Friends is my all time favourite TV show. Have I ever mentioned that?
(Check out ‘Why Being A ‘Monica’ Isn’t That Bad (And, Yes, I Know She’s the Most Annoying One‘ and ‘Kickass Female TV Characters Who I Totally Relate AND Look Up To!‘)
Watching these six funny, beautiful New Yorkers living in their cool city apartments with their exciting careers and bustling social lives gave me hours of entertainment as a teen. You know what else it gave me? An incredibly unrealistic expectation of how my own life would turn out.
Thanks to the optimistic glow of ’90s American television, I assumed my life would be just like that of the Central Perk bunch. I thought, for starters, I’d live in the city. That was a given. London really was calling me, and I imagined my own funky purple flat in the heart of the capital. I thought I’d inherit a fashion sense – maybe kooky, like Phoebe, or sophisticated, like Rachel – and totally own my self-confidence, at last. Sure, I’d probably work a brief dead-end job – for like, what, six months? – before finding my destined career path. I saw myself surrounded by peers – pizza after work, cute coffee dates, weekend brunches at the kitchen table. My social life would flourish, as would every aspect of adulthood.
But things don’t always work out that way, do they? I don’t live in the city, I live in the closest commuter town I can afford, which is pretty grim and still at least an hour outside of London. I wear the same clothes I wore as a teenager, just with a little less “scene kid” and a couple more office blouses. I have worked retail and customer service jobs since leaving uni, fresh-faced and full of sitcom-enhanced dreams, just waiting for my perfect job to come along. It’s been three years now. I’m still waiting.
My life is NOTHING like Friends. And I gotta be honest, that kinda annoyed me for a while.
But having recently re-watched the series (yet again), I realised that although Friends blew my expectations sky-high, it also has so many moments of comfort for when you feel like you’re not quite where you hoped to be.
Like when Rachel, Phoebe and Joey don’t earn much money and find themselves ordering side salads and teeny tiny pizzas just so they can afford to go out with the rest of the gang.
What about when Chandler quits his office job and plummets for an unpaid internship in his thirties, with absolutely no idea how his career is going to pan out, simply relying on ingenious slogans like, “Cheese: it’s milk that you chew” and “Bagels and doughnuts: round food for every mood“.
Or when Rachel freaks out about turning 30 because she thought she’d have the whole married-with-kids thing sorted by now but instead she’s dating her immature office assistant and Prada haven’t started making maternity clothes yet.
While they look like shiny, happy people on the surface, the group really don’t have it all figured out. Sure, by season ten Joey is a huge soap opera star, Monica is head chef at the flashiest restaurant in town and Phoebe finally marries Mike and gets the “normal” life she’s always dreamt of. But most of the series is spent trying to piece together the mistakes and mishaps of their lives – they’re just lucky they’ve got a great bunch of people to do it with.