Friends debuted in the fall of 1994, nearly eighteen years ago. Eighteen years – that’s pretty hard to believe, isn’t it? It just can’t have been that long since Ross, Chandler, Joey, Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe entered our living rooms and our hearts.
I have been watching the show from the beginning on DVD. What a great innovation it was to put our television favorites on DVD so we could enjoy them years later. What is even better is when the re-watching is so much fun. Friends is still holding up well after all these years. I still laugh at the antics and I find myself anticipating the future episodes and storylines. One would think knowing what is going to happen would damper the enthusiasm of watching this show multiple times. That just isn’t the case for me. I find that I am eagerly waiting for the great things to come yet still reveling in each episode.
Seldom has television had the stars align so perfectly for a program. Everything worked. The cast was brilliant and had incredible chemistry right from the beginning. The writing was terrific and allowed each actor to grown into the unique quirkiness of their individual characters. The dialogue was never strained or forced. When things didn’t work, like Marcel the monkey (my least favorite storyline of the whole ten year run) in the first season, the writers quickly realized the error of their ways and fixed the situation. The powers that ran the show also did a great job with their big name stunt casting (a NBC staple in their heyday). Superstars like Julia Roberts, Tom Selleck, Brad Pitt, and Bruce Willis were among featured guest stars. This show even had a near perfect theme song in the Rembrandt’s “I’ll Be There for You.”
Of course, the cast all became stars with varied degrees of success outside of Friends. David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston, Coutrney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow are all still working. In hindsight, sometimes it is hard to believe David Schwimmer was the first star of the show. There is an old story that when their contract negotiations first came up, the powers were willing to pay Schwimmer more than his co-stars. Schwimmer, in a very unselfish and farsighted move, insisted his cast mates all be paid the same and they negotiated as a group. This probably gave us at least two more seasons than we may have enjoyed otherwise. This eventually gave the group of six the power in the end.
I am almost finished with the second season. It is about midway through this season that the show really hits its genius stride with incredibly creativity and hilarious plot lines and the rest is history. The show is funny, touching, and charming. The characters really become our friends and we as viewers come to care for these people in a way that shouldn’t be considered totally sane. I just don’t know if we will ever see a television program that will ever capture our collective hearts in quite the same way.
If you ever get the chance, revisit Friends. Time and distance (from the characters) have not tarnished this gem in any way. If you loved the show the first time around, these Friends will still be there for you.