From 1994 to 2004 America tuned in every Thursday night to catch up with their favorite friends: flaky Phoebe, dopey Joey, jokey Chandler, hang dog Ross, OCD Monica, and Rachel, the spoiled princess who started it all by running away from her wedding. More than 10 years later America – and the world – still loves Friends and the sunshiny sweet world where the orange couch is always waiting, and your friends are always there for you.
In her affectionate I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends Kelsey Miller explores the history of Friends and its impact on American culture. This isn’t a trivia book or a glossy photo tribute (in fact, there are no photos) but rather a well-written, funny examination of a low-concept show about twenty-somethings with friends for family that quickly morphed into a phenomenon. Miller introduces the likable cast, who clicked both on and off the show, discusses notable episodes, and analyzes how the cast were able to work as a unit.
Although she is truly a fan, Miller is not blind to the show’s genuine faults. Gay jokes, fat jokes, slut shaming and a glaring lack of diversity (“I’d like for y’all to get a black friend,” Oprah gently chided the cast) were all part and parcel of Must See TV. Miller acknowledges that this was typical of almost all television in the 1990s, but she nevertheless feels that the writers and producers of Friends could have done better.
Despite its faults, Friends remains a beloved part of American culture. As comforting as a bowl of mac ‘n cheese (not to be confused with Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E.), the universal theme of friendship and the genuine warmth of the show still keep us tuning in. We’ve been there before and that’s just what we want.