We are hugely obsessed with Friends. Ellyn refused to watch the show in the 90s because her younger sister was into it, and so by default it wasn’t cool. She thought it was especially stupid that her sister tried to find the real Central Perk during a weekend trip to New York when they were kids. But she got into it by season 10, and then bought earlier seasons on DVD and can’t get enough. Miriam was a little late to the game too, seeing as she grew up without a TV (more on that later), but caught on one night during a very boring trip to Europe with her grandmother, and never looked back. In fact, while Miriam was sick all weekend, all she did was watch Friends. An entire season to be exact. She thinks it’s the sixth time she’s watched it, but it could also be the seventh.
You could argue that the humor is always fresh, the characters are dynamic, that few shows manage to sustain ten years of mostly a-plus story lines–and that is all true. But the reason we love it so very much that we’d risk our friendship in a nasty round or two of Friends trivia is because, very simply, we identify with the characters (OK, mainly Monica) and nearly all the episodes. Or at least the following five:
1) The One With George Stephanopoulos. Don’t get us wrong, we love our families, but traditional they are not. Just like Rachel, we have both ventured out of our safety nets and into the terrifying world of New York City and wondered what the hell our plans were only to be comforted by the amazing group of friends-turned-family we found by drinking wine and playing Twister (or something like that). You get our drift.
2) The One Where Heckles Dies. Ellyn’s real-life Mr. Heckles lived below her first apartment out of college in Hoboken. He had a stick, just like Heckles. He banged it against her ceiling constantly, even if they were tiptoeing. Only instead of dying and leaving them a mess they took him to court for harassment. Miriam’s real-life Mr. Heckles didn’t turn up till she moved to LA, and it turned out he’s a she. As in the crazy old lady who lives above her and kept coming downstairs and circling around her house-warming party guests in her pajamas and holding a blankie. Also, every time Mrs. Heckles walks by her dining room window she stops and stares inside to see what Miriam and Bryan are doing. It’s creepy.
3) The One With Five Steaks and an Eggplant. When Miriam first started out as an assistant at Conde Nast, she made $25K plus overtime. So she moonlighted. As a book researcher, a hostess at Joe’s Pub, babysitter, you name it. Which still meant that she had to go to expensive girl birthday dinners and split the tab seven ways. Fortunately, those birthday dinners got old for all of her friends, fast. Ellyn works in media, which doesn’t equal money, but so do most of her friends. For her last birthday “dinner” they had margaritas and guac and skipped the meals. They leave the expensive dinners to their sales reps with corporate cards, and choose more affordable venues for special friends events.
4) The One Where Underdog Gets Away. Like Monica, we get excited to host parties and dinners, then plan every last detail. Instead of being excited about her Halloween party over the weekend, Ellyn made lists of her lists, stressed about sleeping arrangements, and spent the day of the party making multiple dishes for the guests. Except once the party started, she was so tense she ended up drinking more than anyone else and passed out early, as in went to bed while twenty people were still hanging out in her living room. The funny thing is that everything turned out fine, when she wasn’t trying to control it. Miriam’s best friends call her Planskovsky and leave everything from dinners to Secret Santas to her to plan. They’re no longer surprised when things don’t go her way and she throws a tantrum. For her housewarming party this month, she let Bryan pull the Monica and do all the work–and she pulled a Chandler and just did what he told her to do. And it worked out great. Apart from Mrs. Heckles, that is. Moral of the story…maybe Ellyn and Miriam need to give up Monica’s driver’s seat once in a while.
5) The One With the Kips. When Monica and Chandler get into the first fight in their romantic relationship, Chandler assumes that means it’s over. Ellyn thought the same thing when she left Shaun in a restaurant because he was laying on the seat. It was a hot day, no one was really in the restaurant, but he was acting really weird and she just wanted him to sit up like a normal person. He wouldn’t so she left and walked around the streets crying to her mom. Later that night they laughed about it, because it was actually ridiculous. When Miriam and Bryan first started dating, any time Bryan messed up, Miriam would give him explicit directions on how to fix it. Like Monica, Miriam understood that people in healthy adult relationships fight–but that it was just easier for both of them that way.