Friends Is Boring and Overrated
The One Where I Review the Pilot and Finale of the 90s Sitcom Friends
Friends is one of those shows that has reached the level of popularity where people randomly quote it in conversation and can identify seemingly obscure references. It’s a sitcom that many people grew up with in the 90s and truly love. I must confess that as someone born in ‘98, I’ve watched maybe 8 episodes of Friends in my 22 years of life and even then, non-sequentially. I would just catch whatever episode was showing on Warner Bros when I came home from school. I don’t know much about the show but people always recommend it. I fully intended to binge-watch it at some point. Then, I realized there were 10 seasons. 236 episodes. That’s 4,720 minutes of content (approximately) and 78 hours of my life that I cannot commit.
Solution: I’m just going to watch the Pilot and the Finale. Now, I know what you’re thinking: that’s not enough to make a proper judgement of the merits of the show! It’s not but it should be logistically speaking. Hear me out! The pilot is supposed to draw the audience in and give you just enough information to compel you to continue watching, hook, line and sinker. Finales are meant to be satisfying, light-at-the-end-the-tunnel, nostalgia-inducing nuggets that provide a sense of closure and finality. I’m not doing any of the in-between stuff, it doesn’t matter. Sitcoms are so formulaic that you can kind of infer all the stuff that happened in the middle anyways. If this is your favourite show and that offends you, please remember, this is all lighthearted fun and not to be taken too seriously. It is only my opinion and opinions are not facts. Okay, let’s go!
Pilot “The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate”
My Stream of Consciousness during the Episode:
- I like the quirky “The One” titles, although it essentially spoils what the episode is going to be about.
- Iconic intro! Why do I know all the words to this?
- Damn, 90s sitcoms always get me with the laugh tracks. Why did we as a collective decide that was the thing to do in the 90s? Not inherently bad but definitely overused in this pilot.
- Phoebe’s kind of a mood, tbh. (Chandler, too)
- Rachel is…interesting. Not in a good way. I don’t foresee that improving over the course of the show but I think that, owing to how beautiful she is and how often we see her, we’ll forgive her annoying personality traits eventually.
- Matt LeBlanc was so good-looking in the 90s. That black V-neck with those jeans!
- They’re already setting up a Ross/Rachel romance, complete with longing stares out the window while under the cover of darkness and romantic music.
- “You guys all have jobs?” CRINGE. What? How? And also how old are they?
- Again, Phoebe is a whole mood.
- Ross/Rachel awkwardness starting in the pilot. You both just got out of entanglements, my dude. Let the body cool!
- Phoebeeee. Also, Rachel got a job...yay?
Final Rating: 6.5/10
This wasn't a bad episode by any metric, it was just okay. It wouldn't convince me to continue watching this show if I wasn't already watching it to review it. Not a lot happened. It was primarily set up for future episodes and introduction of the main characters. There were some funny jokes and times where I genuinely LOL'd. Mostly, a lot of the jokes fell flat which was awkward because, owing to the use of that stupid laugh track, I know that the writers were expecting a laugh. Don't get me wrong, my hatred of laugh tracks is not exclusive to this show. They tend to annoy me wherever they appear because they're very distracting and pull you out of the enjoyment of the world and its characters. It's like telling the audience "Hey, dummy! Laugh at my unfunny joke!". No, dummy. Write better jokes.
As for the characters. I like Phoebe, Joey and Chandler. At this point, I'm neutral about Monica and Ross but Rachel...Rachel!
Here are my predictions for the middle stuff: Ross and Rachel get together and break up a million times. Joey doesn’t become an actor (or he becomes a terrible actor and then realizes that’s not his true calling). Rachel becomes a slightly better character relatively speaking, gets a job and stops depending on her parents so much but retains most of the character traits that made her so annoying initially, namely self-centeredness, selfishness, inconsiderateness etc. We grow to love her though because...
Phoebe remains quirky and eccentric til the very end. I doubt the basic structure of her personality changes much but maybe parts of her backstory are slowly revealed and she's had it harder than the rest of the group? I should watch the rest but I’m not going to. Onto the Finale !
Finale “The Last One”
My Stream of Consciousness During the Episode:
- Damn, this is a two-parter. 46 mins, let’s do this!
- Back at it with the laugh tracks at all the wrong times.
- I see Ross and Rachel became a thing or, aren't a thing anymore but used to be a thing?
- Intro, still iconic!
- Chandler’s still an amazing idiot. Which one’s worse, going through labour or getting kicked in the nuts? No one will ever experience both. LOL.
- Phoebe is still the same, only it’s not as endearing now? Seems kind of out of place and exaggerated.
- Rachel is moving to Paris! The plot thickens!
- TWO BABIES?!!!! How did they not know they were having twins? Don’t you have to do ultrasounds before the fact?
- I’m kind of bored and this feels very long. A lot of the humour falls flat. It’s been 20 mins and there’s very little conflict besides the whole Rachel leaving for Paris thing which feels kind of mild.
- Omg, Paul Rudd is in this! And he looks the same! Is he like the white Pharrell? Has he accessed the fountain of youth?
- Was Joey always this dumb? He’s also less hot now.
- I have a feeling that this idiot is gonna fly to Paris thinking that Rachel is there and she’s gonna stay in New York and it’s going to be a whole thing--> Ok, I was wrong. The reality was even more unrealistic. Did Rachel just delay an entire flight?
- This voice message scene was hilarious. Predictable (because of the way it was shot), but very well done.
- Here we go. Nostalgic final scene in the old apartment. I honestly think this was not as impactful as the writers intended it to be, not only because I haven’t watched the middle stuff, but also because none of them are truly leaving.
Finale Rating: 6/10
The finale was worse than the pilot. It was really long, for one. I kept looking at the progress bar. It's weird because for how long it was, absolutely nothing remarkable happened. Nothing exciting anyway. Monica and Chandler had twins. Rachel was supposed to leave for Paris and then didn't.
Then there was this long scene in the apartment where they acted like their lives were ending and they were never going to see each other again. Then they went for coffee. They’re still all together which is also kind of unrealistic. The scene would have been much stronger if there was a greater sense of gravity to the situation. Maybe Ross and Rachel do leave for Paris? Maybe Monica and Chandler move out of state instead of within New York? This would show that friends growing apart is a natural part of life and that things don't always stay the same. Instead, Monica and Chandler are simply moving to a new house. Ross and Rachel are still in the city. Joey still lives in his old apartment. Phoebe is Phoebe. It feels a bit lacklustre. For people that watched this show, was this incredibly impactful? I think if I was someone who had invested 78 hours of my life and poured so much of myself into these characters and this narrative, I would be severely disappointed.
I can officially say that I've watched Friends now (kind of). I'm not going to watch any more because I'm a woman of my word and I'm also a busy undergrad so I literally don't have the time. I know I shouldn't make sweeping judgements or generalizations because I haven't watched it all the way through but I'm going to anyway. You shouldn't have to marathon a sitcom to "get it". Friends is not that great. It's a pretty basic, generic sitcom that lacks the flavour and spice to be truly great. I think the popularity of this show is bolstered mostly by 90s nostalgia and nothing else. It's not funny enough to be a comedy. It's not dramatic enough to be a drama. It's also not terrible enough to be truly terrible. It's just kind of okay.