‘So no one told you life was gonna be this way.’ Today, that line is among the most classic refrains sung on television. What started out as the humble opening line of a show centred on six young adults who were just starting out in life, in a world full of dreams and a career full of possibilities.
Today, despite the inexorable march of time and the advances it has brought with it, Friends continues to be among the most-loved, evergreen shows for people across the world.
Perhaps the reason Friends is adored by people from all walks of life, is that because when they see Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Ross, they see a little bit of themselves in them, and when we watch their antics time after time after time, we can’t help but smile ruefully and think to ourselves, ‘I’ve been there.’
We sympathised with a young, naïve Rachel when she fled straight to her high-school best friend Monica for comfort when she left her jilted fiancé at her own wedding, we understood Monica’s struggles when she was fired from her job, just for helping out her friends. Sometimes, it’s not easy being you are. It takes courage to stick to your principles when all those around you are questioning your way of life, but Phoebe Buffay did things in her own weird, wonderful way, and we all didn’t just love her, we respected and admired her for it.
And what of the guys? What of Chandler, who once summed himself brilliantly when he said ‘I’m not very good at the advice, can I interest you in a sarcastic comment? Some cheese?’ There he was, poor old Chandler Bing, stuck in a dead-end job, hating what he did, but sticking to it because it paid the bills, and then some. Throughout the 10 amazing seasons of Friends, Chandler was always torn between doing what was right and the right thing to do, and all those of us who worked these dead-end jobs understood exactly what he was going through.
In some ways, the actors’ on-screen struggles mirrored their off-screen lives. Matt Le Blanc, who played loveable Joey Tribbiani, was down to his last dollar bill when the audition for Friends came in. He decided to give his struggling acting career one last gamble, and how it’s paid off. For Matt Le Blanc and his co-stars David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Courteney Cox, Friends spawned a legacy that means the six of them will never be forgotten.
And Le Blanc’s real life seemed to reflect Joey’s reel one. A struggling actor who was often forced to borrow money or forego the finer things in life because he simply couldn’t afford it, he did his time in the trenches, from acting in lousy plays that were mercilessly torn apart by critics, to having to play unenviable roles in movies that often made him the butt of jokes from both his friends and those outside his immediate circle.
But he stuck with it, and became one of the most recognisable names in show business. And throughout his career, he never forgot his roots and where he came from. Just like Matt Le Blanc.
But the character who most divides opinion — both in the show and outside of it — is Ross Geller, PhD. While his career was always on solid ground (for the most part), his personal life was a mess. His life could be summed up in two words, repeated thrice... ‘three divorces, three divorces, three divorces’.
But instead of wallowing in self-pity, Ross met his challenges head-on, as did the others. And when they did choose to run away from the fight, they had five people who were closer than family to back them up. Thereby immortalising that oft-repeated line ‘I’ll be there for you’. – [email protected]
The Short and Skinny
Produced for: NBC
Produced by: Warner Bros, Bright/Kauffmann/Crane Productions
What it’s about: Six young friends embark on the greatest journey of all – their lives – in New York City, in what is among the most loved TV shows of all time today
Starring: David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Le Blanc, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox
Where to watch: Netflix, DirecTV, TBS, various streaming sites
IMDB Rating: 8.9/10