Even though it’s been 25 years since the show first aired on NBC, Friends still remains one of the most well-known American television sitcoms of all time. With the relatable and beloved characters, interesting plotlines, intricate yet humorous writing, and a satisfying ending, this show has gained a great number of fans from all over the world. In its final two seasons, the actors who played the six main characters were paid a $1 million per episode. The show still earns Warner Bros. $1 billion in re-run revenue annually.
When Friends was first introduced to the world in the 1990s, it soon became more than just a sitcom for young people; it was a major part of many people’s lives, with “The Rachel” haircut becoming a widespread trend.
However, when Friends first came to Netflix, millennials expressed strong disapproval of the show, as it included many elements that were considered funny in the 90s but are now understood to be offensive. Friends has been critiqued for fat shaming, sexism, homophobia, and the overall lack of racial representation.
Why has Friends become so popular among Gen Z in recent years? Why was Netflix willing to pay Warner Bros. $100 million for streaming rights of the show through 2019?
Today, the world is changing rapidly, and people’s responsibilities have only been increasing. For teenagers, it’s the stress from their workloads, be it homework, exams, or college preparation. Sometimes it’s daunting having to face the real world, so watching Friends is a good distraction, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Moreover, the lives of these on-screen characters are perhaps the lives people yearn to have, one where they never have to worry about “adult” things like rent and jobs. Friend’s showcased the carefree lives of people who did not have a plethora of issues to concern themselves with.
Despite the unrealistic representation of the lives of young people living in New York City– spacious apartments and lots of free time to spend with friends– many viewers can relate to the characters. Their personalities, flaws, difficulties and the dynamics in their circle of friends endears viewers to the characters and may explain the show’s continuing popularity.
Looking beyond its flaws, Friends may bring hope to its young viewers by giving its main characters happy endings. Despite leaving Netflix by the end of this year, Friends will always be loved by its fans, be it those from Generation Z or nostalgic adults looking to relive parts of their childhood.
Copyright Crystal Le 2019