The Sorrow of Finishing Friends

This is not a regular article of mine, which exists to try and balance the negatives and positives of something and determine a hopefully justified opinion. This is not a review. This is just something I felt like writing, because as someone who has a blog dedicated to appreciating entertainment, it would be a shame if Friends was not appreciated.

Friends is a sitcom that has long run its course but is still remembered for its greatness. My mom is a fan, and the best thing about that for me is that I got to use her box set – brilliantly titled The One With All 10 Seasons – to watch everything at a stretch.

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The reason I am not writing a review is simply because there is too much to write about. Ten seasons, or 235 episodes, or just over 5000 minutes. I can’t do that. However, if I was to write a review, there would be nothing negative to say about the show, so it doesn’t matter.

The reason I’m writing this is that when the last episode finished, I felt empty. I watch TV shows frequently, but none have left me like this. None have left me feeling like I’ve lost something dear to me. I haven’t felt this way even after I finished my favourite movies, or turned the last page of my favourite books. It’s strange.

This is the biggest indication of the genius of this show. It ran for ten years, and the characters only got better as they went along. Their growth from the first to last season is something you go along with, and you feel like you really know them.

Joey will always be the immature kid inside, but he went from not caring to being a far more matured, serious young man.
Phoebe’s weirdness did not falter throughout the show and in the end, she found someone who appreciates the best part of her.
Ross’ three weddings and two children are no indication of his development, as his professional life only got better and in the end, he found happiness.
Chandler’s sarcasm never died, but his development is perhaps the most noticeable, as he overcomes his fears of commitment to be the more serious one in his relationship with Monica, and gives up his boring job to work as something he actually cares about.
Monica worked throughout the show to find her dream job and her dream partner, and she found both. Hers’ and Chandler’s long hope for children finally comes true and they are ready to start a family life together.
Rachel went from the spoiled brat to the responsible mom, and matured as far as having been offered a job in Paris.

All six of these characters are lovable in their own ways, and nobody can see them being portrayed by any other actors. Watching them grow so magnificently over time (although, for me, ten years was squeezed into about three and a half weeks) is heartwarming.

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To emphasise how great this is, I’m going to compare it to The Big Bang Theory, a show which has noticeably lost its touch. The contrast between its latest seasons and its first are astounding. It’s one thing to develop your characters, but over time, they lost the essence of themselves and almost became completely different. If Chandler, for example, had his humour taken away from him after about four seasons, Friends’ popularity would have taken a serious hit.

What I’m saying is that over the course of ten years, the show never forgot what its core is made of, but rather crafted itself around that.

Having said all that, however, the greatest thing about Friends is the bond that exists between its characters. As many comparisons as there are between this show and How I Met Your Mother, one thing the latter was never able to accomplish was to have the bond between its characters be as significant as the former. It comes in the writing, the context, the performances, and everything else. Everything in this show is interwoven around and between these characters, and that’s what makes it so special. Everything iconic about the show surrounds the characters. The show is a product of its characters. It is not the other way around.

As a result of this, Friends created two of the most memorable sets ever (pictured above): Monica’s apartment; and the Central Perk cafe. These sets are special not because they’re made well, but because these are the places where important interactions happen, great conversations happen, moving character moments happen, and everything else integral to the show happen.

The best word I can use to describe this post is this: Tribute. I haven’t really written a tribute to a television show or movie or anything of the sort, but this time I felt like I had to. For those who haven’t watched this show, you have to. For those who have, I hope you appreciate it as much as it deserves. Sitcoms aren’t really made like this one.

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