Like many twenty-somethings, I was super stoked when Netflix added all ten seasons of “Friends.” Of course, I had to watch all of them to see if the show was as awesome as I remembered or if, like so many things from the 90s, I was going to be horribly disappointed.
The show was possibly more awesome than I remembered but I noticed that my perceptions of the characters changed from my initial viewing.
Then: I thought Rachel was AWESOME. If given the opportunity, I would’ve renamed the show “Rachel and Friends.” She was cool, she was pretty, and she had the best outfits of anyone on the show.
Now: Watching again as an adult, I would’ve been fine if Rachel had been absent from 90% of the show. She’s the special kind of annoying to where if Facebook had been around, she would’ve posted vague statuses complaining about how hard her life. Then, when Monica or Ross would comment to ask what’s wrong, she’d reply with something like, “Oh my god, that’s personal! I don’t want to talk about it!”
Then: Ugh, Rachel could do so much better! He’s whiny, needy, and so desperate. Plus there was the incident with the copy girl.
Now: Ross was the Ted Mosby of the 90s. He just wanted to be in love and have the white picket fence fantasy. Unfortunately, he marries Carol, who leaves him for a woman; Emily, who is just kind of awful; and Rachel (briefly), whom he believes to be the love of his life but is so irritatingly non-committal and only wants him when someone else does, too. Ross is also the first (and only) of his group of friends to earn his PhD and he actually got a career in his desired field right after college graduation.
Yeah, I’m a little jealous, what of it?
Then: Neurotic, uptight, and annoying, Rachel could totally find a better sidekick but isn’t it the nature of sidekicks to be a little lame to accentuate the coolness of the hero?
Now: Monica Gellar is my soul twin. I am Type A, neurotic, and I’m envious of Monica’s cleaning skills. I aspire to reach her level of OCD.
I’m probably biased because of how much I connect with Monica’s character on a personal level, but she’s also one of the more responsible characters on the show. Aside from the episode when she splurges on the really expensive boots that hurt her feet, she’s pretty financially responsible and she’s much more pragmatic than her counterpart, the impulsive Rachel. She, like Ross, yearns for the white picket fence fantasy and she eventually finds that with Chandler but she endures fertility issues, making her relatable and very sympathetic.
Then: Honestly, I didn’t think that much of him other than he was obviously the funny one. And he was responsible for the constant resurgence of Janice.
Now: Sure he has intimacy and commitment issues, but Chandler is one of the most supportive and accepting characters on the show as well as the kindest. Think of how he supports Joey: his best friend wants to be an actor and although at times Chandler doubts Joey’s ability to be successful, he pays Joey’s rent, pays for acting classes, and basically funds the pursuit of Joey’s dream. Admittedly, he does some shady things when it comes to women such as pretending to move to Yemen but when it comes to Monica, he does everything he possibly can to make her happy. I also have a lot of respect for the way he quits the job he hates, despite his financial success, so that he can pursue something that makes him happy. That took some courage that I didn’t know Chandler was capable of.
Then: I didn’t get Phoebe. She was weird, her songs were bad (exception: “Smelly Cat”), and she never seemed like she was actually part of the conversation. I always had the urge to grab her by the shoulders and shout, “EARTH TO FAIRY PRINCESS!”
Now: Phoebe is a goddamn genius. By being weird, she’s able to get away with saying pretty much whatever she wants without there being any sort of repercussions. While watching the show a second time, I also noticed several moments throughout the series where she pretends to be way dumber than she actually is in order to get away with stuff.
I’m also a little bit jealous of Phoebe’s confidence. She is who she is and she’s freaking awesome, thanks for asking. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her (remember how she runs?) and isn’t going to pretend to be someone she’s not . . . unless her husband, Crap Bag, points out that changing your name to Princess Consuela Banana Hammock isn’t a great idea.
Then: Funny, a little dumb, but still entertaining.
Now: Funny, a little dumb, but still entertaining. Some things never change.
I will say, I’m impressed with the way Joey continues to pursue acting despite the mountain of setbacks he encounters. As another individual trying to make a living in a competitive, creative field, Joey deserves props for sticking with it no matter how many times he hears the word “no.”
Then: “OH MY GOD, WHY IS SHE BACK?!”
Now: Janice might be one of my favorite TV characters ever. Her voice and laugh crack me up but it’s not just her hilarity that I love. While so many other characters on the show are so reserved in their emotions, Janice loves totally and completely. She loves Chandler enough to promise to wait for him when he “moves to Yemen” and even though they’re not together anymore, she doesn’t harbor any animosity towards Chandler or the rest of the gang–despite how they’ve treated her. Janice doesn’t have a mean bone in her body and continues to stay upbeat and optimistic no matter what happens.
Oh god, I just realized I want to be a little more like Janice.