29 day challenge: friends, day 10: in which I have a favorite season one episode …

Soooooo, I had a bit of a health issue over the past couple of days, so I didn’t really have time or energy to do the challenge. I’m feeling a bit better today, but I am definitely going to keep this one short so I can double up and do Day 11, too. Day 12 and 13 will be on Saturday … or maybe I’ll get to Day 12 today? I dunno.

Anyway, on with Day 10!

I feel like the early seasons really understood how to connect with their audience, who, at the time, was 20-somethings. They created characters who were archetypes, sure – Joey the womanizer, Rachel the selfish daddy’s little rich girl, Monica the career woman, Ross the intellectual, Chandler the sarcastic guy, and Phoebe the flower child – but as they were trying to establish what the show was, there was a depth to them. The pilot wasn’t that great, and it does take a few episodes before they really start to catch their footing. And the episode where that happened? “The One with George Stephanopoulos.”

Number one, it has one of my all-time favorite Phoebe lines:

Monica: Phoebe, do you have a plan?

Phoebe: I don’t even have a pla.

That, right there, is one of the most relatable moments in the entire series, even now. Nobody knows what they’re doing, even people, like Phoebe, who seem to have a clear grasp on who they are. Rachel’s depression – that had spread to Monica and Phoebe by then, as evidenced by her quote – encapsulates that weird feeling you have as a new adult: up until that point, you figure that everything will fall into place once you graduate college and being an adult just happens … which LOL, I’m 36 and am still working on figuring all that out. I think that’s the one thing I wish my younger self knew – that you never actually “grow up.” You just kind of get better at faking it, I guess? And trying your best, knowing that it could fall apart at any given second, because this world is just utter chaos.

Number two, the whole squealing and flailing of arms that Rachel does with her old, rich kid friends (which Phoebe and Monica promptly and appropriately mock) makes me feel like it would have been a Vine post, similar to “And they were roommates.”

Number three, Ross getting his face smashed in by a flying hockey puck is pretty much perfect symbolism for how his life is going. He’s trying to enjoy being single, to move on past his divorce, and then bam, he sees little things that remind him of his relationship with Carol and bring him back into self-pity. Which … trust. I get that.

Number four, the whole hospital scene is hilarious, even Ross’ overacted fight with the kid over the hockey puck that hit him. The nurse is gloriously callous to everything, and her anger at not being 100% satisfied by her candy bar is comedy gold.

It’s not that I think that people succeeding and being happy with the direction their life is heading, but Friends was in its element when times were a little rougher for the cast. It never managed to reach that happy medium that Parks and Rec did, where things could be going well for the characters, but they still managed to find conflict and the hilarity within it. When things started to go well for the Main Six, the writers just manufactured ridiculous plots to keep the characters busy or angry with each other. But in the earlier seasons, they didn’t have to do that. All the characters have a struggle, so that, no matter who you are, you could connect with at least one of them. I really wish that had continued throughout the rest of the series, but alas, it did not.

Art Credit: ThingLink

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