Editor: Neha Anand | Design: Devika Deevasen
The return of the second-greatest group of friends to ever grace visual media threw social media for a spin and prophesied a return to normalcy with a big bang (theory). Rumours began swirling a few months prior (just like every other year) about its possibility, but this year it felt rather necessary. Despite all the engulfing sadness, ZEE5 gave us a reason to wear a mask until we watched what everyone was so hyped about. The one with incredible storytelling, sublime character development, killer jokes and unimaginable plot twists. The F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion show was fine too, I guess. But the reunion special did get me thinking about two things in particular: One, Father time does not spare the cane but more importantly, two, the influence of a show like F.R.I.E.N.D.S on the world.
This isn’t the standard Reunion review- we let the interns at Buzzfeed have the first shot at it, but an article on how significant the impact of certain pieces of pop culture is on our lives.
Remind me of an instance where a piece of pop culture enjoys an ever-growing fanbase, whose longevity is unquestionable, and whose influence is so embedded in the annals of pop culture that it would take the combined forces of Sheldon Cooper, Michael Scott, Tarak Mehta and Homer Simpson in a winner-take-all comedic deathmatch to uproot. Remember, multiple unprotected jokes to the head like ones in the F.R.I.E.N.D.S would result in any show looking up at the strobe lights.
Maybe I did go a bit overboard with that, but only an ignoramus will deny that F.R.I.E.N.D.S has cemented its place as the figurative GOAT of sit-coms, and people who haven’t watched it should be preserved in museums akin to rare artefacts. In fact, Matt LeBlanc acted in an entirely different spin-off series entitled ‘Joey’ to capitalize on his former show’s enormous success.
Such is its place in pop culture that the actors have been immortalized as their characters, and not the other way around.
The nostalgic pull of the show hasn’t diminished at all over the years. Even though the show was released in 1994 when most of us weren’t even born, this was the go-to show to introduce one to ‘Western’ TV shows. It was our first peek into American culture; our front-row seat to the American Dream. And while I do not enjoy glorifying a culture that is not mine, with all the IITians immigrating there, it wouldn’t hurt to watch. The show felt like a representation of a vibrant adventurous world; going through the ups and downs of life with your friends by your side. The world wouldn’t have ended if they didn’t include some of those egregious jokes and ridiculous laugh tracks but its influence far overshadows its occasional stupidity. Unrelated, but I need it to make a point:
A major part of the reunion special revolved around a real-life crush. Baffling.
The greatest group of friends to ever grace visual media ran from literal bulls to stop their boy from getting married.
Please interject me if I read too much into this, but the timing of the reunion’s announcement also corresponded with the declining infection rate and a twitching restlessness to reboot this frozen computer of life. Society was getting a second wind after all the scandals, conflicts, protests, conspiracies and just as things were about to get better, God sought to complete the pair. Two strikes down, possibly one more to go. Taking care of a duck and a chick requires eggs-treme care, hopefully, we won’t adopt a turkey next.
Petrol might currently be batting at Don Bradman’s average but the most expensive fuel to run on now is hope. The show in its heyday serviced viewers with hope for a better tomorrow. At the very least, the show (like most entertainment) served as an emotional crutch and a 30-minute timeout from the red-card-ridden play of life. I am not saying that we stop and smell the flowers (which is an extremely outdated adage given that there aren’t any), but take a breather once in a while.
We might have overdone it in insti by putting treat for every tiny hurdle overcome, but it’s motivating to look forward to that after spending your weekend for a singular point on your CV.
Find your hope. Sports, music, dance, GoT, celebrities, celebrity gossip, celebrity worship, celibacy- whatever you need. Just placing one of my favourite lyrics out there, “Wake up to the moon, haven’t seen the sun in a while but I heard the sky’s still blue”.
Another great aspect of the show was the unity of the group. Despite all the breaks in communication and unintended conflicts, they pivoted past obstacles on their way to happiness. We were reminded of this sense of unity throughout the second wave. Within insti circles, fundraisers were organised and leads were amplified. The system couldn’t be counted on so the community had to create a symbiont to aid the ailing pre-existing system. The healthcare system was aided with a flood of community support and this unity kept us from losing more than we have lost.
Especially after PUBG got banned, unity revived us.
Twitter made a hero’s return to help connect people to minimize time wastage on the delivery of life-saving drugs. Retweeting and hashtagging broadcasted leads and helped save countless lives. Despite the general narcissism and vanity present on social media, users took a step back to reassess what matters and what doesn’t. Even though Kangana Ranaut became the next Rishi Kapoor, the chickens came home to roost and slept in the koop.
We had been hoping for a friends reunion of our own too, but that has been postponed more times than Comedy Central has televised reruns of the show. Mirroring the show, we would make our way back after (hopefully) a year and a half, rediscover old feelings of homeliness, and learn to breathe freely without an N95 mask again. We would laugh at old inside jokes, host intricate practical pranks and hang out at a tea stall (rather than a coffee house). One of us would probably adopt a pet monkey. Multiple adventures and screw-ups later, we would move on to bigger things but never stop reminiscing about insti life.
Quite a parallel, I must admit.
See, pop culture doesn’t always have to be wafer-thin in concept.
Despite ending 15 years ago, F.R.I.E.N.D.S does retain a huge chunk of public memory considering the success of the Reunion special. Now, it comes to be seen whether insti reunion would be just as joyous. “Four to six months” to go. One thing assured, our reunion would feature at least one monkey.