Binge watching. We all do it. We’ve all done it. We’re all going to continue doing it. Binge watching has become a staple of American society. Back in the early 2010’s when Netflix took off for only $7.99 a month, our fate was sealed.
When the summer started, I watched the first season and half of the second season of ‘Friends.’ I then took a break and turned my attention elsewhere. Looking at you Stranger Things, etc. Fast-forward to the first three weeks in my new apartment I was hit with a very nasty case of binge watching. Being in a new place, working a 9-5, and having time during the evenings to binge-watch was a new experience for me and so I decided to pick back up with Friends. I figured I still had about nine and a half more seasons to watch so it’ll take me awhile.
I was wrong. I couldn’t stop. I was addicted to Friends.
So, picking up where I left off in season 2, I was suddenly thrown back into the lives of Ross and Monica Geller, Phoebe Buffay, Rachel Greene, Joey Tribbiani, and Chandler Bing.
With every episode, the jokes got funnier, I grew more invested in these six people, I genuinely began to care about what was going to happen next, and I felt like I knew them. I began to see a part of myself in each of the six main characters. Some episodes I was so Ross, other episodes I saw myself as Chandler on the most intrinsic level. There were episodes where I felt as outlandish as Phoebe and as naive as Joey. As the seasons wore on, I felt like I was growing up with Rachel, and ultimately accepted my true fate as a male version of Monica (minus the chef part of course).
Let me break it down into the weeks of watching. WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Come back and read later if you do not wish to be spoiled!
Week 1: Seasons 2-4 – Enter Season 2 and me practically cheering as Rachel and Ross were finally going to be together. But wait! Ross gets off the plane and “Julie!” I wa ssuper sad for Rachel but SO happy for Ross, he finally moved on past Rachel, past Carol and he was finally happy. This is also the season where Heckles dies, Phoebe’s gay, not-so-gay husband shows up, the one where Chandler and Joey leave the baby on the bus, and ultimately everyone watches the video of Rachel and Monica’s prom night and Ross and Rachel FINALLY become a real couple. Also fat Monica. “That girl ate Monica!”
That moment was the moment I knew I was hooked. I couldn’t take my eyes of of the screen. I was so sad for past Ross in that video because I get it, I understood what he was going through. And then, when Rachel crossed the room and everything was silent and she kissed him, like really kissed him I was grinning like a freaking loser. Season 2 also introduced the Monica-Richard romance and ended it, that was one of my favorite relationships of the entire show. I mean they were iconic, and well, Tom Selleck’s mustache.
By Season 3 the show really came into it’s own. It was really about enjoying the friends just hanging out and letting their chemistry play off of one another in everyday settings. It was genuinely entertaining to see what situations they would get into next and with each episode being only half an hour it was effortless to keep on watching and before I knew it I was at the infamous “break.” (Not even going to open this bag of worms.)
Season 4 was Phoebe’s season and I was so grateful for it as before her birth mother storyline, she almost felt like the “extra friend” at times. She was the surrogate mother for her brother and his wife and got pregnant with their child. In the next season, she gave birth to their triplets which of course led to laughs down the line (“I had my brother’s babies.”) but was heartbreaking when she had to give them up. This was also the season that began to move away from day-in-the-life stories and into the friends relationships with each other. This season housed the most devastating breakup of the entire shows run: Chandler and Joey. That one hit hard. (Thank god they got back together.) At the time, I was like:
And then there was Ross’s new girlfriend, Emily. Hated her guts from the beginning. Something was always off about her and so what ended up happening with her was no surprise. This season was the first finale to end at a destination if you don’t count the beach episode of Season 3 and it delivered. It was “IN LONDON!” Points for you if you understood the reference. Ross ended up marrying Emily and saying Rachel’s name at the altar and effectively began all of the Ross marriage jokes….aaaaand Chandler and Monica started their secret relationship. Personally I think Chandler and Monica were the best ship.
Week 2: Seasons 5-7
Season 5 was weird. By this point in my binge watching journey, I was getting a bit busy with work and was coming to the realization that all I wanted to do everyday was wake up go to work, and then come home and watch Friends. Wash, rinse, and repeat. It was the only feasible thing I could think about spending my free time doing and although I would try to watch something else or watch a few episodes here or there, it was to no avail. It’s the way my brain is wired. Once I start something, I’ll go to hell and back to finish it.
So I pressed on, this season was a lot like Season 3 in that not a ton happened. I mean Phoebe had the babies, Ross got divorced for the second time, and had a random bout of sporadic anger issues, which was too funny (“My sandwich!”) and Chandler and Monica grew closer and went public. The scene where Chandler tells Monica he loves her for the first time is one of my favorite in the entire show.
Chandler, who has barely been in a serious relationship, lets those three words slip out, and it’s so genuine and effortless. Then there’s Monica who whether she’d admit it or not was in love with Chandler since they met or at least was into him and that slow burned into true love. Chandler grew up and stepped up and was up front with Monica from that point forward and Monica learned to loosen up but still be her neurotic self. She grew from a girl with weight issues and a string of bad relationships into the love of her best friends life. I love those two. Their differences yet sameness, their unique dichotomy was so much fun to watch. In the finale of the season these two almost marry in Vegas and Ross and Rachel DO marry in Vegas. Yeah, Ross had two marriages in one season. That’s his thing.
Season 6. This was a season where it didn’t seem like a lot happened, but a lot did happen. Ross and Rachel get divorced, Joey’s career begins to take off, Monica and Chandler move in together, and Rachel and Phoebe move in together. And also Rachel ends up living with Joey and Phoebe with Monica and Chandler when their apartment catches fire. Ross ended up becoming a college professor and dates one of his students for a while, I literally did not care about this because I wanted him and Rachel to stay married, but whatever.
Something about this season I loved to watch was Joey and Rachel develop an actual friendship that became a deep friendship and then some down-the-line. (I liked her with Joey just as much as with Ross, unpopular opinion, I know.) The season ended with Chandler and Monica dual proposing and it was the sweetest little thing I ever did see yessir.
The Friends daily lives and hi-jinks continued into Season 7 and it was rewarding to watch them all grow up and face more adult issues as they entered their early thirties. They were always a rather sophisticated bunch, sans Phoebe, but it became a much more refined concept with age. Perfect example: Rachel dating her assistant Tag. He was way younger and as she turned 30, she realized it was time to grow up and ultimately broke up with him. We were also introduced to Chandler’s cross-dressing father and finally the wedding happened. Oh yeah! And someone (Rachel) was pregnant. Dun-dun-dun, cliffhanger!
Week 3: Seasons 8-10
By this point, I was beginning to really feel burnt out, but someone was pregnant and that someone was Rachel! I needed to see how this all played out. (Granted, I kind of knew how the show ended, about a year ago, I watched the majority of season 9 and all of 10 and that was when I decided to start from the beginning which brought me here. I think the reason I like to skip to the end of things and then backtrack is so that I can see how things end, so that I can brace myself for disappointment or sadness, or so that I’m reassured because there’s a happy ending. You can’t do that with real life.
Anyway, Season 8 was the first season where these people actually felt like true adults. I mean, we had Rachel and Ross pregnant, we had Chandler and Monica married and trying for a baby, we had Joey falling in love with Rachel who still loved Ross who still loved Rachel low-key, and we had Phoebe as the voice of reason. Phoebe. Also Chandler took baths and Rachel and Janice give birth together. This is where it gets kind of strange. Joey “proposes” to Rachel who says yes, but it didn’t feel right because the entire season was pushing her and Ross back together and she didn’t actually say yes, she said “okay.”
By the penultimate season, I was able to watch with a lot more leniency because of the fact that I had already seen the last two seasons. I would have episodes on in the background while doing other things. Besides, by this season you could tell that the show was slowly coming to an end. Not because of a loss of quality, (In fact, these two seasons are probably in my Top 5.) but because it felt like storylines and loose ends were wrapping up finitely. Ross and Rachel were not together but they were fun to watch as parents and it was almost like the show wanted you to feel like they could pick back up at any moment.
With that being said though, at the point where Rachel and the baby move to Joey’s and she begins to develop feelings for him, I wanted them together. I loved it. And in the Barbados finale, I got my wish. Besides, Ross was with Charlie who was one of like 5 black people to ever be on the show and she was a perfect match for him and ended up being written out for a dumb reason because the show was ending.
This was also the season that brought in Paul Rudd as Mike, Phoebe’s love interest and later husband. I loved them and their hippie ways. ALSO ALSO ALSO Dermot Mulroney was added in as a love interest for Rachel this season and he’s the man. We also find out Chandler and Monica cannot conceive. That was so sad because they were both ready for kids for a while, but being them, together they thought of alternate methods in order to be parents. I love them so much.
Season 10. The end of an era, the end of a journey. Crazy to think that this show that was on for a decade, a decade, could be finished by me in three weeks. This one had the friends adulting go into overdrive and it was so satisfying comparing these versions of the characters to their season 1 counterparts.
Breaking it down, Rachel and Joey date and break up, Charlie and Ross date and break up. See where I’m going with this? Monica and Chandler look into adoption as it’s their only option. (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it.) Chandler and Monica buy a house for their future child. (They found a birth mother.) Mike and Phoebe get engaged and married. Estelle (Joey’s agent) dies. Rachel gets a job offer in Paris. Her and Ross sleep together. She still leaves for the airport. Chandler and Monica’s birth mother goes into labor, with not one baby, but two. Rachel gets on the plane for Paris.
She gets off the plane. She says “I got off the plane.” Ross says “You got off the plane.” They’re both close to tears. I’m close to tears. I get misty-eyed. Anyone with a soul gets misty-eyed. They’re finally together and in love and ugh. I love them so much. All the friends gather for one last cup of coffee, the end. Cue the FEELING. Cue the LOSS. Cue the HAPPINESS. So many emotions associated with this ending. Phenomenal perfect season. Glad I’m done, but also very sad that there’s nothing past them walking out of that apartment in the final scene. C’est la vie.
Honorable Mentions as I Watched:
One of the other things about this show that I loved endlessly: Janice. Beyond priceless. Every time she showed up with her iconic “OHHH MY GAWD!” or “Chandlah Biiiing?!” I couldn’t help but crack up. Easily my favorite non-main character (Sorry Gunther).
And then there’s one of the most iconic songs of all time. Smelly Cat. Besides being a joke and being hilarious, I HIGH KEY LOVE THIS SONG! It’s on one of my playlists weekly. “Smelly cat, Smelly cat. What are they feeding you? Smelly cat, smelly cat. It’s not your fault! They won’t take you to the vet, you’re obviously not the favorite pet…”
And of course, there’s this (which I must start using right away):
There are so many more things I loved, such as the liberal use of the word “phalange,”but I will end with one simple question.
So that’s that. I was addicted to Friends for three weeks and lived to tell the tale.
Binge watching. Yeah.
It’s real and the burnout of binge watching is just as real. There was point when I realized I was truly enjoying the show, but that I also wanted/needed to take a break from it and didn’t. Be better than me. Have self-control. 🙂
Side note – I know this post may seem kind of Chandler/Monica & Ross/Rachel heavy, but it’s only because heir plot lines were the deepest to me. I will say though that Joey and Phoebe were the heart of this show, because they were the glue that held these friends together. They were the funniest! (Well, aside from Chandler.)
My names Zack, I upload a new post on this page every Tuesday around noon, except for this Tuesday because it is in fact, Wednesday, subscribe and comment if you liked or alternatively didn’t like what you read. I’ll see you next week!
P.S. In lieu of the election results, prepare yourselves for a new era in this country whether you like it or not. I am widely indifferent for a multitude of reasons. Which we can discuss at a later time!
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