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Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to Friends. No, no one should stop watching reruns when there’s nothing else worth doing – it’s not like you can avoid them, anyway. And no, that’s not a cover-up that it’s a bad show that no one should find out, or rediscover, ever again. It is about speech; the constant dredging of the 1990s Thursday night sitcom every few months to re-examine its merits and shortcomings. Friends is a good show. However, it is not necessary to trigger so many conversations.
Much of this is streaming fault. When Friends hit Netflix a few years ago, it was discovered by a whole new generation of viewers – digital natives who turned it into memes and jokes in a way that Gen X who grew up with it wouldn’t. never did. It was fun for a while, but then the show got so popular it became a loot box in continuous wars. In the end, Netflix lost it HBO Max, the streaming service which, since yesterday, also hosts Friends: Reunion, a 90-minute special devoted to watching actors relive everything the Internet has been going through for five years now.
Well, most things. If there is one thing Friends: Reunion missing, it’s a substantive conversation about Friends. The reunion special was, apparently, created to capitalize on the show’s resurgence and attract HBO Max subscribers, but in addition to the BuzzFeed memes and quizzes, the talk on the show highlighted its shortcomings: its lack of racial diversity, his less than stellar treatment of queer issues, his recurring jokes about Monica’s weight. None of these things are discussed here; although there is a somewhat awkward segment full of people from all over the world talking about how much they love the show while avoiding the fact that many weren’t featured on it.
It might be a lot to ask of a touchy TV show hosted by everyone’s biggest fan, James Corden, but if there was a reason to keep talking about it Friends, that would be all. (And really, it’s possible to have a discussion that Friends was progressive for his time and use that as a sign to see how much things have changed.) Instead, Friends: Reunion involved a lot of cameos (Lady Gaga singing “Smelly Cat”! Justin Bieber for some reason!) and not surprisingly confessions (David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston did crush on top of each other! People hated Marcel the monkey!), Which amounts to a send off rather than just a celebration.
It is as it should be. Nostalgia took many people through the lockdowns of Covid-19 and the isolation that followed. Watch a show like Friends not only reminds people of a time when lounging in cafes and sharing beers was possible, it also reminds them that they once watched Friends during less stressful times. Friends: Reunion himself was delayed by Covid, and now that he’s here it reminds us that sometimes it’s okay to honor a beloved thing and move on.
That’s all I’m asking: move on. It’s one of the big ironies (there’s a ’90s idea for you) that the streaming wars have both sparked a massive influx of new original content. and led dozens of people to review the old stuff. The same thing that happened with Friends also happened with Office, and judging by my Twitter timeline this is currently happening with The nanny. It’s great – every generation should be able to rediscover classics like Crazy of you, Good time, or, the original Friends, Living single. But the issuance of Friends: Reunion must point out that there is very little, if anything, left to say about this show. Courtney Cox, who played Monica, all but acknowledged this during the reunion. “This will be the last time we will be asked about the show as a group,” she said. “We’re not going to do it again in 15 years.” And if they don’t talk about it, neither should anyone else.
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