Friends and Laughter
What cheers me on, brings me joy and makes me laugh? That’s easy: Friends! No, I don’t mean the ones you invite over for dinner or go shopping with, although they definitely can have the same effect. I mean the ones with a big “F”, you know, the ones who are on constant reruns ever since the show was first aired in 1994.
It started airing here in Germany in 1996, and I loved it from the get-go. Basically I’ve been in love with the show for 23 years, wow! It was fun to watch those six young adults live their lives, creating careers for themselves as well as falling in and out of love. Who wouldn’t want such a tight-knit group of friends to hang out with, especially with regular seats on the most comfortable couch in the coffee shop next door? To this day it remains to be one of my favourite shows and thanks to TV reruns, YouTube and online streaming services I can have a dose of it whenever I want to.
What brings me so much joy from such an old show you may ask? Writing about it made me wonder the same. I think these days it’s like coming home. I know the setting. The always-available couch at Central Perk, for example, reminds me of a time in my life when I met with friends at a coffee house for a regular update on life. I know the characters so well, it’s like they are my friends.
There is the slightly obsessive Monica, who is always on the look out for dirty spots to clean and advice to give. Her brother Ross seems to be a handsome guy at first only to show off his scientific awkwardness and inner stiffness. The bride-to-be Rachel sets herself free by starting her “career”, first as a waitress and later working in the fashion industry for Ralf Lauren and Co, while having this on and off thing with Ross. Joey is the ever struggling actor who finally becomes famous for being in a daily soap, who just can’t resist good food or women, whom he often gets by asking “How you doin’?”. His best friend Chandler has a job so boring nobody remembers what he does until he finally starts working as a junior copywriter at an advertising agency. Yet he is best known for his sarcastic remarks at any given moment and for being smart and lucky enough to date and marry Monica after having a series of dating mishaps. Then there is Phoebe, the otherworldly one of the bunch, who performs songs that make you cringe but also gives the wisest advice at times. The characters are so well done; they remind us of friends and people we have in our lives and show that no matter how weird you are there are always people who love you for being exactly who you are.
I watched it so often, sometimes I even know the jokes that are to come and I cheerfully anticipate the laughter, theirs and my own. It’s the lightness and the positivity of the show that makes it such a great station to gas up my tank for everyday life, especially in moments that feel rather dreary or when life seems like too much. In such moments it reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s “Everything will be fine in the end. If it’s not fine it’s not the end.” And in moments I need no cheering on it simply adds to my own light-heartedness. So it’s perfect in any given moment!
Do you have an old show that just brings you instantaneous joy, too?