Why “Friends” is still an icon today, over 20 years later


By Alison Tobin

You turn on the television in the late evening as you are settling down for the night and you are delighted (but not surprised) to find that “Friends” is on. You find yourself singing along to the extremely catchy theme song and even clapping along, too. Not only was this show loved when it first aired on TV, but it has held its popularity even to this day, over 22 years later. The show has won 69 Golden Globes awards from the late 1990s to early 2000s. “Friends” is such a classic, and is one of the most successful sitcoms ever produced.

“Friends” first aired in 1994 and reruns having been airing ever since, even streaming on Netflix as of January 1, 2015. Today Show writer Randee Dawn says in an article titled ‘Friends’ ended 12 years ago, but it’s still one of TV’s most popular shows, “While the original series had over 15 million viewers every season, the syndicated reruns draw 16 million weekly viewers!” The classic show has thus become even more popular long after its end!  The already uber popular show continues to pick up even more fans because of its timeless stories that make people nostalgic, they’re relatable, and they demonstrate the importance and power of friendship.  


“Friends” makes people nostalgic about the time when this show took place: before the era of social media and the internet. Often times 20-something-year-olds wish they were 20-something at the same time that the six characters in “Friends” were. They long and wish for this because of how people now are so focused on their cell phones and lack a lot of the interpersonal communication that the friends experience in the show. Yes, we do still hang out with our friends (especially in our college dorms), but it is very different. We want the experience of sitting on the orange couch with our best friends without the annoying distractions of our cell phones. Related to that, the show gives its viewers a refreshing innocence that we do not really get in the world that we live in today. In the social media world we experience a lot of pressures such as body image and the pressures to be “perfect” and “happy” (or at least seem it). We can be exposed to things that affect our mental health and make us feel that we are not living our lives correctly. “Friends” strays away from this and does not have swearing or nudity shown. While we often can’t escape these pressures in our lives today, it is refreshing to not be exposed to it in this show.

The six friends in the show represent friendships that we want, and they are not only  relatable, but they also feel real. I even bet that most people have compared themselves to them and have even tried to figure out who is who in the friend group. Rachel is the princess of the group who is spontaneous and also a lovable sweetheart, Ross is the awkward and geeky one, Joey is immature and ignorant at times (but in a funny way), Chandler is the nervous and sarcastic one who always needs approval from his friends, Monica is the OCD one who is obsessed with excessively cleaning and organizing, and Phoebe is the weirdo who doesn’t care what people think and is always positive (Evidence: a perfect example is Smelly Cat). Phoebe is a complex character who had a hard life growing up, yet she is always positive about situations, and that makes her character inspirational and motivational to people.

The struggles and hardships that each character endures also feel very real. Even from the simplest little issues like Ross leaving his teeth whitening on for too long before a date causing them to be blindingly white, Joey being sold the V volume of the encyclopedia and being excited to learn about volcanos, or Chandler being insecure when people don’t laugh at his jokesUnknown-2 are all real things that can and do happen to people. But let’s not forget the serious ones like Ross and Rachel’s relationship as a whole (this video best sums up their relationship). The characters also go through real friend struggles together. They get mad at each other but in the end they are still there for each other and are still best friends that everyone hopes to have in life. It’s important to note that the show is particularly popular among 20 year olds because the characters are going through the same kinds of struggles, including low incomes or confusing relationships. It is amazing that even though the times have changed from over 20 years ago when the show was created, yet “Friends” still resonates with everyone who watches it.

The show stresses the importance of friends, which is something that young adults need to hear today. Michelle Davies from dailymail.co.uk pointed out in her article Friends for ever: Why we’re still loving the hit TV show 20 years on  that sitcoms before “Friends” were mainly about families. It is a great thing that “Friends” did by showing the importance of friends in our lives. Davies says, “The message that our friends count more than family when we’re young adults is still a powerful one.” The struggles that we go through at that age are most of the time best endured with our friends and with their help. It is a time when we are all growing and learning and it is best to do that in the company of other people who are doing the same thing.

Overall, I haven’t met many people who absolutely hate the show “Friends.” It has become an obsession among college students especially since it was released on Netflix. We all want to be just like them and we all really connect with the characters. It is great to be able to see the characters going through their young adult years and connecting it to our own. It even gives us hope that everything in the end will work out okay and our friends will be there to pick us up along the way.



2 thoughts on “Why “Friends” is still an icon today, over 20 years later

  1. This article was written extremely well and I definitely have to agree with you about the fact that “Friends” is a show that teaches values of friendship while also showing the true realities of everyday life. Most of the time everyone gets along in the show but I think it is almost refreshing when they have struggles because then viewers are able to resonate with the characters better. I think every group has at least a Rachel or Joey for that matter. Out of all of the characters though, Phoebe is the one who brings light onto all situations and always finds the positive within the negative experiences that they all face. Overall, everyone needs a good group of friends and who is better than the cast of “Friends” to help teach viewers what it means to truly be a friend?


  2. -Tyler Mauriello
    This article I thought was written very well and as a person who watches ‘Friends” still to this day, this show relates to how friends should be. Phoebe brings the positive spin to every situation and they all are there for each other. I like how used statistics to back up your argument about how the show is still popular even though the first episode aired in 1994 because some of the Thanksgiving episodes, where they have the touch football game, how Ross, Joey, and Chandler show up late to Thanksgiving dinner because they went to a hockey game. It really relates to real live situations and how friends are there for one another.


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