. I don’t even understand how one can dislike the show! Baffles me.

  17. Nicola Kahler

    Oh god I loved Friends so damn much, it doesn’t matter how many hundreds of times I’ve seen each episode, the characters always make me laugh (especially Chandler and Ross)!! Great article, you have a really nice writers voice 🙂

  18. setbrizi

    I loved this piece! I totally agree that there are hundreds of memories made in Friends that we all love and remember, I particularly enjoyed reading your top 7. I can especially relate to #3–Joey and Chandler–because at my first apartment, my best friend and I had nothing to get started. Literally all we had in our living room was 2 recliners, 1 small table and a TV. We actually lived like Joey and Chandler! We would watch TV in those recliners, go out get food and come back. Although we had very minimal apartment furniture, it didn’t matter! We had each other and the fresh memories being created as we channeled our Joey and Chandler lifestyle. The show, like reality, is about building friendships and creating memories that last a lifetime. This show will stand the test of tine because it will continue to bring people close together, just like how it brought me and my roommate closer together.

  19. Jacqueline Wallace

    Really enjoyable article! I would have to say that Ross & Chandler together were both underdogs though

  20. FANTASTIC ARTICLE. I am not the least bit ashamed to say i own all 10 seasons, and that I have seen each episode a countless number of times. No matter how often I watch Friends, I still laugh, cry, and smile in adoration. They made the characters so relatable that you see a bit of yourself in the characters and that is what makes a truely great show.

  21. Very true! I’m still happy when I take a long flight and see “Friends” on the list of TV shows available to watch. It’s like traveling with….friends.

  22. I think Friends will continue to be one of those classic shows but I wonder if kids who are ten now and when they get to be teenagers/young adults and even adults; if they will understand and respect the story of this t.v. show. I think our generation might be the last to understand, relate and respect a simple, honest and charming show like Friends. I love this show and always will and these are great examples of why that is.

  23. Rachel Elfassy Bitoun

    Friends is life. I can’t think of a more successful show than this one. A pure classic in TV comedy, wher characters are made loveable and where the audience is bound to identify with them. It really is intemporal – so is Chandler <3

  24. Frankie Victoria

    When I saw the 7 reasons, I thought at least 6 would be about each character >< I think that all the reasons you chose were really funny and sweet, but the show does have its really poignant moments. Monica and Chandler's relationship is one of my favorite things… Especially in "The One Where Everyone Finds Out" – the amount of misunderstanding and trickery that goes on in the episode is really entertaining and leads to a great conclusion.

  25. Remember those “everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten” posters? I want one that says “everything I need to know, I learned from Friends.”

    No, I love that the character growth was gradual and inconsistent. The circumstances felt so fictional (who has time to sit around at a coffee shop all the time, or sees their friends every day?), but the characters, or at least elements of them, felt very real. They were relatable.

  26. Absolutely loved your article…until you sided with Ross. They so totally were NOT on a break! In all seriousness, you hit the nail on the head with these points, your article made me laugh and I’m glad I clicked on it!

    • Michelle Webb

      Thanks! Very nice to hear people enjoyed the article, about my absolute favourite show to ever be! I have times where I’m totally Team Ross, then again, if I were Rachel I would have never spoken to him again. I bat for both Teams ha! Thanks again

  27. I absolutely love “Friends” and I could not agree more with your highlighted aspects of the show. Another important reason why I believe “we will always love ‘Friends'” is because it is so timeless. The characters rarely speak about technology; they didn’t own smart phones, they hardly sent emails, and they actually went to the bank (when Chandler gets stuck in a vestibule with a supermodel). And yet, we can always relate to the characters. Their relationships, the struggle to build a career, and the constant loyalty provided by each sixth, are the core aspects that we will always enjoy.

  28. Jillian Fields

    Great tribute to a great show. Thank you!

    • Michelle Webb

      It is my favourite show of all time (Breaking Bad is a close second, but for totally different reasons!). I’ve loved Friends since I was little… and I’m now 21 and still watching the eps, and laughing. That really says something!

  29. Great show, there will never be one like it again!

  30. Alea Freeman
    0

    I completely agree with your article. Friends is definitely one of those classic tv shows that will always be relevant. I think one of the reasons it remains so current is because the characters are so real and honest. The realistic traits of the characters (especially Rachel!) makes the show enjoyable.

  31. allyc023

    This show is almost 20 years old and today it still grows with popularity. DVD series. Reruns on Nick at Night and TBS. And as a die hard F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan I can’t help but love it and everything this show is about. The characters are real and show how people who are so different can also be so similar. It’s a sense of hope that the Chandlers in the world will end up with a Monica. That the Joey’s and Rachel’s in the world will catch their big breaks. That the Phoebe’s and Ross’s in the world can love whatever they want and still be loved by others. This show is timeless. Each generation has people who can related to each character and the story lines are relevant to those of its viewers. It’s a show that stands by it’s theme song; It will “be there for you!”

  32. The last reason is all that matters, really.
    But jokes aside, Friends will always be a classic -its episodes are so funny you can watch them repeatedly and always laugh, and the characters are so well developed.

  33. Not to mention the never-ending quote-ability of this show. There are so many jokes and songs and one-liners that I hear quoted throughout a single day in my life!

  34. Brianna

    Friends is forever my favorite show, even though I am huge HIMYM fan! This article is fabulous. Good Work!

  35. Personally, Friends is and always be one of my favorite shows on TV, because watching this show it has the capability to share their own experiences and portray each character realistically with joy, laughter, friendship,relationships between each character, which made the people to have fun, and representing one of the best show in the world.

  36. Friends has got to be my all time favourite show, and I’m sure it is for many over people. The writing is just so smooth and consistently great. Plus the best cast 🙂

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