Meet the ‘Friends’ 20 Years Later

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10 years after its end, 'Friends' still offers great laughs and memories.

By Katie Clem and Pablo Roa

In an ever-growing entertainment world, TV shows can be viewed at the touch of a finger. It is often difficult for people to single out a show that has made a difference in their lives. However, for many CHS students, no show has been quite as influential as the 1990s sitcom, Friends, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

For 10 years between 1994 and 2004, millions of people from around the globe tuned into NBC every Thursday night to watch Friends, the hit TV sitcom that followed the lives of Monica and Ross Geller, Rachel Green, Chandler Bing, Phoebe Buffay and Joey Tribbiani, as they struggled with work and various relationships.

Throughout its 10-year run, Friends not only won six Primetime Emmy Awards, but also influenced the lives and cultures of many of its fans. From the world-wide adoption of Jennifer Aniston’s hair, also known as “The Rachel,” to the iconic stage of the Central Perk coffee house, the show’s influence went far beyond the confines of TV screens.

While it has been 20 years since its debut and a decade since its finale, Friends is still recognized by many to be one of the greatest shows of all time, a continued trend-setter and an inspiration.

“It definitely is prominent today,” senior Abby Means said. “It captures the attention of so many different generations. I think this makes it prominent in any era.”

Though not known at the time, Friends became one of the first shows to portray a change in the young adult lifestyle. Before this time, most television shows like Full House and The Cosby Show focused on the nuclear family as the central unit. With Friends, viewers see things like casual romantic relationships, homosexuality and female dominance in the workplace as daily occurrences.

“I think the show showed people what it was like to be different, and that it wasn’t a bad thing,” Means said. “It showed homosexual couples creating a loving family which, especially in the 90s and early 2000s, was a huge issue. Instead of avoiding the topic, Friends embraced it and took a side.”

Every show, however, has its secrets, and Friends is no exception. Here are some things you might not know about the show:

  1. The writers were originally going to have Chandler be gay, but decided against it after the first season.
  2. At the same time that Friends debuted, Lisa Kudrow was already playing the character Ursula on NBC’s Mad About You. The producers decided to write in Ursula as Phoebe’s twin sister to create a crossover between the two shows.
  3. The writers did not initially intend for there to be a Ross and Rachel romance, but, instead, a love story between Monica and Joey.
  4. The show was originally called Insomnia Cafe. It was then renamed Friends Like Us, and then Six of One before becoming Friends.
  5. Gunther was not supposed to be a central part of the show, but ended up appearing in 185 episodes.

Though these things were not initially intended to be a part of Friends, they all make up what viewers love most in the show.

“I love the characters’ interactions,” senior David Fitzgerald said. “They did a perfect job putting a group of people together who can get themselves into hilarious situations. Also,

the show has its serious parts to it where you can feel for and laugh with the characters.

While fans can still enjoy the antics of Ross, Rachel, Joey, Monica, Chandler and Phoebe on TV, the actors who portrayed them for 10 years have moved on to bigger and better things.

Courteney Cox, who played the control freak Monica Geller, came into Friends as the most famous of the six and later went on to star in many shows, including Cougar Town. David Schwimmer, who played the adorkable paleontologist Ross Geller, later went on to star in the box-office hit Madagascar.

Lisa Kudrow, the actress who played the quirky Pheobe Buffay, and Matthew Perry, the actor who played the always-sarcastic Chandler Bing, both went on to have successful careers in film and television.

Matt LeBlanc, who played the playboy, struggling actor Joey Tribbiani, continued his role in the spin-off series Joey and acted as himself in the show Episodes, which garnered him a Golden Globe Award.

Jennifer Aniston, who claimed fame playing the spoiled, yet loveable Rachel Green, became the most well known of the six by the series finale. She is best known for starring in many romantic comedies, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.

These six actors, along with the excellent quality of writing, touched many people over the years.

“I take half of my jokes from there,” senior Daniel Espinoza said. “It makes me so happy when I feel sad because the type of humor found in this show isn’t like any others. It’s a show where I truly laugh out loud.”

Social studies teacher Christopher Forney, who graduated from college not long before the show’s 1994 debut, says he likes the show because it related to his life at the time it aired.

“I lived in a group house, so I feel like the show to a certain degree mirrored my situation,” Forney said.

Forney also says he is not surprised that Friends remains prominent today. Forney, who claims he had a crush on Pheobe while the show aired, believes the show does a good job at appealing to today’s young generation, despite the fact that it first aired two decades ago.

“When I was your age, Star Trek — the original series — was airing reruns, so it seems like a natural phenomenon that Friends is still popular,” Forney said. “It is relatable to the younger generation.”

While it has been 20 years since the show debuted, Friends remains influential in today’s society and in the CHS community. The show has influenced many lives and has taught everyone that, even when life is hard, good friends “will be there for you.”