Richard Bellis

A personal challenge to watch Friends before graduation

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In 21 years of my life, I had never watched an episode of Friends, I had heard about it, knew the theme and understood that it was supposed to be this massive part of 90s and early 00s American culture. So when I told people at uni that I had never seen an episode they set me on a challenge to watch all of Friends before graduation.  Here is a review of my journey so far…

 

Series 1

Series 1 was a hard watch, it felt like a chore to watch. I did not care for the characters and what was going on, I didn’t find the jokes funny and I didn’t laugh when the laugh track came on. I would find myself laughing at other things. I think that was my British humour rather than American humour. The actors themselves were just getting used to the roles as well and the series was just establishing itself. The show had yet to find its feet. The most relatable character was Ross, I didn’t understand the hate for him at the time.

 

Series 2

This series was more enjoyable I actually found myself laughing at a few of the jokes and getting used to the characters. The group felt more confident and there was a lot more chemistry between them. My favourite episode of the series was ‘The one with the Prom video’,  to see the characters when they were younger was hilarious but it also added depth to the ‘story’. Ross and Rachel’s relationship was a high point of the series, however knowing that there was eight more series to get through meant that it wouldn’t last.

 

Series 3

This is where I started enjoying it a lot more and it didn’t feel like a chore at all. I enjoyed watching it and it had some interesting characters such as Frank Buffay. It also took the cast out of the usual apartment into other places such as the beach house – this helped to keep things fresh. At this point, the dynamic between the characters is at a high. This series gives one of the famous quotes from Ross ‘We were on a Break’, yes spoilers Ross and Rachel split up and I did find it quite sad. So maybe now I can understand the Ross hate, only a little though. The best episode is the one with the football.

 

Series 4

This season was great, the characters are really developed and the ideas are fresh. The whole thing with Phoebe and her surrogate pregnancy is an interesting topic for a show to handle in the 90s. This series sees the introduction of the most hated character, Emily who Ross quickly falls in love with and they rush into a marriage. This is where Monica realises, she really wants to get married after trying on wedding dresses – I thought this was a huge change of character from series 1. Here is also where I actually found myself laughing along with the laugh track, possibly because I have really got to know the characters. The series ended with Ross and Emily getting married and Ross saying Rachel’s name instead of Emily when taking the vows. At this point I actually gasped, I was not expecting it at all but I could not believe it, it was very well done. The best episode ‘The one with Ross’s wedding’.

 

Series 5

About 100 episodes in and I am really enjoying friends, each season gets better and better.  This season was very much focused on the secret relationship Monica and Chandler are having after the London trip for Ross’s wedding. They don’t want anyone to know and so try to keep it a secret, except Joey finds out and it proves very difficult for him to keep a secret. But I would say this is friends at its most popular. Joey gets an acting gig in Vegas and so they all go to visit. This is were Monica and Chandler think they should start making their relationship serious but they are unsure so they roll a dice to decide their fate. Chandler is by far one of the best characters and, unlike Ross he is impossible to hate. Another funny scene is where Ross and Rachel – who are on good’ish’ terms after their break up – share a hotel room get very drunk and then get married in Vegas. Honestly the best episode of the season and probably so far is ‘The one in Vegas’. Also the ‘One with the Cop’ due to the phrase PIVOT shouted by Ross as he tries to get his sofa up the stairs.

 

Series 6

This is a slower season from the rest, probably to let the audience catch up with everything that has been going on. Ross and Rachel didn’t realise they got married and Rachel instantly wants a divorce but Ross does not want to be ‘that guy’ with three failed marriages, a running joke from this point in the series. Joey gets back on Tv with his show Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. and Ross starts dating one of his students, Elizabeth after he gets a job as a university lecturer. This is where I lost all faith in Ross, yes he is funny and slightly relatable but he just does stupid things that you know won’t benefit him. However, it does lead to some great scenes with Elizabeth’s dad played by Bruce Willis who also falls in love with Rachel, and this leads to some awkward dinner scenes, which I found hilarious. Chandler and Monica have problems as Chandler wants to propose but he wants to keep it a secret so he tries to convince Monica he is not interested in Marriage. This leads Monica back to her old boyfriend Richard, I really felt for Chandler as it was going so well and I was cheering him on to put things right. Luckily, he does and he proposes in quite an emotional scene. The best episode ‘The one where Paul’s the man’.

 

Series 7

This is for now where my journey ends, with Chandler and Monica getting married. It has been a rollercoaster so far, and the characters have changed a lot from series 1 and the show is a lot more enjoyable. Series 7 gives us more great episodes but I worry that it’s getting to the point where everything has already been done, which makes me a little worried for the next 3 series. My favourite episode ‘The one with the Holiday Armadillo’.

 

I was wrong about friends, my British humour has warmed to the American style of friends and I am looking forward to what happens in the end.