I was only 9 or 10 when Friends first came on the air, and honestly, I wasn’t really allowed to watch it. Well, I’m not 100% sure about that because I never asked, but based on the fact that everyone was having lots of premarital sex, starting with the very first episode, I’m fairly certain I would have received a resounding NO from the parental units. I watched my Doug and Double Dare and Clarissa Explains It All and Legends of the Hidden Temple like any kid in the early 90s did, and nobody really talked about Friends at school, so it wasn’t like I was missing anything. I cannot say that I wish I had been introduced to the show when I was younger, because, full disclosure, I probably would have gotten super bored with it after a few minutes. “They’re just sitting around in a coffee shop? And there are no dragons? Or obstacle courses? What is even the point?”
Fast forward to 2000: I’m working my first job at Sam Goody/Suncoast, and this girl (we’ll call her Pam since I can’t remember her actual name) had put the VHS tape in to play throughout the Suncoast side of the store. This Pam was particularly interesting to me: she was 21, dating a guy who was 40, and just seemed so grown up and sophisticated. Why? Maybe it was pointy press-on nails she wore. I dunno. Anyway, I wanted to be like her – minus the much older boyfriend part – so I watched the show with her in between stocking the shelves with these new-fangled digital video discs that were $30 a pop. She even started from the very first episode, so for the first time, I was experiencing something from the beginning instead of falling in love with a show in the second or third season and going back to watch all the previous episodes.
I was fascinated by the freedom they had, the style, the clear direction about who they were as people. I know now that it was just a ridiculous fantasy, but as a teenager, I thought it was not only possible, but attainable. I just had to move to NYC and meet five people that probably wouldn’t be friends IRL and invite them to my apartment that was enviably and eclectically decorated.
Art Credit: Thinglink