The PC Thug: I Don’t Miss “Friends”

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I love nostalgia. I love to celebrate nostalgia, and I love re-living the nineties when I’m bored or blue. But I certainly do have my limits when it comes to nostalgia and selling me nostalgia. There’s a big difference between celebrating the nineties and buying any crap that’s kind of from the nineties. I thought slap bracelets were cool, but I’m not going to spend ten dollars for one on Ebay. And yes, at one time I watched and enjoyed “Friends,” but it’s by no means the one of the best TV series of all time. Surely, it lasted ten seasons, but does that mean it should be celebrated? Am I the only one who remembers those last three awful seasons of the series where the writers were just making shit up and bringing on any guest stars? Does no one else remember “Joey”?

I watched “Friends” religiously years ago, but don’t let nostalgia convince you that it was one of the best shows of all time. And if you think it’s the best show of all time, great, but is it really as flawless as the sites celebrating its twentieth anniversary have boasted it as? The nostalgia band wagon has gone so far, we’re seeing news items about potential reunions for “Seventh Heaven,” now! Talk about an excruciating patronizing piece of crap. And yes, I watched it when it was on the WB back in the nineties, but I eventually got so sick of it and turned the channel. And do we really need a “Full House” reunion series? Just because something is old, it doesn’t mean it’s automatically great, and “Friends” is by no means a great show. It definitely has its funny episodes, and some raucous moments of comedy, but those moments are few and far between.

When “Friends” wasn’t completely mediocre, it was soapy, saccharine, sugary crap not even Gary Marshall would touch. How many times did we see someone chase someone else to the airport to confess their love? How many special episodes did we have featuring a birth or a marriage? Dear God, how awful was that series finale? And if you really look at it objectively, the series only starts being watchable after the first two seasons, and right when Monica and Chandler start having the affair after Ross’ London wedding, the show completely runs on empty from thereon in. The only reason why those last seasons are worth anything is because of Paul Rudd, who is brought on to the show as a supporting player to inject actual comedy in to the series once again.

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And for the time that he’s allowed to be Paul Rudd, he gets the most laughter. His fierce ping pong match with Monica in the Barbados episode is funnier than most “Friends” episodes. Another fine casting move was Aisha Tyler, one of the few African American love interests on the series who also managed to inject her genuine comic talents during her short stint as a love interest. I remember reading that Jennifer Aniston didn’t really want to come back to the final seasons but was persuaded by NBC big time, and who can blame her? The entire cast is on auto-pilot for those last seasons and the show gets even soapier and dramatic than ever. Monica and Chandler can’t have a baby, so they adopt one from a woman who has twins. One boy and one girl.

Can you imagine if life was just that kind to everyone? And let’s face it, while every site on the internet is pretending that “Friends” was a milestone of pop culture in the nineties, no one is willing to admit that most of the cast were just much better off without the series. Jennifer Aniston just now managed to re-invent herself and has been doing a damn good job, Lisa Kudrow is still a brilliant character actress, and even Matt LeBlanc has found his own success. Nostalgia can do some fun things, including blocking out objectivity and letting us look through rose colored glasses. “Friends” was a very successful show from the 90’s that has aged piss poorly and only a quarter of its episodes from its entire run are watchable.

“Friends” had its time in the nineties, it had a long successful run, but one that was painfully imperfect and mildly entertaining for only four seasons. Let’s quit celebrating its run by acting as if none of the junk involving the spin off, the monkey, the adoption, the Joey/Rachel/Ross love triangle, and the gradual dumbing down of its characters ever happened, shall we? And can we stop raising a ruckus every time a series coincidentally aired a decade or two ago?