“I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts. Any one and everyone who at least had the brains to turn on the TV, and avoid the mindless trash that is Chhota Bheem and The Great Indian Soap Opera to tune into Star World has heard of this song. No prizes for guessing, but its the intro of my all-time favorite sitcom, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
FRIENDS was the greatest sitcom ever. Like it or hate it, everyone who is anyone has heard of it. Forgot heard, everyone who is anyone has at least SEEN one god damn episode of it. And FRIENDS never became stale. You didn’t need to stay up to date with the story arcs, download episodes on torrents, or not know all the long running jokes, or even know the characters by their first names to watch FRIENDS. All you needed was half an hour of undivided attention, and I promise you, you could turn off your TV with the satisfaction of having not wasted your time.
So, what made FRIENDS great? FRIENDS didn’t need a raunchy set of jokes (Forgive me Barney Stinson, But Joey Tribbiani didn’t need a suit and a catchphrase that would get over used to death.) FRIENDS didn’t need to entice its viewers with a long running premise of introducing a character for over 8 seasons (Yes How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM), I couldn’t care less how Ted met the mother anymore) FRIENDS didn’t need any guest characters who would pop in for a season and go off for purely reviving ratings (I’ve been told Kal Penn did a pretty decent job on Season 7 of HIMYM). And certainly not a long running gag on slapstick humor (Slap-Bet Anyone?). What really made FRIENDS great was purely one thing. It was the story of our lives. And I know for one, you who read this, you too would nod your head in agreement.
We could all relate to the leads of FRIENDS. We saw a bit of ourselves in Chandler, Joey, Ross, Monica, Rachel and Phoebe. Friends didn’t really have anything unique about it, but it did have the freshness of life to it. We’ve all had a friend like a socially awkward Ross, a sarcastic Chandler, Joey who was a serial flirt, a bit slow and an apparently infinite appetite, a sweetheart cleanliness freak like Monica, a diva like Rachel, and a nut-job like Phoebe. Like all six of them, the friend circles that we belong to have loved and lost, laughed and cried, and add whatever cliché of opposite emotions you would like. Friends was great without having to try too hard. It was one of those once in a lifetime things where everything fell into place. Any episode of FRIENDS can be watched any number of times without being boring, because, we still connect with what we see on the screen no matter how things change in life.
I could keep ranting but when I hear someone say, “Hey man, have you seen *insert title here*? It’s like the new FRIENDS!”, it really grinds my gears. Shut up you, there’s no such thing as old friends, new friends, and what not. There was, is and will only be one show that has that spot. It’s FRIENDS.