Friends has been a popular series enjoyed by a wide variety of individuals throughout the years on live television, Netflix, and now HBO.
The show allows viewers to escape into a time of true friendships and entertaining life experiences that are both relatable and enjoyable.
The show is unique in that it continues to be an incredibly popular series despite being over 25 years old.
It has several generations of viewers.
Why Is Friends So Popular?
The most notable reason for its popularity is that the show contains a large variety of elements that viewers can relate to on a personal level.
In addition to being relatable, it also contains a variety of other cringe-worthy yet entertaining elements that viewers can only hope they never have to experience.
The series also displays what today’s viewers may consider ideal friendships in the relationships between the main characters: Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe.
Friends depicts a simpler time before the internet and smartphone were commonplace among youth, teens, and adults alike.
It also always remained lighthearted in nature, avoiding significant worldwide events.
1. Relatable to Today’s Viewers
In current times, the primary viewers of the Friends series include a variety of generation Z and Millenials, most of whom grew up watching the show.
For some of these viewers, the show already had several seasons under its belt by the time they were even born or introduced to it.
One of the series’ most attractive qualities may be that it is so relatable to viewers no matter their age.
The struggles that the characters experience in their dating lives, careers, and family interactions are relatable in some way or another to almost any individual, no matter their age.
However, there are also countless examples throughout the more than 200 episodes of both comedic and horrifying situations that viewers can cringe at and laugh at.
One example is in “The One with All the Resolutions” episode when Ross wears a pair of leather pants on a date, shortly after vowing that the new year would be his best year yet.
Fans of the show will remember that Ross quickly realizes his mistake, as the restrictive pants cause him to sweat and then constrict leading to an unfortunate end to the date and Ross walking home pants-less within a week of his New Year’s Resolution.
Any viewer can only hope that situation would never happen to them while laughing at the unfortunate situation.
2. Relatable Across A Lifespan
The series follows the characters over a long span of years, with each character experiencing and ultimately overcoming a variety of life battles at different stages.
No matter how many times an individual may watch the show, it is likely that they can relate to one or more of the characters’ experiences at different periods throughout the viewer’s life.
As an example, a younger viewer may relate to Chandler’s struggles with talking to girls and his efforts to learn how to impress women his age.
A few years down the line, that same viewer may now relate to Chandler as he has fallen in love with his best friend and wishes to start a new life with her.
Or it may be that the viewer can relate to Rachel and Ross’s experience as they raise a child together out of wedlock.
At each round of viewing the series, the same individual may be able to relate to a different situation, and eventually to each character in some way.
This aspect of the series allows it to be both entertaining, while perhaps providing valuable life lessons or encouragement for individuals to overcome current situations within their personal or professional lives.
3. Portrayal Of The Ultimate Friendship And Relationships
Another reason for the series’ popularity is the relationships and friendships found among the characters.
The characters in Friends are truly lifelong friends, who are there for each other no matter the situation.
True fans of the show will recognize that there are many trials experienced by every character throughout the duration of the show.
In modern times, the Coronavirus pandemic has been just one trial experienced by individuals across the globe which has caused many friendships to be tested to the breaking point.
Friends who once interacted and saw each other daily were forced to social distance and navigate unprecedented times.
For some, the Coronavirus pandemic may have broken friendships, and for others, it may have only strengthened them.
A study conducted by the AARP among adults 50 years and older found that renewing and strengthening relationships were a primary focus for many coming out of the pandemic.
This is understandable, as the study also found that many felt their friendships weakened over time throughout the course of the pandemic.
The friendships and relationships depicted in the television series can inspire all.
4. It Depicts A Simpler Time
As any current teenager and young adult can agree with, smartphones have become the norm more than the exception.
While there is no doubt that the advancement of technology has in some ways been for the better of society, it has also had detrimental side effects.
One such side effect is the nasty game of comparison that many experience when viewing social media feeds that only showcase the positive and exciting aspects of an individual’s life.
The television series Friends was created in a time without social media, and therefore without the miscommunication and feelings of doubt that can be experienced as a result.
Beyond the lack of smartphones and other technological advancements, the characters in the show appeared to live a relatively carefree lifestyle without feeling the burden of significant world events.
There was no mention of wars, worldwide epidemics or significant illnesses, nor were there any presidential elections or political battles which may have caused a significant emotional or mental impact on the characters.
While the show follows the characters’ career progression, it does not particularly dwell on the negative effects of economic or financial distress.
Rather, the show depicts the characters as appearing to have an overabundance of time to just hang out in a coffee house without responsibilities.
In modern times, this lack of responsibility is almost unheard of and may appear desirable to those who are overworked and burnt out.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2022 there are more than 430,000 Americans who have more than one job to make ends meet.
This is more multiple job-holders than at any time since 2000 when the Bureau reported 410,000 Americans with at least two full-time jobs.
The characters of the show are able for the most part to live their life on their own terms, rather than reacting to an ever-changing world.
Viewers thus may enjoy the show for the ability to get away from their responsibilities for a short period, by living vicariously through the characters.
5. It Is Easy To Watch With Minimal Context
Perhaps another reason for Friends’ popularity is that it is relatively easy to watch, even if the viewer is not familiar with the plot.
While the show follows the lives of the six characters, it does not require viewers to have thoroughly followed the main storyline.
Because of this, it does not require a viewer’s full attention span while watching and is considered to be more of a relaxing experience.
Individuals who may be looking to “turn off their brain” for a while may find the series an effective tool.
Compared to other television series, with intense plots that may lead to confusion if a single episode is missed, Friends provides viewers with an easygoing experience full of comedy and real relationships.
6. Shorter Episodes Are Preferred By Viewers
Additionally, it is important to note that another aspect that makes Friends easy to watch is the length of each episode.
Episodes are around twenty to twenty-five minutes in length, making them a perfect length of time for viewers on a strict schedule.
This compares to IndieWire’s survey which asked a handful of television critics what the preferred length of television shows is.
The critics’ reviews within the article provide some interesting insights into why they prefer shorter runtimes for television shows.
One critic believes that the shorter the show, the more time the viewer has to spend watching either more episodes or more television shows in general.
Another critic argues that a shorter runtime encourages storytellers and directors to be more creative and economical in how they write their plot lines.
The economical plot lines are more welcoming to viewers and are not as intimidating to jump into, as compared to other series which boast 45 minutes to one hour in length per episode.
7. Fan Base
The series has a strong online following, with several Twitter dedicated solely to Friends.
Fans continue to tweet regularly with their favorite scenes and quotes from the popular characters in the television show.
The Friends Facebook page also continues to gain followers and has over 19,000,000 likes at the time of this article.
This fan even goes so far as to claim that Friends is one of their top five favorite television shows.
5 best tv shows of all time:
That 70’s Show
Friends (fight me)
— Cire L. Nnaps (@iRhyme_) January 3, 2023
8. Friends Merchandise
Lifelong fans may be interested in acquiring some of their own Friends merchandise, like sweatshirts, mugs, games, or even dog toys.
The online shops offering merchandise are countless, even the popular NBC News station has its own lineup of items for sale.
The NBC store above has a wide variety of popular Friends-related items, featuring customizable picture frames, trivia questions, and a coffee tumbler.
If you still are not able to find a Friends item you enjoy, you can seek out an Etsy artist to customize your preferred item such as a t-shirt, sweatshirt, poster, stickers, or another item with your favorite quote custom designed.
9. The 90s Is Making A Comeback
Some may question why a themed item, featuring the 90s styles seen in Friends, may still be in trend in the 2020s.
At the time of the series’ original release, fans all over the world were attempting to mimic Rachel’s haircut and the wardrobe of both Rachel and Monica.
This fashion style has once again increased in popularity, causing fans to return to their lifelong appreciation of the Friends’ wardrobe.
Youth, teens, and adults alike are channeling their inner 90s characters in their clothing and other merchandise.
Friends merchandise and clothing lines are more popular than ever.