Happy 20th anniversary Friends!
Yes, everyone, you are officially allowed to feel ridiculously, insanely old as you realise – rather quickly unfortunately thanks to the totally unambiguous declarative sentence that opens this anniversary tribute – that the first episode of Friends, a seminal sitcom that defined what life was life was like for twenty-somethings in the 1990s (well the ones in New York City anyway) went to air at 8.30pm on September 1994 and was reviewed favourably by a number of outlets including The Hollywood Reporter:
“There’s a sustaining humor at work on the new NBC entry Friends.
This ensemble comedy about a pack of young adults holed up in Manhattan starts in a capable manner, evidencing a solid understanding of the forces at work within the series’ architecture. True, there is some forced shtick, but nonetheless, Friends makes the lives of its protagonists humorously involving …
While Friends sometimes does appear more like a clumsy parody of MTV’s The Real World than as a knowing effort to comically report on the real world, by and large the series puts its band of actors into engaging predicaments, resulting in good laughs.”
It set in train a comedy phenomenon, one that included an obsession with Rachel’s distinctive hairstyle, a thousand memorable catchphrases, the defining of what exactly constitutes a relationship “break”, a hygienically-challenged feline, but one most of all that made us care, really care, about six close though totally different friends; care so much in fact that the show is still ubiquitous even 20 years later.
It was one of those rare shows that I watched week in, week out for the entire 10 year run, laughing more than I have with many other sitcoms (save for Frasier and Mad About You) and during which I felt like I was, corny as it is to say, hanging out with friends.
That’s how well the producers, writers and actors brought these characters to life – you felt like they were close buddies you were hanging out with rather than watching, and you rarely got sick of them, a rare feat for any show, especially one that ran as long as Friends did.
In honour of those 20 years, there have been countless “Twenty best episode lists” including one on The Sydney Morning Herald which included one of my favourites, “The One With All the Cheesecakes” …
In honour of the show’s 20th anniversary, Warner Bros put together a 236 second video that honours all 236 episodes of the decade-long series, giving each member of the cast – Ross (David Schwimmer), Monica (Courteney Cox), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) – their moment in the sun as US Weekly reports:
“Jennifer Aniston opens the visuals as Rachel Green in her wedding dress from the show’s pilot, later marrying Ross Geller in Las Vegas and experiencing personal triumphs such as finishing a crossword puzzle. Courteney Cox, who tweeted on Monday, ‘Friends premiered 20 years ago today. How time does fly’, is shown as her character Monica Geller, acting out her famous ‘seven’ scene and dancing with a turkey on her head. Ross (David Schwimmer) is seen rocking out on his keyboards, reinforcing his break from Rachel, and getting way too artificially tan.
Matthew Perry has a segment as Chandler Bing, repeatedly asking if things could ‘BE’ any worse, and working at his mysterious job. Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), complete with ‘How you doin?’ phrases, faces off with his buddy, trying on everything in Chandler’s wardrobe and saying, ‘Look at me, I’m Chandler! Could I BE wearing any more clothes? Maybe if I wasn’t going commando!’ The group is topped off by Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), singing ‘Smelly Cat’ and attempting to seduce Chandler. Even Janice (Maggie Wheeler) makes an appearance to utter ‘Oh. My. God.'”
But perhaps my favourite tribute simply because it chooses to both honour Friends and have a huge amount of fun with them is Comedy Central UK‘s series of “Badly Dubbed” videos which gives the very American set of friends very British accent and thus, all sorts of fresh hilarity-inducing potential, which they admirably realise.
You can check out more Comedy Central UK’s fabulous dubbed tributes to Friends on their 29th anniversary at their YouTube channel.