5 things we miss about ‘Friends’ (and 5 things we don’t miss too much)
Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the final “Friends” episode airing (called, in “Friends” style, “The Last One”). Remember 2004? President Bush, no iPhones, and Facebook, called “The Facebook,” was only available at certain universities, and your mother couldn’t join. Few other shows reach the level of cultural dominance “Friends” achieved, but, like any show on the air for 10 years, it had its highs and its lows. Here, in no particular order, are five things the show could have skipped.
1. Ross owns a monkey
Remember when Ross (David Schwimmer) had a monkey? Why did Ross have a monkey? Look, we all enjoy a mealworms joke here and there, but really, having a pet monkey is just a little weird. The show itself even made fun of it in later years, having Ross remark, “Hey, remember when I had a monkey? Yeah, what was I thinking?” Indeed, Ross.
2. Rachel and Joey try to date
The show couldn’t resist pairing up its various Friends over the years (except for Phoebe. Sorry, Phoebe) and this late-in-the-run pairing came across a bit like the writers selected two of the single Friends at random and threw them together. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) briefly tried dating, only to quickly decide they were better as friends, which viewers could have told them earlier.
3. Ross and Rachel can’t make up their minds about each other
OK, simmer down. We’re not saying the show’s epic romance was an all around bad idea. Only that the constant back and forth between the duo got a little old. Imagine being friends with these two! Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) even makes fun of them when they work out their differences easily for once: “That’s it? ‘We were on a break.’ ‘No we weren’t.’ What happened to you two?”
4. The Friends hang out at Central Perk during the day
Fine, this one is nitpicky. But they all (usually) had jobs! Why were they sitting at a coffee shop all day every day? Go to work, guys. What is this, Europe?
5. Joey never has a serious relationship
To be fair, Joey was an unrepentant womanizer. But there were hints here and there that he wanted to date someone more seriously, and the show never set him up with someone he would be with long-term. We like to imagine he met up with Susan Sarandon’s fading soap star in L.A. and they made it work.
And because we really did love the show, here are five of the (many) reasons the show was such a huge hit.
1. Monica and Chandler
While Ross and Rachel were set up in the pilot episode as the show’s defining romance, the less dramatic but more comedic pairing of Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) turned out to be one of the best ideas the writers had. Finicky Monica and sarcastic Chandler hooked up at Ross’ wedding in London, then soon fell in love, providing plenty of comedic fodder as the rest of the Friends found out one by one. Tellingly, in “The One That Could Have Been,” where the Friends imagine how their lives could have been different, it’s Monica and Chandler who still end up together instead of Ross and Rachel.
2. Ten years of finding the comedy in the everyday, as sitcoms are supposed to do
PIVOT! PIVOT! Need we say more?
3. Setting Phoebe up with Paul Rudd
Phoebe was always the odd one out. She doesn’t live with anyone, she’s not related to anyone and, well, she’s a bit of a weirdo. But when Joey randomly sets her up with a stranger, the guy turns out to be the love of her life. And he’s Paul Rudd, which is an added bonus. We’re glad the show never followed through on Phoebe’s occasional comments about how cute Joey is.
4. Having the Friends go through all the things you’re supposed to
Sure, they may have spent the workday in a coffeeshop and they lived in palatial apartments, but the group also confronted realistic issues over the run of the show, from the death of family members to getting married to working at crappy jobs before finding your dream career. One early episode showed the three Friends with better jobs going out to an expensive concert (uh, Hootie and the Blowfish. It was the 90s!), while the other three stayed home and felt resentful about it. Well, maybe some of their experiences were a little different.
5. Making you think that you and your friends could be this funny
“Friends” was a hangout show, and it derived many of its highlights from the gang gathered together, having fun together. Classic episodes like “The One Where No One’s Ready” and “The One with the Embryos” are funny just because of the way the various characters bounce off of each other.
What do you think were the things “Friends” did best?