‘Friends’, the Cultural Phenomenon

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Ain C. ('23)

Sitting on my bed watching a repeated episode of Friends on a Sunday morning, never becomes dull.

When Friends first aired in September of 1994, the 22 million viewers instantly became the dedicated followers of Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross, Monica, and Joey. 

Ever since the show has attracted a “cult following” with the comedy being discovered by a new generation of fans on Netflix. There has never been a show like Friends, and I certainly don’t see it ever happening. However, I’m not saying that there has been a lack of attempts made by the TV industry to emulate the success of Friends. Over the years, there have been other very successful sitcoms, such as The Big Bang Theory, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Office, but none of them had the same bond that Rachel, Ross, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, and Joey shared. 

One of the reasons why Friends is a legendary show is because it shows the struggles of early adulthood in a way that is eminently relatable to the younger generation, mostly young-adults in their 20s. This proves that behind the comedy and the culturally significant haircuts(the “shag style” haircut that actress Jennifer Aniston's Rachel Green had, became a cultural phenomenon in 1995), the show continues to be a reminder to live our lives to the fullest.

Although the actors and actresses of Friends initially made, 22,500 dollars every episode, by 2002, their ninth season, their paycheck rose up to one million dollars per episode. Even to this day, recent reports show that they still earn 20-million-dollars a year from reruns and the TV show continues to earn millions of dollars a year for NBC in merchandising deals and syndication revenue.

It is impressive how all of their jokes always crack people up still to this day without being out-dated and cringe-worthy. One memorable joke is in the twenty-first episode of the fifth season of Friends, The One With The Ball, where the guys make fun of Rachel’s 1000 dollar hairless cat:

Another joke that gets me every time is when in the episode, The One Where They All Turn Thirty, Joey has a misconception that Adam’s apples are named individually after an individual, so when he was complaining to Chandler that his bowie was hurting his Adam’s apple, he said “Joey’s apple” instead. Still, to this day, I find this scene very hilarious and I love how it represents Joey’s character awfully well. This is a visual representation of the comical scene: 

As you can see, it is still as humorous as it was two decades ago.  

“Friends” is a cultural phenomenon that never seems to end!


“Entertainment News - Celebrities, Movies, TV, Music.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 Feb. 2014, edition.cnn.com/entertainment.

Friedlander, Whitney. “The 25 Most Relatable 'Friends' Episodes.” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 Aug. 2019, edition.cnn.com/2019/08/16/entertainment/friends-25th-anniversary-memorable-episodes/index.html.

Godwin, Richard. “The Age of Comfort TV: Why People Are Secretly Watching Friends and The Office on a Loop.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 21 Aug. 2019, www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/aug/21/the-age-of-comfort-tv-why-people-are-secretly-watching-friends-and-the-office-on-a-loop.

Pennacchia, Robyn. “Why ‘Friends’ Is Still so Popular.” Quartz, Quartz, 16 Aug. 2019, qz.com/quartzy/1687411/why-friends-is-still-so-popular/.

Raina, Kanksha, and Kanksha Raina. “15 Reasons Why You Should Watch FRIENDS Again And Again.” Storypick, 21 Mar. 2015, www.storypick.com/ill-be-there-for-you/.
“Ratings and Reviews for New Movies and TV Shows.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/?ref_=nv_home.

Still, Jennifer. “15 Years on, Friends Still Makes an Absolute Fortune Every Year.” NewsComAu, NY Post, 8 May 2019, www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/flashback/eyewatering-annual-profit-of-friends-15-years-on/news-story/c44f5393e9be2e921669ccadc6a72bf9.

“The World's Favorite Online Thesaurus!” Thesaurus.com, www.thesaurus.com/.

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