People of the world, rejoice: Friends is on Netflix. If you have an account or are just using your best friend’s mom’s password, you should be watching it right now. In fact, I don’t even know why you’re still reading this, when you can be hanging out with your favorite ‘90s New York pals with the inexplicably large apartments disproportionate to their salaries.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for your entire life, the plot Friends is pretty self-evident. Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, Rachel, and Ross are six best friends living in NYC, supporting each other through the good times and the bad. Occasionally their trials and tribulations border on the absurd—like a variety of Thanksgiving shenanigans that will go down in history—but for the most part they must deal with ordinary struggles. Financial insecurity, breakups, commitment issues—each dilemma is given its due time and thought, and treated with warmth and humor.
Friends is a little before our time—it ended in 2004—but remains really relevant despite the fact that no one uses landlines or pagers anymore. For example, I can really relate the line in the theme song: “when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.” Man, the Rembrandts really knew what they were talking about.
The thing is, we’re either nearly twenty-somethings or we already are that age, and it’s a general rule that college students have no idea what their future will hold. Watching Friends now is different from catching reruns on TBS or renting the DVDs in high school. The “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE????” angst each of the characters in the show is beginning to haunt us as well, and we can understand their feelings and relate to the way they react to different scenarios. We’re still a little younger than the six friends who frequent Central Perk, and a couple decades behind, but we can understand what they’re going through. (The only thing we can’t really understand is how they have such huge apartments in Manhattan. I’m seriously never going to get over that.)
Friends isn’t just a sitcom, it’s a rite of passage. A really, really funny rite of passage. We see the characters grow up, fall in love, get divorced a few times. We see them cry and we feel the pain with them. We laugh at Ross’s monkey, Chandler’s jokes, and Phoebe’s persistent weirdness, but we recognize that the emotions that they are dealing with are ones that we will eventually have to face or are currently facing.
This is not to say that the friends should be models for living a perfect life; they screw up quite often in refreshingly realistic ways. But by watching the show, we can recognize that we are not alone in our pain. Furthermore, we have our own friends who are there to love and cherish us no matter the circumstances. If you watch Friends with a friend, you are guaranteed to remember something ridiculous that you have done with each other and laugh, or find the courage to talk about something that really matters. You’ll also probably laugh.
Friends manages to distract from the painful parts of life while reminding you that you are loved, all while making you laugh at the same time. It’s a very special show, with surprising depth as well as incredible humor, and it is already beginning to go down in TV history as a great and memorable series. If you’re looking for a good way to laugh and pass the time, Friends will be there for you.