A Friend in need is “Friends” indeed

FYI's Zainab Muhammad talks about why the iconic show still resonates.

As we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, we as humans, in our innate nature, keep fighting to keep going, to manage somehow, to be positive and hopeful.

It is in moments like these that I myself realized the importance of this show in my life.  

Being born in the late 80’s and a child of the 90’s, when visiting my much older cousins in Islamabad, they would have their Friends episodes videotaped and had them sent to us every week in Karachi on video cassettes as well. That is when the love affair began.

Friends. A sitcom that I’d grown up with, had eaten in front of and had frequently used as background noise. Looking back, it’s as if I’d always known the characters intimately. I had been each of the six at some point in my life. Just like the Central Perk couch, Friends is now an entire part of my life that I can’t get enough of.

With the Corona scare every second, I am finding that it is saving me. My sanity. It is like a comfort blanket I didn’t even know I needed.

Arguably, it was the natural, persistent relevance of Friends’ storylines, its comedy and the ease of watching which has cemented its status as a consistent, light comedy favourite.

And sure, there are things about the show that feel dated now. Maybe even slightly cringeworthy. But let’s leave our ‘woke’ hats behind for a second and admit that by and large, for so many of us, the show never went stale. If anything, its relevance is now more than ever, with the surge in 90’s love and Jennifer Anniston breaking the internet with a picture of all of them now, sitting together. The happiness of seeing that picture, it’s like a time capsule.

The Friends Renaissance

A 90’s show, always alive, but reborn.

Why does it still speak to me? To perhaps so many of us?

It starts with the characters.

Monica, for once having been overweight and cooking for people when she’s fit (the control freak that she is and Monica “pulling a Monica”).

Chandler’s iconic sarcasm, his parental issues.

Doctor, PHD, Ross Geller, a Paleontologist , first wife lesbian and pregnant, second, the British “chippy” intimidated by Rachel, and third in Vegas married to Rachel. He’s proper, funny, smart and foolish at the same time, Rachel’s lobster and mommy’s boy and his sheer love for marriage proposals.

Joey, the baby of the show, “Joey doesn’t share food” kind of foodie (Meatball Sub) the struggling actor, his first shot as Al Pacinos a**, the brotherly love him and Chandler share

Rachel, her haircuts, and how she finely adjusts with a life in New York city.

Pheobe’s manic and quirky energy and aliases.

“Stop stealing my thunder.”

“Could you BE more annoying?”

“Oh.My.God” (Janice style)

It is all this and yet so much more.

Honestly, it’s the relationships that we made with these characters and how, as they grew close and became ‘family’, they became a part of ours too.

Varied humour throughout the ten seasons has set high standards. Their one liners and iconic character moments are some of the reasons we keep watching the show religiously, again and again AND again. These have driven the show and its characters further into the modern mainstream.

It’s the moments, as well.

One liners such as Ross’s famous ‘pivot’ scene (hi-larious).  ‘We Were on a Break!’ line to answer the Ross – Rachel breakup, the videos from high school, geeky Ross, from hairstyles to each and every line.

Oh, not to forget, Ugly Naked guy, Mr. Heckles and Gunther. The many celebrity appearances, especially Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Danny Devito, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis and Brook Shields.

There’s something comforting about watching a television series from beginning to end. It’s surprising how much ten seasons can alter your opinion and enhance your admiration for the show. The Friends dynasty is still as appropriate into 21st century culture.

To some of us, Friends never went off the radar.

That’s partly why there’s been a Friends Renaissance: Friends no longer acts as background noise, but as a deliberate watch for millions of eyes viewing it through a modern lens.