After every few months or so, I start watching Friends from season 1 all the way to season 10.
I have no idea why I do it.
I have no idea why the very first season, the first episode, the first scene makes me feel comfortable again. Like I’m in a safe place. Like I can forget that I weigh a ton and that I only have 120 minutes to myself in the entire day.
Maybe it’s how Courteney Cox isn’t botoxed at all and how floppy Matt LeBlanc’s hair is, so reminiscent of the 90s. 1990s was a great-yet-pathetic time for people in my age group. It was filled with completely nerdy fashions and yet it became a part of who we were. Those small, leather knapsacks, clunky shoes, big hair and matte lipsticks. It’s also interesting that a lot of “Friends” comedy doesn’t include Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr or any other social media references. It doesn’t include people obsessively checking their cell phones. Entertainment wasn’t Wii and communication wasn’t Skype – it was going out for a movie or calling someone on that huge cordless telephone.
Not that I’m a luddite when it comes to social media and communication developments but Friends reminds me of a simpler time, you know?
So while there may be many more sitcoms which are written better or which have prettier people, it’s this emotional connection that I have with “Friends” is what makes me laugh every time I watch the show. It is this emotional connection which makes me think that Chandler Bing has to be one of my favorite television characters of all time.
When my ten-season-marathon ended, I went to the next best thing. How I Met Your Mother. I guess this is gonna be “Friends” for the facebook generation.
And it doesn’t matter what people say, Barney Stinson isn’t the only thing awesome about HIMYM. Ted Mosby, in his own annoying way, is really quite endearing. A lot of his quirks are relatable. Correcting the menus and wanting to have a plan be in its place so bad that everything goes haywire. Then there’s Lily and Marshall who are the epitome of commitment – gives hope to the masses who are rapidly beginning to lose faith in marriage as an institution. Barney and Robin are kinda like Ross and Rachel (will they, won’t they) except that they are completely different people than Ross and Rachel which is what makes me like them – and appreciate the fact that the creators of HIMYM took a classic theme of a will-they-won’t-they couple and not their personalities. I would have hated any show that attempted to recreate the ambiance that Friends had. HIMYM has its own tone, its own atmosphere.
Themes are similar: young adult ensemble cast juggling relationships and marriage and children and jobs. But the subtle differences collectively turn the show into a different direction. It’s beer instead of coffee, quirky womanizer suiting up saying “Legen-wait-for-it-dary” instead of a charming but dimwitted actor going “How you doin’!”. The differences begin to be more visible given the era HIMYM is being filmed in. Facebook stalking is a legitimate episode theme. Barney’s blog is a real thing. The technological changes that have come between the time the “Friends” pilot was shot and the time that “HIMYM” was shot have all impacted how the characters and story lines have developed.
Each show has its own merit, its own moments. I can’t say I choose on the basis of any of those aforementioned (or the billions that are going unmentioned) factors but I guess it’s fair to say that I grew up with “Friends” and I’m growing older with “HIMYM”.