It has been 20 years this month since the most successful comedy tv show last graced our screens for the first time. Upon thinking back, or re-watching daily as millions do on worn out VHS, DVD or comedy central, it is apparent that Friends was way ahead of its time, and there are many life lessons we have all learnt along with our favourite TV characters. In no particular order, here is my top 30, and are the reasons why re-runs should go on forever so that the next generation can benefit from them too…
1. Fighting is not cool
Throughout the 10 series this is the message. The episode that sticks in mind is ‘The one with the Bullies’, where Ross and Chandler, bless them, try to resolve an idiotic conflict through every other means possible before resorting to fighting. Love not hate kids.
2. Picking up a flatmate in a supermarket is not a good idea
Oh Eddie you freak. Heartbreaking as it was when Joey left Chandler, the comedy which ensued with new crazy flat mate Eddie was worth it. You should live with people you already know and like and not pick up strangers who have the potential to be freaking mental.
3. Surrogacy and adoption are ok
There are a lot of malfunctioning wee-wees and hoo-hoos in this tv show. It seems trite to say something like this now as they have become normalised, but 10-15 years ago surrogacy and adoption were still a great taboo. Friends showed it was ok, and in fact could be highly rewarding and good for the world.
4. Binge drinking is not ok
This has to be one of the biggest life lessons. Every other series akin to Friends seems to revolve around drink. Friends only referenced it when it was to ridicule others (Monica’s 30th Birthday, Rachel and Ross getting married). It showed us that drink leads to embarrassment, and it just not worth it. It showed the damage it could do to relationships such as Monica and ‘Fun Bobby’.
5. Smoking is bad
In the mid-nineties when Friends started, it was not a taboo to smoke. Although research showing the damaging effects had started to appear, it was still very much socially acceptable and omnipresent – not in Friends. Chandler as the only ex smoking Friend was ostracised at every possible opportunity, and cigarettes did not appear frequently as they do in other shows. Way ahead of the curve.
6. Gay relationships and parenthood are ok
Gay rights have really only come into fruition recently, but again Friends was ahead of the pack. Now we see most TV shows feature some kind of same sex relationship, but it is often used as a tool to sex things up. Carol and Susan in Friends were one of TVs first functioning gay couples, and gay parents. That storyline did wonders for normalising the idea of same sex relationships.
7. Dating your assistant is a bad idea
Oh Rachel hun, yes Tag was a dish but you knew it was a bad idea from the offset! Work relationships (as Monica and Hoolio can tell us too) are a BAD idea. They will always end in tears or perhaps worse.
8. Turning 30 sucks
Ok so we can’t give friend the accolade for breaking this realisation but it depicts it well and shows us how to cope. Phoebe’s idea of a list of to-dos is now something most people I know live by. It also showed that at 30 people are at very different stages in their lives – which are all ok.
9. Do not trust Italian men
Paulo. That is all.
10. Keep chasing you dreams – the fear
What is breath-taking about the last series is you realise how far these characters have come. Each one of them have at one point given in to ‘the fear’ taken the plunge and been rewarded for it. Rachel seems to have been on the biggest journey from spoilt brat to successful career mum, but the same is true of Monica who danced on counters in cheesy diners to get to run her own restaurant, Phoebe who started on the streets and winds up a successful freelancer with a dishy husband. Ross has always been settled as that is in his nature but finally it seems as though there will be no more divorces, Joey has got some big shows under his belt and has learnt how to be faithful, and Chandler left his cushy job to follow his dreams. Good work guys.
11. Stock markets turn you crazy
When money is put before morals bad things happen. Monica is turned into an even more neurotic control freak when entering the stock market. This shows those that run in those circles have the psychopath syndrome and are not nice people.
12. Being ‘just friends’ rarely works
Many people claim to be ‘friends’ with their exes but what this usually means is racket ball partners – friends with benefits. This is especially the case with your first ‘true love’ like Richard is to Monica. Also a bad idea when the next love comes along (especially if it is Chandler) as jealousy will potential jeopardise trust (thank god Richard wasn’t in the cupboard).
13. Peeing on yourselves soothes a jelly fish sting
14. Free porn used to be a big deal
“FREE PORN! WE HAVE FREE PORN!” Yeah ok so this is a thing now, but Friends reminds us that this was not always the case. So whenever we are perusing the darker side of the internet we should be grateful. If Friends was still going I doubt we would ever see Joey.
15. Divorce is ok
Poor Ross. He taught us that you must indeed dust yourself off and try again. Divorce was still a rather big taboo 15 years ago, and this nice normal man showed us that it is sometimes unavoidable. Oh and that whirlwind holiday romances are not a good idea (ahem).
16. Building forts at any age is a good way to spend your time
17. Man bags will never be ‘a thing’
Despite Rachel’s best intentions ‘man bags’ never really caught on, even to this day. Yes a wallet will suffice, maybe a laptop case.
18. Large corporations are evil
From Pottery Barn to The Spa, Phoebe taught us that in an age of rising conglomerates and capitalist mentality it is always best to support the little man. Homogeneity is no good thing, and this is one of the trendiest mantras of today started by our Phoebs.
19. Strippers are people too
When the girls entered the strip club to help Chandler move to phase 2, they showed that the women there are people too just trying to get on in life. The stripper for Phoebe’s bachelorette party obviously had many feelings and probably some mummy issues but the lesson is that we should not objectify or judge (no she did not steal ring!).
20. One person’s negative opinion shouldn’t matter
When Monica got a bad review she spiralled into a phase of self-doubt. Upon taking a beginners class she learnt that one person’s negative view should not stop her from doing what she does best. Just because one person says something, it doesn’t make it true and she taught us to believe in ourselves even when others don’t.
21. Friends are more important than money
The one with the lottery. Money can tare people apart if we are not careful and this gang (albeit with some hiccups) showed that friends are more important than funds.
22. Fake tan is evil
“I’m an 8!”
23. Keeping your door unlocked means you will get walked in on whilst naked
And an open weave will not hide your nipples.
24. Complaining to companies gets you free stuff
Another Phoebe classic. One could say she started the trend of company complaints – who doesn’t want a free football phone and $500?! Phoebe. Bless her. Her trials and tribulations with corporations certainly showed the underdog can be triumphant.
25. Breast milk tastes like cantaloupe juice
And it is ok to taste it.
26. Homeless people are not bad people
Phoebe often harked back to the days she spent on the street. Today there is still very much a taboo surrounding homeless people that believes they are there from their own doing – she proved this wrong. Her kind nature towards those less fortunate was truly inspiring, telling us you must not forget where you came from and always help others.
27. Taking stuff from work is not ok
It may get you fired. There is much research on this topic on employees stealing pens, post-its and other sundries, which can be forgiven with the minimum wage the state it is. But steaks are a step too far, we know that now.
28. It’s ok to have a list
“You know, a list of five celebrities you can sleep with and the other person can’t get mad”. This is probably the largest cultural phenomenon to emerge from our beloved series. Although I struggle to stick to five, and do bisexuals get two lists? I would like further clarification.
29. You can have any name you want
Crap Bag, or Princess Consuela Bannanahammock, the world is your oyster. May want to check the Urban Dictionary before committal though.
30. The sweatpants phase is a thing
It is perfectly legitimate to sit around for days in your sweatpants watching re-runs and eating the entire contents of one’s fridge after a break up. This was Chandler’s thing, not our dear Bridget Jones.
So there we have it. Ten years on it is important that we remember Friends for all the wisdom it imparted over the years. And since it was famed in an era without social media or blogging, it is important to now keep its sentiment alive for younger generations to enjoy.