The one where I don’t like Friends

As Comment Editor, it’s a given that I will come across a lot of differing views. You would think that the most controversial beliefs would be the ones concerning politics, or perhaps religion. But in my personal experience, I have discovered that this is not the case.

My most shocking opinion is usually discovered not long after I first meet someone. At some point in the conversation someone will make a reference to Friends. I then smile politely and say, “Sorry, I don’t watch it.”

The reactions will differ – some people are open-mouthed in shock, while others will give me a look of disgust or disbelief. What is always the same is that they cannot believe that I choose not to watch this cultural icon.

Yes, I know it is probably the most popular television programme of all time. I know it has a lot of fans around the world. But I still don’t really get the appeal.

I’ve seen a couple of episodes, and I don’t have the desire to watch any more. I get the premise – it’s a sitcom about six friends who all live in New York. But to me it’s just a typical American sitcom, with canned laughter, outlandish situations, and cheesy jokes. It all seems a bit forced.

But most people don’t see it this way. Despite it ending over ten years ago, this programme still has a lot of influence.  Barely a day goes by where a reference or a video from it doesn’t pop up on my Facebook timeline.

Friends has many fans from my generation, despite them being mostly too young to enjoy it when it was originally aired. So why is this the case?

I feel that to most people Friends isn’t just a television programme – it’s symbolic of a generation. It was made in a simpler time, when our lives weren’t dictated by social media and our online image. If people wanted to talk it had to be in person or on the phone.

Friendships between people are different now, and this may not be for the better. The characters in Friends make us nostalgic for a time that we never really lived in, but wished we could have experienced for ourselves.

In 2004 it wasn’t just Friends that ended – it was an era too. Now with Matt LeBlanc starring in the BBC’s new line-up of Top Gear, companies are taking advantage of the impact it still holds after all of these years. But what fans really want is more of what they had before – funny, light-hearted comedy that makes the world a little brighter.

They want to recapture the magic – not be disappointed by mediocre ‘specials’, or one-off appearances from cast members. Although I may not be a fan, I can respect that this programme means a lot to a lot of people. That’s what really makes Friends special.

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