Opinion | I can’t bring myself to watch anything but “Friends”

Louisa Marshall

I have a membership with just about every streaming service – Netflix, Hulu, HBO – you name it, I have it. I’m always excited when I see new content coming to each platform, as it perfectly dictates what I’m going to do when I get off work. A trailer will pop up on my Netflix home page, only for me to add the new movie or show to my list. “That’s going to be so good,” I say to myself, as Netflix reels me back into the never-ending cycle that is show-watching.

But here’s the thing. I’ll watch the trailer, I’ll add the new show or movie to my list, I’ll even start watching it. But nine times out of 10, I will revert back to my comfortable place: Monica and Rachel’s apartment. Yes, I am one of the many out there who constantly goes back to watching “Friends,” even though there are about a million other titles to choose from.

But I have a theory as to why this is.

When I was in my first year of college, I wasn’t in the healthiest of mindsets. I was a dance major, consistently killing my body in class and rehearsal, only to go into lecture halls and try to pay attention. I was at a breaking point both mentally and physically and there wasn’t a whole lot I could do that made me feel like I could just relax and recharge. The one thing that did, however, was “Friends.” I would sit in my extra-long twin bed in my dorm room and watch episode after episode. My stomach would hurt from laughing at Ross say “Pivot!” half a dozen times and my heart would swoon every time Joey defended one of his five pals. “Friends” was one of the things I looked forward to in that first year of college because it was the only time I could take to regroup after the long week.

That was three years ago. Just thinking about how much time has gone by since those days of curling up under my comforter to watch my favorite six people navigate adulthood forces me to reminisce. It was a time in my life, like my beloved characters I watched on my laptop screen, that I too was living in New York City and coming to terms with what life was throwing at me. Sure, I didn’t have a massive apartment or Hugsy, Joey’s bedtime penguin pal, but I could relate wholeheartedly to what each character was facing; their experiences hit me in a way that was personal and relatable. I cried when Rachel and Ross split up for the first time (and yes, like many women, I do not think the “break” they were on was legit). I celebrated when Monica and Chandler got married and I laughed more than I care to admit when Phoebe found a thumb in her soda can. What was so wonderful to me was that these six characters, with all of their quirks and weird habits, found each other in a city that doesn’t always lend itself to love and friendship.

I finished watching “Friends” for what felt like the millionth time last night, only to start it again from the beginning. Not only is it a show that I can have on in the background while I do my homework, but it’s a show that I can wholeheartedly rely on to make me smile. Three years and a lot of self-reflection and improvement later, “Friends” still holds a special place in my heart, but for reasons that are far more nuanced than they were before. It’s a show that reminds me just how much you can change and how crazy life can be. But if there is one thing I’ve learned from my beloved show, it’s that the people you love and love you in return will always be there.