Re-Watching Friends as an Adult
I started re-watching Friends on Netflix recently. Friends was the ultimate show of the 90s and early millennium. It was in the era of ‘Must See TV’ where NBC dominated television Thursday nights and when people still gathered together to watch tv with each other. The show was well-made, funny, made good use of an ensemble cast, and had many endearing moments.
I hadn’t seen it since it went off air and many years later I’d have to say watching it was a bit of a different experience than when it was originally on. I realized I didn’t like it nearly as much the second time around which surprised me because it used to be one of my favorite shows. I still enjoyed and laughed out loud at many of the situations, but it was different. It was kind of like going to Disneyland again as an adult after several years being away. As a child you loved it so much and had such fond memories but going back as an adult it just wasn’t the same.
I saw the characters in a different light. They didn’t mesmerize me as much and they didn’t seem as cool as I remembered. This has a lot to do with fashion and technology but also when it first came out I was younger than the characters and I looked up to them. Now that I’ve reached their age and beyond I see things differently than I did before. I think with bingeing you start to notice many more things than if you watched in real time.
The first thing I noticed was where did they get all this downtime from work to hang out in the coffee house? I get it, it’s a sitcom and there needed to be some sort of central meeting place but seeing it later I thought it was so unbelievable that they were always there throughout the day. What person who works in NYC has free time to pop into a sit-down coffee house all the time? Now that I’ve been to New York several times and understand the geography this came off as totally unrealistic considering most of the characters worked nowhere near Greenwich Village.
How often did they really work? Episodes would go by where you wouldn’t see anyone work and as a restaurant chef Monica certainly wouldn’t have been able to ever hang out at night. Why didn’t we see more of their work friends? After college people are generally friends with people they meet at work because they have things in common. Ross wouldn’t have been made fun of so much about his profession if he was hanging out with Paleontology people. Joey wouldn’t have been seen as stupid because his friends would be like-minded hot actor people, Rachel would have been friends with tons of hot fashion mavens and more gay men. She wouldn’t have the time of day for someone who dressed like Phoebe.
The second time around through an adult’s eyes I viewed the characters differently. Before I always had looked up to them as adults I wanted to be around but now I was able to see their flaws and immaturity. Some friends that were my favorite weren’t anymore.
Rachel- The character of Rachel was the It girl of the 90s with a hairstyle even named after her. You either wanted to be her or be her friend. Rachel was always cute and fashionable. This time around she struck me as unintelligent, whiney, and way too superficial. I didn’t look up to her anymore and rolled my eyes at a lot of her behavior.
Monica-Back in the day Monica was the annoying mom one. She was obsessive compulsive and a neat freak. Now Monica is the one that I like the most. She’s successful and gets shit done. She’s a multi-tasker and can help you efficiently organize your baby shower/wedding/birthday party/whatever. Monica is now someone I’d really like to be friends with because she has goals that she actually accomplishes.
Phoebe-Before I always thought Phoebe was fun and whimsical. She was like the hippy girl that you knew in high school. Now I find the character of Phoebe to be highly irritating with all the dumb and weird stuff she says and does. I question how she even fit in that group in the first place.
Joey-Before I always thought Joey was hot. I now think he’s still cute but kind of a loser because he’s always mooching off people and he never changes through the show. He’s also way more misogynistic than I remember.
Chandler-Before I thought Chandler was nerdy yet entertaining. Now I realized that he was actually a pretty good guy. He helped out Joey and Phoebe with getting jobs at his company, he always paid for Joey, and he always treated Monica well.
Ross-I always thought Ross was rather annoying but now I find him to much more annoying and terrible than I remember.
There were many things that didn’t bother me that much or even notice I now when I first saw it that I now watch and think ‘this is wrong on so many levels!’
When Rachel went to London to tell Ross that she loved him I originally had the young girl innocence that believed in their love story and thought she should go there and that it would all work out. Now I really related more to her plane seat mate’s emotions when he told her she was a terrible person!
The whole Monica- Richard thing I wasn’t really on board with. I know the Richard character was supposed to be a sexy older man but since he was a family friend that had known her since childhood the whole thing seemed weird. Monica always appeared physically and emotionally so much younger next to him, so it felt creepy and mismatched. Also, considering she was a patient of his, their relationship could be considered unethical. Then Monica dated Richard’s son! What was going on here? The whole thing was just wrong.
The whole ‘on a break’ thing had always been emotional and heart wrenching. Usually I’m not a Ross fan but I’m with him on this one. While I think it was bad timing and questionable it was in fact a break and she needs to get over it 8 years later.
Ross tries to hook up with his cousin. I get it Ross was lonely, I get it, Denise Richards is totally hot. Still, this. No. No on so many levels! This isn’t funny and endearing, this is gross and permanently destroys any redeeming qualities for the character of Ross.
Ross dating his student is bad and I’m not sure why this was included in the show. I don’t understand why he’d be so dumb to think this was okay and it was even creepier that she wasn’t old enough to drink.
Rachel and Tag- I remembered them dating but I didn’t remember the interview process and was shocked when I saw she hired him with no experience over the other highly qualified candidate because she thought he was hot. What is going on Friends? This wasn’t even in the earlier 90s episodes this was this century.
Ross fires a nanny because he was a man. Talk about gender discrimination. What was wrong with this guy and the message they were trying to portray to viewers? Plus, I loved Freddie Prinze Jr. and think he would have been an awesome long-term addition.
Ross pretending to be a masseuse so he could massage a hot woman only to find out he had to do her father and injured him because, well he’s not a masseuse and doesn’t know what he’s doing. This is so not funny and pretty much assault.
A lot of stuff I just thought was so unbelievable that it seemed hokey. Were we supposed to believe that Chandler always covered the rent and food for Joey for the majority of the show? Monica was fine paying for everyone raiding her refrigerator all the time? Central Perk with just muffins and coffee needed waitresses? The whole premise of the duck and chick, and that whole storyline of Marcel the monkey?
A lot of time watching shows for the second time you see things you didn’t normally see. I wasn’t as spellbound watching Friends the second time around but it’s still a really sweet show from an era pre-social media. It will always emulate that time-period for me such as shows like 90210, Melrose Place, and Sex and the City.