Time to Remember
There was a time in the early days of streaming content on Netflix that I could scroll through the menu for hours and find very little to watch. Either because I had seen most of their (way-old) movie offerings or because it was the z list bottom of the barrel that I had no interest. Sure, there was the occasional gem, but it was a veritable needle in the haystack of cheesy offerings.
Times have definitely changed for the better. With outstanding original content (Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Lillyhammer-to name a few) and their ever evolving addition of a mixture of new and old television and movies , my queue is never empty of viewing possibilities to wile away my free time. A collector of dvds previously, I have always found binge watching TV shows the best way to watch most serialized dramas (see LOST, Battlestar Galactaca, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, etc.) but found with watching multi-season sitcoms I tended to lose steam and would have to put them aside (if only briefly) to maintain their charm. Or at least to get me out of the house.
Unfortunately, that isn't true of my new-old obsession , Friends. I have always been a fan of the show having watched it since the premiere episode, but there really isn't anything like watching episodes back to back to see just how good it was from the beginning. Originally tooled as a starring vehicle for Courtney Cox, in no time it evolved into starring the group as a whole (they even negotiated contract renewals and pay raises as a group)with each role a defined piece of the tapestry. Monica - the ocd driven Chef whose intimidating need for control masks the mushy former fat girl inside, her brother Ross (David Schwimmer- how I didn't realize how much I missed you!) - the hopelessly nerdy and neurotic romantic whose on-again-off-again relationship with Rachel provides the heart of the show. Rachel (Jennifer Anniston who was always just eminently charming and watchable)- the poor little rich girl finding her way in the world without the support of her parents whose heartstrings are continually tugged at by the boy who always secretly cared. Chandler (the brilliantly funny Mathew Perry)- the emotionally stunted jokester who masks a troubled past with lightning fast quips. Joey (There is a reason NBC gave Matt LeBlanc his own show . It takes intelligence and talent to play stupid!)- the struggling New York Actor who might be dumb, but his honesty and forthright manner sometimes display a wisdom of not knowing any better.Last and certainly not least Pheobe (What can I say about Lisa Kudrow besides that I find her one of the funniest actresses out there. Her turn of phrase and line readings are so original- she makes even so-so lines work.) - the walks-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer masseuse whose hippy-dippy new age wisdom and her sunny disposition belies her tragic childhood. All very different and distinct personalities, but together they make one complete whole.
Immediately starting with the first episode this magnificent cast clicked with well defined characters and tangible relationships with history and I was hooked. The typical "will they or won't they" plot that can make or break a series played out realistically and achingly familiar for anyone who has carried a unrequited love. (The first time Ross and Rachel kiss still brings me to tears!) I also found it to be remarkable that most times when I revisit an old favorite TV show or movie from my younger days, I find that it doesn't age well- Maybe something in them spoke to my age or the times- but friends still makes me laugh out loud. The show may have had some of the gimmicks that plague sitcoms -stunt casting, funny animals, stunt casting( they did that a lot!) but its' heart it had truths. Relationships can be messy, life will throw you curve-balls, growing up is hard, your paths my diverge, but in the end we actually do get by with a little help from our friends.
I know how it is going to end. I know how it gets there. But right now, I am about to go back to binge-watching this classic TV series from the '90s.( Yes, I said it. Classic.!) I guess I'll do something productive another day.
Damn you, Netflix!
And at the same time,thank you. I forgot how much I missed hanging with these friends.
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