Saturday, 3 April 2010


by David Crane and Marta Kauffman

I never paid much attention to Friends when the series was originally aired. It was not until last Summer when, after watching several episodes on the Danish TV (with Danish subtitles and, I have to add, with Danish beer), Friends actually “clicked” with me. It is difficult to say why though.

One of the secrets of good comedy is to know when to stop. It would be so much better if Friends lasted five years instead of ten. In the first couple of seasons, each episode was packed with events. By the mid-series, the show clearly ran out of fresh ideas. All main characters turn thirty but still behave as if they were in high school. Every possible permutation of six people in two apartments was used. And everybody — I mean, everybody, including the remaining four friends — got utterly sick of Rachel and Ross’s never ending “break”.

At least there is some plot development (at the time, I understand, it was an innovation for a sitcom). Nevertheless, anyone who is posing even a minor threat to the homeostasis is mercilessly disposed of. And what with this obsession with “future”? Apparently, it is all fine to have a much younger / much older / non-American / non-white lover, but surely there could be no future with them. In fact, there could be no future with anyone the rest of the coyotes friends disapprove of. It looks like our friends can only accept the future that is indistinguishable from the present. None of them ever could escape the event horizon of their New York existence. In the final episode, Rachel swaps her exciting Parisian future for present (or even past) with ever so annoying Ross. (Why on earth couldn’t Ross move to London or Paris?) Even my favourite character, Phoebe, has sorely disappointed me by turning down David the physicist and, worse still, marrying an incredibly boring Mike.

So what? Friends provide decent entertainment and more than that, they somehow make you care about them and their puny insular world. Of the six leads, David Schwimmer is easily the best actor. However, it is some of the guest stars who make me laugh the most: Marlo Thomas (Sandra “So, what’s new in sex?” Green, Rachel’s mum), Giovanni Ribisi (Frank, Phoebe’s half-brother who loves to melt stuff), Bruce Willis (Paul Stevens, Elizabeth’s dad), Danny DeVito (Roy the stripper) and Hugh Laurie (the guy on the plane).

Still, I am sure there is a scope for at least another episode, à la The One That Could Have Been but more radical. Say, Ross never came back from China; Phoebe, naturally, went to Minsk and became a famous Belarusian folk singer; Monica had a threesome with JCVD and Drew Barrymore and got pregnant; Chandler married one of Joey’s sisters, this sort of stuff. Oh, and Rachel never arrived to Monica’s place but instead got involved with Duncan, formerly gay Phoebe’s ex-husband. Now, could they still be friends?

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