December 4, 2018

"What’s novel about 'Friends,' or what must seem so to a certain subset of New York teenagers of whom so much is expected, is the absence among the six central characters of any quality of corrosive ambition."

"The show refuses to take professional life or creative aspirations too seriously. What does Chandler Bing actually do? I was never entirely sure. In the series’ ninth season he is an advertising intern. On 'Girls' you have writers who are trying to be Mary Karr; on 'Friends' you have actors who want to be on 'Days of Our Lives.' The dreamscape dimension of 'Friends' lies in the way schedules are freed up for fun and shenanigans and talking and rehashing, always. 'In the back of our minds we know it’s unrealistic,' Maggie Parham, a 15-year-old who lives on the Upper West Side, told me. The characters 'have nice apartments and lots of free time but there is something about that perfect lifestyle that is fun to watch,' she said, adding, 'They all work, but they seem to be able to get out of work easily.'... [A 17-year-old girl said] 'All they do is hang out in a coffee shop or a really nice apartment... It’s the ideal situation.'"

From "‘Friends’ Has New BFFs: New York Teenagers" (NYT). That's from 2015, but I'm reading it today because it's linked in a new article in the Times, "Netflix Will Keep ‘Friends’ Through Next Year in a $100 Million Agreement," which notes that "the show has found an especially receptive audience on Netflix, where it became available in 2015."

And here's a New York Magazine article rom 2016, “Is ‘Friends’ Still the Most Popular Show on TV?”
The world of Friends is ­notable, to modern eyes, for what it encompasses about being young and single and carefree in the city but also for what it doesn’t encompass: social media, smartphones, student debt, the sexual politics of Tinder, moving back in with your parents as a ­matter of course, and a national mood that vacillates between anxiety and defeatism...  Which is why you might expect that Friends, like similar cultural relics of that era, would be safely preserved in the cryogenic chamber of our collective nostalgia. And yet, astonishingly, the show is arguably as popular as it ever was — and it is popular with a cohort of young people who are only now discovering it....
I myself am just watching the show for the first time, going at a rate of about an episode a day, and just getting to the end of Season 3.
Between its various syndicated airings, the show still draws a weekly audience of 16 million in the U.S., a big enough viewership to make it a viable hit on current network TV (and that’s not even including streaming)....

Michelle Cerutti, who lives in Florida, has been a Friends superfan since she was a little kid, even though she was only in ­kindergarten when the show first aired. “I’m 27 years old now,” she wrote to me in an email. “This connection has never changed.” For a long time, she would fall asleep to DVDs of the show. “When I was 14 years old, going on 15, I went through depression, fights with my own friends, a roller coaster of emotions,” she writes. “The ONLY thing that kept me from crying were the six New Yorkers that I grew up getting to know.”

More than once, when asked about the appeal of the show, a 20-something quoted back to me an iconic line that Monica says to Rachel in the pilot: “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.” They explain that they’ve adopted the line as a kind of generational motto. Which the line was intended to be, sort of, except for a different generation. No matter — the notion has an enduring appeal, especially given that, for 20-somethings now, the real world seems suckier than ever. “The ’90s were a great time,” says Chris Mustacchio, who is 24, works in New York, and estimates he’s seen every episode of Friends more than five times. Like more than a few people I talked to, he describes habitually falling asleep to the show. “If you think about it, back then there was little conflict. It was pre-9/11. You could smoke on airplanes, you could smoke in restaurants. Bill ­Clinton was in the White House. He was the best president of all time!”...

“Part of the appeal is wish-fulfillment,” says [the show's co-creator Marta] Kauffman of the show’s continued appeal to younger viewers. “And another part of it is because they’re on social media all the time, so I believe they crave human contact. They crave intimacy, and intimate relationships. They’re looking at screens all the time.” The world of Friends is recognizable, yet devoid of today’s most ardent anxieties. On Friends, “in their free time, they all get together in the coffee shop to chat and catch up,” says Stephanie Piko, a 21-year-old fan of the show. “Where nowadays we’ll catch up really quickly, but everyone’s always on their phones. Back then, it’s more of a person-to-person relationship, instead of through technology.”....

I asked Elizabeth Entenman, a 27-year-old Friends fanatic, if you could make a version of Friends about the 20-somethings of today. “No,” she said, “because you wouldn’t find six people doing nothing in the same room.”...

Paulina McGowan, who is 21... says, “It would be awesome to be alive back then, when everything didn’t seem so intense. It just seemed really fun.” 

127 comments:

LYNNDH said...

I am proud to say I have never watched more than 5 mins of the show, ever.

rhhardin said...

Encouraged by Veep, which is wildly funny all the way through, I bought Breaking Bad, which had been praised all over. It seems like a sitcom but not played for laughs; predicaments come up and are resolved or not. Not a bad show but I'm stuck in Season Two, not being inclined to play more; maybe-later status.

It would be nice if there were a series out there that were of good-movie quality. The TV audience isn't perhaps the best audience to encourage it though.

Friends sounds grim to me.

Rob said...

To the characters on "Friends" and to their modern-day BFF's, I say the same thing: "Die, yuppie scum."

Michael said...

How (something...) do you have to be to think that Bill Clinton was the best President ever? I suppose you just have to have been 8 years old at the time.

mccullough said...

The government banned smoking on airplanes in 1988. And the first World Trade Center bombing was on February 26, 1993.

There were over 2,000 homicides in New York City in 1992. The LA Riots were in 1992.

Friends was an enjoyable show but the US want any safer. It’s actually nicer now. Less crime.

Generation X envy is real. We are the last generation not overrun with wimps. Toughen up Millenials.

Bay Area Guy said...

At the time, I thought "Friends" was boring. 6 moderately attractive 20-somethings -- all white-- living together in NYC and occasionally sleeping with each other. Very little drama, very little heartache, very little misery. Good, but that's kinda what we all did back then, and nobody made a show about it.

Now, they would all be bi-sexual, radicalized, woke activists, protesting Trump, protesting the landlord for raising the rents, stuck on their cell phones, accusing each other of sexual harassment and micro-aggressions, and working shitty jobs as Baristas.

So, new found respect for Friends!

Nonapod said...

I've noticed a considerable uptick in both 80s and 90s nostalgia in entertainment in recent years. I mean, there's always been an appetite for the percieved simplicity of the recent past (like Happy Days evoking the late 1950s/early 1960s in the middle of the 1970s), but in recent years this yearning for a past that (probably) never was seems to have become much more prevalent. Ultimately it's just another form of escapism. It's just that there seems to be much more of a desire to escape our modern era that seems so compicated, with all its harsh judgements and expectations from social media.

reader said...

I went into labor during an episode of Friends. It was "The One With Chandler in a Box". FYI we had a boy!


When my son was home for a week at Thanksgiving he had episodes of Friends running all day long on the TV while he worked on projects/homework. From what I understand he does the same thing when he is at school. I believe his favorite character is Joey.

Rory said...

Is Friends a gateway away from intelligent TV? You have the years-long serialization, along with the will they/won't they story line ripped from Cheers. I watched and enjoyed many episodes, but can't think of anything particularly witty in them.

Henry said...

Upper West Side?

SDaly said...

Can anyone here imagine rhhardin laughing, out loud?

JohnAnnArbor said...

The government banned smoking on airplanes in 1988.

But not for the pilots, not then anyway. They were allowed to keep smoking. Better calm nerves than jumpy pilots....

Brian said...

My 14yo daughter binge watches Friends constantly. Episodes of both, over and over again. And The Office too. She'll watch them in one window, while writing a book she's working on in another.

Figure that one out, I certainly can't.

Also here's a humorous take on what a pitch meeting for Friends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqpvaV_xY3U



rehajm said...

My review of Friends:

Bohemian Rhapsody.

- rehajm


SeanF said...

The article, from Ann's excerpts, seems to be talking mainly to people in their 20s. One of my Taekwondo students is 16 and she watches "Friends" all the time.

Ralph L said...

Is this one of those shows where supposed friends run each other down in between lies and scheming, but ends in mush and gush, or is it the reverse?

SeanF said...

Brian posted while I was typing. :) My daughter is almost 15. I don't think she's gotten into "Friends" yet, but she loves "The Office".

rehajm said...

Consider the notion that the audience for the syndicated show is nearly 8 times any CNN audience. If network programming directors cared more about garnering an audience instead of hating Trump or virtue signalling. Friends is nearly PC free fantasy escapism.

How do they afford that fabu apartment?

Two-eyed Jack said...

Rhhardin, forgive my enthusiasm, but Breaking Bad is the most amazing show ever at a macro scale. I think the first season of The Wire had a wonderful season-long story arc, but never thought subsequent seasons went anywhere. Breaking Bad, on the other hand, has an arc covering all of its seasons with development and payoff at a 19th-century novel scale. I cannot think of another such accomplishment.
Moreover, Breaking Bad touches on very important and resonant themes: The fact that you can achieve everything you set out to achieve, but at a cost far greater than you ever could have anticipated; the truth that you may pass something on to the next generation but end up reviled by those you love; the idea that you may have no moral limits, even though you think of yourself as an upright person. This is Macbeth and Lear and Richard III territory. (It could be tightened up, of course, but the same is true of Hamlet.)

Fernandistein said...

"Defrauded of a genuine humanistic education, they [young people] are recognizing the spiritual impoverishment of their crudely politicized culture, choked with jargon, propaganda, and lies.

YoungHegelian said...

I remember seeing a documentary on Indian Call Centers and how some of them would show episodes of "Friends" to the trainees to get them acquainted with American accents & mores.

How successful this was I cannot say.

mockturtle said...

Nothing so corrosive as ambition. Sloth is more acceptable.

Mike Sylwester said...

If New York teenagers want to watch a funny old series, they should watch Moonlighting, starring Bruce Willis and Sybill Shepard

reader said...

Monica's apartment was rent controlled. Also, at one point the characters make fun of the fact that they are sitting in the coffee shop in the middle of the day when they should be at work.

My son is twenty-one and also loves Seinfeld. In fact, when he was in high school he asked me to take him to see Seinfeld in Vegas.

AllenS said...

I never watched a full episode, but weren't all six of them dysfunctional? Is that supposed to be cool? Hip?

Original Mike said...

Blogger LYNNDH said..."I am proud to say I have never watched more than 5 mins of the show, ever."

That's 5 minutes more than I've seen.

Is it on nowadays in Madison?

Biff said...

There's something interesting in the production overlap of Friends (1994-2004) and Sex and the City (1998-2004) and their rather distinct representations of the behavior of NYC singles.

FWIW, I was single, living in Manhattan, and in my late twenties and early thirties during their runs. I saw elements of both shows in my own social circles. It seemed that the model of cynicism and pathological relationships shown in Sex and the City was favored by most of the "sophisticated" NYC-lifers in my crowd, most of whom wouldn't be caught dead enjoying an episode of Friends. Such an unhappy bunch! Friends was much more popular among those who were new to the city or who were just passing through.

Laslo Spatula said...

I read a book about the show a few weeks ago - it dovetails with this essay’s take, especially with younger audiences.

My suggestion for the show’s popularity today (which ties in with what the show is often criticized for now) follows…

Yes, it reflects what seems to be a less “intense” time. As someone mentioned above, “Happy Days” did this in the 70s.

However, I will posit that this was the cultural sweet-spot where a person could be young and painfully self-aware, but with the absence of the hair-shirt Maoism that has come along since its original run.

Are the characters of ‘Friends’ less self-absorbed than millennials are now? I would say (with a broad brush) not really — but they are self-absorbed in a way that does not involve constant ritual self-castigation — and the fear of others’ shunning — for our’s society’s new thought crimes.

They could be gay-positive, but not have to maneuver through the minefield of today’s ‘fluidity’ and gender-norm fear.

They could be non-racist, but not spend hours self-critiquing why all of their friends were white.

While all were no doubt liberal, politics did not consume their lives: the ‘friends’ were pretty much live-and-let-live — something today’s kids have probably never even experienced.

Today’s young audience can see an America that is not so rawly split in half: again, something today’s kids have never experienced.

Not only is ‘Friends’ closer to ‘Happy Days’ than our current environment, it is closer to ‘Leave It To Beaver"...

I am Laslo.

Biff said...

I tried to give Breaking Bad a chance once it was out on Netflix, but my interest started waning early in season 2, which I never finished. (One of the reasons I gave it a try was a friend's insistence that there is a lot of "Walter White" in me. I dunno.) In contrast, I found Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad spinoff, to be much more interesting and entertaining, and I still watch it whenever a new season becomes available.

rehajm said...

Chandler took Barney Rubble’s job.

Biff said...

Laslo Spatula said...
I read a book about the show a few weeks ago - it dovetails with this essay’s take, especially with younger audiences.

My suggestion for the show’s popularity today (which ties in with what the show is often criticized for now) follows…


Your analysis seems absolutely on target to me. I was a grad student at Columbia U when Friends was on, and many of the conversations and debates I had with friends and colleagues would be inconceivable to have today, at least not without a real risk of banishment and bodily harm.

tim in vermont said...

I binged all ten seasons. Suck it h8rs.

Now I am watching "Cheers" and "A Very Secret Service." Tip O'Neill made a brief appearance in Cheers, but you always got the feeling that Reagan would have gotten the same respect.

Hollywood Reporter has a story about how nobody wants to host the Oscars, and their prescription is to lean in on the partisan politics. Not even kidding.

johns said...

I have two daughters who binge-watched Friends in the last few years. I sometimes sat down with them to watch for a while (I couldn't do three episodes in a row, but they could do a dozen, maybe). I find Friends to be science fiction. they must be on another planet. It does not depict any human group at any time past or present. They are apparently a group of beings isolated from families, society or human purpose. Still, it wasn't so hard to watch for a while

tim in vermont said...

I also think that Joey was kind of ambitious, for most Americans, a gig on Days of Our Lives is about 50 times better than our real jobs. He was also kind of louche.

johns said...

"Sex and the city" seems more real, though glamorized. And at least it had the purpose of providing soft porn for people who were much too sophisticated to watch porn. Reminds me of "Fifty Shades". Teen fantasies that are watched by middle-aged women

Ken B said...

Woke culture sucks. It's the worst culture on the planet. Anything else looks good by comparison.

tcrosse said...

There's a BBC show called "Coupling", from 2000 to 2004, to which Friends is often compared. NBC tried a version which sank with all hands.

tim in vermont said...

The most unbelievable thing that happened, spoiler alert... is when Ross didn't take the rent-controlled apartment that had been handed down from his mother to his sister.

Since I watched a lot of it from a hospital bed and convalescing at home, there may be a couple of episodes that I slept through. But I can't watch it anymore.

tim in vermont said...

Nobody ever wanted Joey hooking up with somebody that they cared about.

tim in vermont said...

Ross pulled some shit trying to get tenure.

tim in vermont said...

Ross dated a student and she was the bad guy. What's missing isn't poor behavior, it harsh judgment of their actions. People were always forgiven by their friends who loved them.

johns said...

Tim, Ross was married three times. Wasn't the one to Jennifer Aniston a drunk one or something?

tim in vermont said...

But he always viewed his too quick marriages as something he was ashamed of. So he's forgiven, if occasionally gently teased.

tim in vermont said...

Sorry, I am in a coffee shop doing nothing.

Jim Gust said...

I liked that BBC show "Coupling," a more overtly sexual version of Friends.

Laslo, excellent analysis.

The absence of diversity in Friends is why another show like it will never be made.

Birches said...

Coupling is great.

reader said...

My son also got hooked on The New Girl when it was airing. So today there was a post that took me back to his delivery that started during an episode of Friends. Then also a post on Glamour (I've never been a huge fan) and a post on the show Friends itself.

So to roll my day together...

15 Reasons New Girl Is The New Friends with picture comparisons

johns said...

I tried "Veep", it's well done, but it is not fun to watch because real world craziness makes it pretty lame. Good send-up of dysfunctional politics, for sure.

johns said...

Reader, my girls liked New Girl. I didn't see enough of it to have an opinion.

Karen said...

One Eyed Jack! To me, the great beauty of the overall story arc of Breaking Bad is the persistent slide into the dark side that resulted from that first bad decision. And then it reverberates outward to damage all who come into that orbit. Stunningly realistic about the consequences of sin..

tcrosse said...

All four seasons of "Coupling" are available to view for free on Amazon Prime. Certainly worth a look.

reader said...

I only caught a few episodes of New Girl. My mind went to New Girls after reading the comment above about the lack of diversity in Friends. And the article I linked was from Glamour yea!

My husband, son, and I watched the first episode of Breaking Bad and never went back for more. The show didn't grab them and I only watch shows peripherally whilst reading.

Bay Area Guy said...

Man, I loved "Happy Days" in the 70s! That music from the 50s, teenagers driving cars, eating burgers, trying to find girls, very little melodrama or woke nonsense.

It seemed so pleasant to me at the time. The Fonz was the cool guy, worked in an auto shop, had all the babes,rode a motorcycle no SAT study courses for him!

I remember an entire show devoted to Richie learning how to properly unhook a girl's bra strap. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time -- gave me hope for the future!

bagoh20 said...

It's rare for any fiction TV show or movie to show characters at work. I would expect that few people want to watch people working real jobs. Work is something more interesting in the doing than the watching, and entertainment is mostly to escape our work lives.

I have worked almost nonstop since I was a kid, but I can't really remember working in my early twenties, despite working multiple jobs and long hours at the time. I often loved my work, but I mostly remember the play time, time with friends, and adventures outside of work. My memories are of a time that seems like it was all fun, no work. and no boredom. Although I was constantly broke, it seems like I didn't need money. Now I have plenty of money and it's harder than ever to just have fun. Youth is awesome to live. Maybe it's the stupidity that makes it so enjoyable. Wisdom can be a ball and chain.

wild chicken said...

I just can't get myself to watch any of these shows. They go on and on...I started watching Mad Men but immediately realized I didn't want to commit to however long it would take to get interested.

Maybe it's because I watched sooo much TV as a tween. Sad excuse for a kid's life, it was.

PM said...

Was lucky. Got out of college and into an ad agency for a long time. In the grand scheme of things, the anus of capitalism (props to Kliban). In reality, totally cool, with good money, funny people, lots of travel and tough clients. Never watched "Friends." Had them.

Brian said...

Well said Laslo! Excellent analysis.

stevew said...

Never got into Friends, Seinfeld, etc. We did watch 30 Something when we were 30 something and had young kids. Followed Hill Street Blues. More recent series watched are Justified, Game of Thrones.

stevew said...

And as others have noted, Laslo's analysis rules.

traditionalguy said...

We love to catch a Cable Channel re-run. But to systematically pull up the next episode on Netflix Year seems so scientific. We love to read books from both ends and fill in missing stuff later.; the same with TV Series.

We do agree that Joey and Phoebe seem like real people that we know. The rest of the cast seem semi-real.

ALP said...

Good point, I had not considered that Friends portrays a pre-digital lifestyle. Maybe young people are yearing for a fantasy of 'simpler times' they never lived through like so many generations before them?

ALP said...

Between "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" - very tough to pick the superior show. The latter may be the most interesting show about an attorney ever made.

Leora said...

I've been watching the first few seasons of Hill Street Blues. I was impressed by their realistic and fair handling of sexual harrassment in the workplace and of issues of race and ethnicity in hiring and promotion as well as in law enforcement. I don't think you could be as honest today.

CWJ said...

Laslo as nearly always has a very supportable take on this.

He wrote - "Today’s young audience can see an America that is not so rawly split in half: again, something today’s kids have never experienced."

I still don't understand how today's America came to be. It's perhaps the saddest development of my lifetime.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I came to like Chandler a bit when it was on (in?) syndication, years after it was aired for the first time: .

The opening song told people what to expect and they got it.

That song will be there. For you.

To me, Mark Cuban got it with (I think it was his network or show or something) girls in bikinis traveling.

They laugh and make 'jokes' and are happy! (and fucking gorgeous)

Guildofcannonballs said...

I hate Ross so much it's hard to convey.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I was alw

William said...

I like to binge watch. It saves me the anxiety and unease of channel surfing. I can thus devote my time to the zen state of sitting in a torpor in front of the tv with minimal effort and fidgeting. Does anyone know where you can buy an iron lung? Why should only polio patients be spared the labor of breathing in and out? I'd like to hook up an iron lung to my adjustable bed and high def tv. Perhaps a catheter and feeding tube later down the road.........Another good thing with Netflix and Amazon is that you don't have to watch commercials. If you grew up in the land of ads, this is the most gratifying thing in the world. Also when the show ends with a cliffhanger, you can just plow right through to the next episode. Young people nowadays don't realize how tough we had it.

Mark said...

Friends has always been a horrid, wretched show with no redeeming qualities, every one of the characters -- especially the guys -- totally awful people. Worse yet, there have been so many copycats of that Gen X POS.

Mark said...

Friends was always Hollywood's (via New York) idea of cool.

I never once thought so. Truth -- it was always crap.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Marta Kaufman has real estate in my mind of jealously and envy.

I can't imagine any justification.

She sure has for me though I bet.

William said...

The plus side of watching dumb tv is that pretty soon you start hating yourself, and you move away from the television and pick up a book or rent a Bergman movie.......Friends has a likable cast and the jokes are funny. It's painless to watch. Sometimes you can see Rachel's nipples and that adds visual interest to the witty banter.

Guildofcannonballs said...


Marta Kaufman has real estate in my mind of jealously and envy.

I can't imagine any justification.

She sure has for me though I bet.

12/4/18, 6:06 PM

Mark said...

Friends is another reason why no one should ever wonder why or how #MeToo could happen.

tim in vermont said...

It must be pretty cool to be so certain that there is nothing interesting in Friends. I wish I could be certain about stuff, instead I sometimes find stuff I never expected in odd places.

Mark said...

Can't say that I have ever laughed once at a Friends episode. The premise, the characters and the storylines are all moronic. They were moronic during their original run, back when I was post-college and they are no better now. I guess that would appeal to the Gen-X crowd, but frankly, none of the characters are appealing or funny. I certainly would have none of them as my "friends."

“How I Met Your Mother” may not be the same show as "Friends," but they are in the same neighborhood. And both unfunny for the same reasons, even though they are presented as the epitome of hip and cool.

Clyde said...

"Coupling" was a great show.

Mark said...

Any time I have seen a few minutes of The Big Bang Theory, it has that same stench of Friends about it.

madAsHell said...

Me: Your English is quite commendable. How did you learn English?

Chinese guy: Friends.

glenn said...

Friends had one thing going for it. Watching Jennifer Anniston get hotter and hotter as the years passed.

Bay Area Guy said...

All 3 of the lead female characters in Friends were eminently fuckable. Each one!

You take BART to and from Oakland to SF, you might see 3 fuckable females in a year!

Forgive my coarseness. Please replace "fuckable" with "attractive."

Jupiter said...

"This girl asked that I not use her name because she was in the process of applying to colleges, and in the world as it is, a public statement about an entertainment produced not in the 18th century — a statement a college-admissions officer might find on the Internet and regard as frivolous — is considered perilous."

Jesus. Fuck a bunch of colleges.

Mark said...

All 3 of the lead female characters in Friends were eminently fuckable. Each one!

Well, if you didn't already, you're about the only person in the country who didn't. The characters on that show had sex with a different person practically every episode.

rcocean said...

Unlike "Seinfeld", "Friends"is a chick sitcom. Seinfeld has 4 stars - three of them men. Friends has 3 men, 3 women, & the men are all "Girl Friendly"

rcocean said...

Given how astoundingly popular the show is, I was surprised to learn it only got 1 Emmy for TV Best Comedy.

Guildofcannonballs said...

George Herbert Walker Bush was a Patriot.

rcocean said...

Best USA TV Comedies 80s and 90s:

Seinfeld
Simpsons
Fraiser
Cheers
Newhart
Malclom in the Middle
Buffalo Bill

Guildofcannonballs said...

Is the 2nd one really Herbert?

If so to me that is really actual evidence of Awesome Americaness.

mccullough said...

Mark,

You watched every episode of a show you hated? Have the lambs stopped screaming?

Guildofcannonballs said...

George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st Pres

Guess that sesals it wholly shit/

I AM OCTOSEAL.

YOU AIN'T.

dustbunny said...

Tracy Ullman has a recent show with an episode in which she plays a therapist to a group of overly woke, very depressed people in their twenties. Her assignment for them is to watch reruns of friends and report back to the group. Their reactions correlate closely to Laslo’s analysis.

Rory said...

rcocean said: "Best USA TV Comedies 80s and 90s"

You need Newsradio.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am in the saw 5 minutes here and there crowd, maybe cumuatively less than an hour. I think that a lot of it was the NYC setting. I make it a habit of not watching anything centered in NYC or LA. Esp NYC - unless the location is essential to the plot, such as Blue Bloods. We have over three hundred million people living in this country somewhere besides in these two big cities. My impression of NYC is a dirty filthy pigsty full of rude people. Because of rent control, housing is off the charts expensive. Duh. Saw an article several months ago estimating how much different NYC TV residences would cost, and then compared them to average wages. The result was that most NYC based TV shows have apartments and houses much more expensive than the people in the shows could afford. Which makes suspending disbelief that much harder. Of course, the hardest thing to overcome is that anyone in their right mind would want to live how most everyone, except for the really rich, actually live in NYC, and esp in Manhattan. I can much better identify with people from suburbia or from rural America.

cubanbob said...

CWJ said...
Laslo as nearly always has a very supportable take on this.

He wrote - "Today’s young audience can see an America that is not so rawly split in half: again, something today’s kids have never experienced."

I still don't understand how today's America came to be. It's perhaps the saddest development of my lifetime."

Sadder than the sixties and seventies?

rcocean said...

"I bought Breaking Bad, which had been praised all over. It seems like a sitcom but not played for laughs; predicaments come up and are resolved or not. Not a bad show but I'm stuck in Season Two, not being inclined to play more; maybe-later status."

Breaking Bad is one of the few shows that gets better as it goes along. Of course, I watched it on DVD, and was able to skip through a lot of the boring family stuff. For example, whenever the drippy kid was on, I get pushed FF.

rcocean said...

"You need Newsradio."

that was good. So was WKRP - but those shows don't make my top seven.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Is American fickle? I could make arguments you fucks after having concieved would Christ-like condemn as evil as George Soros or Marx.

Guildofcannonballs said...

So Know One (aka Prof Althouse) told you it was ...

fuck it I'm bored already.

Guildofcannonballs said...

What can you possibly mean by "this way" you fuckin' horrible human that ought be sucking mere Garrison Geilor cock.

FICK OF WhIRe/

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

I just finished watching all of Cheers, in sequential order, which was a new experience. I used to watch it at night in the late 80's early 90's along with MASH and it was funny and soothing before bed. Sort of like what Friends does to the younguns' now I suppose.

@ Tim
There is an episode where Cliff's mom is sells her home, (against Cliff's wishes) and a photo of Reagan is on the wall in the background. As soon as the house starts to cave in, everyone inside rushes out to avoid total collapse. All that's left is the photo of Reagan. Then the photo comes crashing to the ground.

I think the show was well done but they drove it into the ground at the end. As soon as Rebecca and Sam try to have a baby, I stopped watching. Shark, jumped.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

My dislike of friends is all structural.
#1 - the music. The theme song makes me gag. The guitar riffs inserted between the laugh track and the one-liners is a weird distraction. Line -retort - line - laugh-track- guitar. stop. repeat. I cannot get past it.
#2 The characters are all too perfect. Too pretty. Too cute. Whatever.


BUT--The guy who plays Chandler is funny. He could carry the show.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Oh it was a White thing: so okay.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Way

Then nobody aun't/ain't be racist no mo(re).

Ever.

Sssssss.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

I was late to Sex and the City. (no cable/ no HBO) so I rented it. Again, in sequence, which is the best way to get the full soap opera. OMG - I was hooked. I loved that dumb show. I just loved the structure and the characters, and the story. yeah sure- soft porn and Mr. Big. Ok.
Tho - the series has not aged well, imo. I have no interest in re-watching it ever again. Perhaps it's because SJP and Cynthia Nixon are in it.

wildswan said...

We're renovating an old house, a summer place - 1760 - owned through two trusts by about fifteen families having over 100 members ranging from 96 to 2 weeks, from Massachusetts Democrats to ardent Trumpsters, from wokies to prolifers. We all loved being children there and now it has to change since the previous renovation done in 1910 seems dated to everyone born after 1980. The Restorers - it's like a Victorian novel, a large sprawling family panorama with historical overtones. Soldiers who fought in every major American war from the French and Indian to Afghanistan have lived in that house and members of every cause and creed (because the New England Puritans came there before us.)

Guildofcannonballs said...

William Frank Buckley Junior.

He help4d Amerifa elect Reagan.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Us fucks are so crazy we just might work again.

FIDO said...

I always appreciate Althouse telling me about what is and is not substantive, important and subtle and smart entertainment.

FIDO said...

My daughter also likes the Office.

But the part she really loves is the ROMANCE and the CARING and the HEARTBREAK of the two main characters.

I think there is an untapped thirst in women for something like that in their lives of Tinder and being taught that Men are scum by Feminists.

That being said: Dwight was one of the most under appreciated characters. He is awake at 5, exercising, running multiple businesses, owning large buildings, running a farm AND holding a dreary job. Where the hell does he get the energy?

But he is the villain...because he is an asshole. But he was force written that way.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I've never had close to a bad experience when knocking on a door adorned with the mezuzah.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I would have, and to this day still would have, voted Leiberman over Weicker.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Though too many Jews too soon gets you Franken in MN.

Disgusting.

tim in vermont said...

How I Met Your Mother didn’t click for me because the Lothario character, whose name escapes me, was so obviously not really into women, which turned out to be true when he came out. Nobody ever questioned whether Joey really liked women. But I have a rule, if a show is wildly popular, it’s a good show, whether I like it or not.

But I can imagine millennials watching the episode where they make Rachel cut up daddy’s credit cards and support herself as some kind of revolutionary moment.

Yancey Ward said...

"If New York teenagers want to watch a funny old series, they should watch Moonlighting, starring Bruce Willis and Sybill Shepard"

I had not thought of that show in years until just yesterday when I was watching the Netflix series "Maniac" in which Allyce Beasley has a small role- an actress I hadn't remembered seeing in anything since "Moonlighting".

Kevin Walsh said...

I could never identify with shows like Friends or How I Met Your Mother. In my 20s, I worked the graveyard shift at a type shop and rode the mugger-mover home from union Square at 3 AM. No swarms of good-looking women around or large apartments to go home to.

Chanie said...

I lived through Friends' original airing without watching it. I was too cool or smart for it or maybe just slightly under its demo as a highschool freshman when it first came on. I mean, I was aware of it, I saw stray episodes, but Ross/Rachel/would-they/won't-they, ick. I just wasn't gullible enough to care about this thing everybody else was sucked into.

After it was on Netflix for awhile, I finally gave in. Figured, ok let's see what it was all about. At least I'll be able to say I've seen it even if I don't appreciate it the way the ignorant masses did back when.

I've seen it through end to end at least three times in the last year or three years. It's the perfect check out and enjoy kind of TV. Put one (or three) on at the end of the night and just succumb. Some of it is stupid, a not insignificant amount of it is homophobic or not-PC by today's standards, but so much if it is just so sweet and funny. When I'm on a Friends kick, I will watch it every but. It's appointment television in the era of streaming.

Tina Trent said...

If you like Friends, you may like Episodes, starring the Joey actor as himself. With the exception of some jarring sex scenes, it is very good-quality British humor transplanted in Los Angeles.

The show gets its feet after a few episodes. It is funny without being bitter.

Rob McLean said...

“The ’90s were a great time,” says Chris Mustacchio, who is 24, works in New York, and estimates he’s seen every episode of Friends more than five times.

This reminds me of the way I viewed the sixties when I was that age in the late 80s. I later learned the truth: the 60s kinda sucked.

Ann Althouse said...

"I always appreciate Althouse telling me about what is and is not substantive, important and subtle and smart entertainment."

Okay, then let me explain this post, because you may be having trouble. It is not about whether whether the show is great, but about the fact that young people today are watching it avidly and their reasons say a lot about what they feel is wrong with life in America today.

Ann Althouse said...

"Are the characters of ‘Friends’ less self-absorbed than millennials are now? I would say (with a broad brush) not really — but they are self-absorbed in a way that does not involve constant ritual self-castigation — and the fear of others’ shunning — for our’s society’s new thought crimes."

Yes. You can watch the characters on the show and feel longing for that kind of acceptance and love. There's virtually no politics (as far as I've see, the first 3 seasons), and the characters have flaws but almost no shame and they are loved and kept in the fold though their flaws are well known. By today's standards, all 3 men would be hated by the 3 women. They could not be in a solid friends-forever group. Quite the opposite. I think if any of the women wanted to be friends with any of the 3 men, the other 2 women would hate her into stopping. The only question is whether Monica would be allowed to be friendly with her brother Ross. Other than that, the men are unacceptable to the women and the men probably wouldn't dare to try to get along with those women.

Ann Althouse said...

@Chanie

Yes, that's the way I feel. I never stooped to watching it when it was on. But there's something about having the whole thing available to stream through that's very pleasant. It's different when you have to wait a week for a new episode and then there's the gap between seasons. It's sweet to put on the next episode, without commercials, flow through it, and then let it continue to the next episode, if you like.

Each episode begins with a short scene before the credits, so it's very easy to just allow the show to continue, and the feeling of having 6 familiar friends in their familiar coffeehouse (or apartment) is a very relaxing, modest little dream of what life could be.

tim in vermont said...

I guess that I stopped watching Cheers the first time when they replaced Dianne, I will probably do that again, but for now, watching it each day for a half hour is nice.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Chandler is an executive in the IT department of a large organization, probably a big investment firm. That is made clear in one episode were he is shown at work. Clear, that is, if you have ever worked in IT. They use some IT jargon when he is talking to his boss. He has a big office with windows and wears a suit, which shows he is pretty far up the food chain. He is definitely not some lowly cubicle dweller.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Now, they would all be bi-sexual, radicalized, woke activists, protesting Trump, protesting the landlord for raising the rents, stuck on their cell phones, accusing each other of sexual harassment and micro-aggressions, and working shitty jobs as Baristas.

Wasn't that Lena Dunham's show, Girls?

Gabriel said...

Friends is all right--my wife is very fond of it--but I am a big fan of Seinfeld and it annoyed me that they would rip off Seinfeld situations.

It's kind of an interesting writing exercise--here's an episode of Seinfeld, now write it for the characters in Friends. But not one I want to watch.

When it was on TV I watched the first season, and never bothered with it. Many years later I watched the whole thing with my wife.

Leora said...

I was just thinking that the appeal of "The Big Bang Theory" is that it's about 6 friends who hang out and do things together. It also is extremely unwoke - and even sympathetic to the problems of the "unwoke" as when Sheldon encounters problems with his employer's diversity counselor.

dustbunny said...

Rob McLean,in retrospect the sixties seem insane but I was young then and they were great. However being young was imperitive as the decade (especially the latter part) was all about youth. It was a phenomenon and it was fun. I remember everyone I knew dreading the coming of the seventies. We knew the party couldn’t last and we’d have to grow up.

Keith_Indy said...

Leave it to millennials to think that "Friends" wasn't an entirely fictional portrayal of life.