The First of Our Friends to Go


The show was also categorized when it premiered as a Gen X sitcom. (This was 1994, the year of “Reality Bites” and Kurt Cobain’s suicide, during the brief period when all of pop culture was trying to get a piece of the generation before forgetting about it.) This hook, like the tenure of Marcel the monkey, fortunately did not last.

Instead, “Friends” became a show about the first decade of adult life. This may be part of the reason it found a perpetually renewing audience among Millennials, who found it in syndication, and Gen Z, who found it streaming. It was about something everyone in any era understands: beginnings.

If you were, like me, roughly the same age as the cast, you saw the characters go through milestones of life as you did. If you watched it 20 years later as a preteen, it was a form of practice adulthood. It was sweetened to go down easy — the impossibly vast Manhattan apartments, the copious leisure time — and it was optimistic. Someday you could be like this, on your own but not lonely. Your job might be a joke, you might be broke, your love life D.O.A., but it would get better. You and your friends would make it better.

Every beginning implies an ending, and on sitcoms that ending usually remains implicit. The “Friends” finale, in 2004, left the characters at the end of the beginning, getting married, having kids, moving away. Even if you watched as a kid, you probably knew this didn’t mean happily ever after. But the show at least allowed you to imagine things going upward from there, however rough the start.

This was true for Matthew Perry’s Chandler in particular. You met him as young, sharp and sarcastic. He was funny, but he was hardly happy-go-lucky — that was Joey (Matt LeBlanc). He was unlucky in love. He hated Thanksgiving because that was the day his parents announced their divorce when he was 9.


Source link