On 4 September 2011, I sat in front of the TV and watched Friends for the very last time on E4. It was the end of an era, as Channel 4 had held the broadcasting rights to the sitcom ever since it first aired to the British public in the mid 1990s. Although it’s common knowledge that Rachel got off the plane and Monica and Chandler had twins, it’s still strange that Friends isn’t automatically that easy tea-time viewing choice any more.
Part of me wonders why I’m bothered; after all, I do own the DVD box set. Maybe it’s because now I generally only watch it on my own, instead of three or four of us congregating round the telly and preempting the one-liners. At the end of second year, my ex-housemate and I decided that we would watch, in order, all 236 episodes of Friends. By the end of our degrees we’d made it to the end of Season 5, but then he went to China to coach tennis, thus Season 6 remains the only box in my set that’s still in its protective cellophane. I’ve dipped in and out of episodes on E4 and gradually made my way through the later seasons on DVD, but I’ve yet to watch Season 6 in its entirety. It would seem a shame not to complete the Friends quest, albeit alone, so perhaps the time has now come to unwrap that last box.
You see, familiar as the jokes are, I miss chuckling at Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey on a regular basis. Friends has had a huge impact on popular culture, birthing catchphrases, coffee shops and even haircuts, but ultimately it’s great, light-hearted entertainment with six memorable characters. Why say goodbye to that?