25 years of Friends: Looking back on the iconic sitcom

Four claps, ten seasons, 236 episodes and 25 years later, NBC’s “Friends” has remained one of the most popular and relatable sitcoms in the world. Available on Netflix until the end of this year, the show has gained popularity among teens and young adults all over the world.

“Friends” first aired on Sept. 22, 1994, and ended on May 6, 2004. Its 25th anniversary was celebrated with a “Friends” pop-up store in New York. Several episodes also aired in select theaters, collaborations with many companies including Lego and AT&T were formed and a new “Friends” application with stickers, wallpapers, trivia and recipes from the show was released.

Math Department Chair and teacher Reuben Silberman was a junior in high school when the show aired. He commends the show’s writers for taking a standard plot about six friends in their 20s and crafting a sitcom that wasn’t simply funny, but one that also showed developing relationships.

Silberman is reading a book about the show called “Generation Friends” by Saul Austerlitz, his best friend from college. In the book, Austerlitz writes about how important it was to get the casting for “Friends” just right.

“I think it’s the perfect cast,” Silberman said. “Once the show-runners saw those cast members they were like, ‘Yeah, this is exactly the person who’s going to bring this to life.”

While Silberman has watched most of the show, middle school English teacher Abigail Rothstein has only watched a few episodes. Rothstein said she is able to relate to characters who figure out how to be adults after college.

“You talk to anyone and they love [the] show and I think it adds such a nice kind of nostalgic good feeling … for people who either watched the show as it came on air or people younger than that who watch it on Netflix,” Rothstein said.

Silberman said he thinks the show is trendy now because “it really helps you sort of look forward to being that age.”

Rothstein agrees with Silberman that the show provides an idealistic version of what it’s like to be in one’s 20s.

“I live in an apartment and my apartment does not look like that, my social life does not look like that all the time,” Rothstein said. “So there are parts that I’m like, ‘This is way fabricated and over-embellished.’”

Still, it’s a fantasy that many teen viewers find appealing, including sophomore Rebecca Bender. She was hoping to visit the Central-Perk-themed pop-up store in New York but didn’t find time to go, despite how excited she was about it.

“I think that they did a really good job casting it and the characters are really similar to the actual people and it made it so much more realistic and entertaining to watch,” Bender said. “It just built up this legacy and that’s what makes it so iconic.”

This story was featured in the Volume 37, Issue 3 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on November 21, 2019.