-“(They’ll) be there for (me)…”

My wife and I have decided that Friends is something we can’t even pretend to feel guilty about watching. Sure, when hobnobbing with other comics whose opinions I respect I chuckle and “admit” I watch it. But, I say it with a faux coy demeanor the way I “admit” to eating McDonalds more than twice a month. There’s nothing we find terribly guilty about it. Or at least we haven’t till recently.

 

 

Me and "the gang"

Me and "the gang"

Fanaticism for the show was something we were both delighted to find we had in common when we first met. In fact, the first real bonding experience between Amy and my sister and brother-in-law was gathering around the TV at their small Upper East Side apartment to watch the final episode and say goodbye to the gang at Central Perk.

This is a show people are a little embarrassed to have been into, like admitting you once went to Third Eye Blind concerts or wore Cavariccis. It’s a show that was fun for its time, but now watching it involves catching evening reruns on your local CW affiliate with your clandestine group of other twentysomethings hoping that at no point one of you jumps up and yells, “ha! I hate this show! You’re all losers!”

 

Let’s face it: the reputation for being an unrealistic portrayal of twentysomethings trying to make it in Manhattan has dogged it since its inception. Few can relate to being a struggling actor or chef living in a lavish and spacey apartment. The humor is often dry and the characters formulaic. Admittedly, I wouldn’t even watch the airing of the first season, as my 14-year-old cynical self refused to be insulted by a show resorting to the use of a monkey to amuse its viewers.

Once they got rid of Marcel, though…

By the end of high school, fellow nerd-friends and I had decided which character we were. I was Chandler, Ben was Ross, and Eric was Joey.

In college, my natural shyness and some unfortunate incidents prevented me from going out and getting a social life, so I spent my first three years watching Friends. Sadly, I was better friends with those guys than the people in my hall. Ask me a fact about my RA other than the fact that he is my RA and I wouldn’t know what to tell you. Ask me what TV character the manager of Central Perk, Gunther had once played and on what show and, without hesitation I’d tell you it was “Bryce” on “All My Children.”

 

Once Amy and I moved in together, Friends became our main TV staple during the evenings and on weekends. Reasons for watching the show began mimicking our reasons for buying bottles of wine. “I’ve had a bad day.” “I’ve had a great day!” “Hey, you know what I’m in the mood for?” Comfort became equated with wine and watching a lifestyle that temporarily took us out of our shoebox sized apartment, low paying day jobs, and mundane day to day activities. And that’s why I think we clung to it. Like alcohol, it offers a mind-numbing release even if we know it’s probably bad for us.

Gunther "Bryce"

Gunther "Bryce"

 

Just the other night we had popped in a DVD and something about the episode that we had watched a thousand times, like all the rest, had bothered Amy. The attitude of Chandler regarding Joey doing knitting and potpourri making with his female roommate was “heteronormative.” Wow! Had we watched one too many times? Maybe we couldn’t admit it to ourselves but perhaps we needed a break. Or maybe all the episodes are that insulting to our beliefs! Who knows? I guess we’ll find out when we pop in the next disc later on tonight.

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