If you read the title of this post and thought of sushi… good for you, but we’re probably not going to be the best of friends. If you read it and thought of Ross Geller with two fingers to his forehead and a silly expression on his extremely slappable face, hello and welcome to my life.
I can’t remember when Friends (I refuse to write it with the periods in between) came into my life (it has to have been more than 15 years now) or who introduced me to it, but from the time I started watching it, it became an essential part of my life. Maybe it was because it aired at a time when Indians were just starting to mass-consume Western media, but 90% of my friends have watched the show and remember it well enough to quote it.
I remember watching every episode when I was younger and laughing my head off, and then rewatching all of them when I was much older, realising how much stuff had completely gone over my head earlier and wondering what exactly I had found funny if I’d missed so many of the jokes. Still, Friends was always a great conversation starter. Who you liked best invariably said something about you. I shunned people who claimed to love Ross or Rachel because I couldn’t stand them or their stupid romance, and while this view remained unchanged through the years, I was able to admit, with the help of age and maturity, that David Schwimmer was probably the best actor in that group.
Between my own friends, “remember that Friends episode when…” was a common occurrence. Everything and anything could and would be tied back to Friends, and the people who weren’t obsessive as us about the show would find it a chore to take part in the conversation. There wasn’t anything as fun as remembering random quotes, jokes or moments from the show, and sometimes, I miss that. I miss that level of obsessiveness, of having watched every episode at least 5 times, of knowing exactly what another person is talking about when they make a reference. There’s so much stuff out there these days, it’s hard for us to be single-mindedly focused on just one thing, and so there just isn’t that level of bonding over the love for one show.
Friends wasn’t uniformly great. It wasn’t the most diverse cast, the characters were not all given equal screentime or importance, some of the storylines were just downright weird (was there anyone who wanted to see Joey and Rachel hook up?). There was a big downward swing in quality in the later years, and there are episodes of Season 10 that I’ve probably watched just once (I KNOW). Still, there was something about it that gave me and a lot of other people unconditional joy. It still provides for so many fond memories. Whether it’s chuckling at Joey wearing all of Chandler’s clothes because he took his underwear, or imitating Monica’s “That’s not even a wooooord!”, or singing one of Phoebe’s horribly inappropriate songs, or happily indulging in Brad Pitt being snotty at Rachel, there’s never a dull moment when reminiscing about Friends.
I know I’ll never forget it. It will always be the show I first obsessed over. It will always be the show I can quote off the top of my head. In the way that people now get sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses based on personality, I sort people into Monicas and Rosses and Chandlers and Phoebes. It’s the show I grew up with, and even though I’m all grown-up now, it hasn’t left me.