I’ve been sharing my impressions of Friends after watching it from start to finish for the very first time. You can read observations on the show as a whole in Part 1, and Joey vs Ross in Part 2. This week I’m writing about the girls.
I don’t quite connect with Rachel. Excellent analyses of this character have already been written. I’m only here to share impressions. I don’t have any major complaints about her. I think she’s well-written, and I get why other people love her, I just…eh. Maybe the well was poisoned by decades of hearing people gush about Jennifer Anniston, whom they saw as the sweet, respectable, safely feminine girl-next-door worthy of all good things in a way I felt they didn’t see me. That I found Rachel the least relatable character and Ross the least appealing, yet still got sucked into their trainwreck of a love story and cried at its happy ending, is a testament to how great Friends‘ writing and showrunning was.
Phoebe is everything. Remember I said I had seen a few nonconsecutive seasons before while I was bedridden and binging whatever daytime basic cable had to offer? Phoebe was the one character whom, even without the context of a greater arc, I immediately liked. I would happily watch a show that was just about Phoebe. I could relate to her Weird Girl vibe so much, and I love how she still fits seamlessly into this kind of basic friend group and ends up in a stable marriage on her own terms.
Monica is my cinnamon roll. I will protect her from her garbage family with my life. Plenty has already been written about how the fat-shaming in Monica’s story doesn’t hold up today, but modern shows are still putting skinny actresses in fatsuits to contrast unacceptable and acceptable versions of their bodies, and it was as cruel then as it is now. The difference is that, thanks to the internet, people have a more accessible platform to point out its cruelty.
Beyond all that, I really like Monica for all the things that annoy the other characters about her. I like how hyper-organized she is, and how she knows exactly what she wants and goes after it according to a perfectly itemized and cross-referenced plan. Her competitive spirit is awesome and hilarious. And who wouldn’t want to spend a couple nights at Hotel Geller?
I guess it makes sense that I like Monica so much, because out of all the Friends…
I am Ms. Chanandler Bong. It’s taking me forever to type out this paragraph because I can’t stop laughing. As much as I related to Phoebe, the Weird Girl, Chandler Bing is the Weirdest Girl. Expressing all emotion through snark? Check. Torn between drives for creativity and stability? Check. Allergic to sentimental attachment? Check. But paradoxically wants to find a soulmate and never have to go through the ordeal of falling for a new person ever again? Double check. On a more serious note, I think if I had been born fifteen years earlier, I would have had hang-ups about my bisexuality into my late 30s similar to Chandler’s.
It’s hard to wrap this up because there’s so much more I could write about Friends. And again, I can’t really even say I loved it. But I do understand now why this show and its ensemble are so iconic, and why people are still watching, quoting, and analyzing it over 25 years after it began. I’ll never know how I would have felt about the show if I had followed it as it aired. As is, a Netflix binge was a fun way to experience these friends’ journey into the new millennium and to look back on my own.