28 Observations From a 28-Year-Old First-Time ‘Friends’ Viewer
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TV Nostalgia

28 Observations From a 28-Year-Old First-Time ‘Friends’ Viewer


I’ve been without Friends for nearly 30 years.

Yes, I’m an editor at a pop culture website, but I’d never seen an episode of the NBC sitcom from start to finish. Same with Full House, and same with Boy Meets World. (It occurs to me I just didn’t do sitcoms as a kid.)

I did try to watch the series finale when it aired in 2004, but my DVR cut off the recording after the first five minutes, and y’know, Hulu wasn’t yet a thing.


But my Friends ignorance had to end — I’m an entertainment journalist, dammit! — so today I sat down with “The Pilot.” You know, “The One Where It All Began.” Or “The One Where Monica Gets a New Roommate.” Or “The First One.”

(Was giving a TV episode four titles a thing back in 1994?)

So, here are the observations from my mostly shady but ultimately appreciative time watching what I’ll simply call the first Friends episode.

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  • The ‘90s fashion isn’t as bad as I expected it to be, but… turtlenecks, vests, suspenders, oversized jackets, tucked-in-shirts, backwards caps, shirts under dresses? Are people 20 years from now gonna think our 2010s style is just as silly?
  • I do enjoy opening title sequences, but the Friends intro grates on my patience. I get it! They’re zany!

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  • Central Perk. It looks like a bar but serves coffee. And while Manhattanites now fight Hunger Games-style over coffee shop seating, these Friends are able to monopolize a whole orange couch.
  • The Friends also talk so much louder than anyone else in the establishment. That wouldn’t fly.

  • I didn’t realize Rachel wasn’t in with the in-crowd until this episode.

  • I don’t think David Schwimmer says “juice” once.

  • The laugh track is oppressive. Netflix should offer a version without it, or at least dub the laugh track with a polite titter instead of these huge guffaws.

  • Ross’s wife turned out to prefer ladies. ‘90s humor!
  • The gang watches a show on a miniscule TV. ‘90s technology!

  • Speaking of dated tech, Rachel holds what looks like a black brick to her face and talks to it as if she’s on the phone. That is no phone, ma’am.

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  • I’ve heard much ballyhoo over the palatial size of Monica’s apartment compared to her probable salary. That doesn’t bother me so much as the clutter. There’s, like, zero counter space.
  • I bet Chandler was a big hit at the time because Matthew Perry hadn’t yet done the same trademark snark in every subsequent TV show.

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  • Paul the Wine Guy arrives, and I’m a bit surprised he’s not a more recognizable actor. Brad Pitt is coming, though, or so I hear.
  • And speaking of romantic interests, Rachel’s spurned fiancé is named Barry, thus marking the last time a romantic interest named Barry appeared on TV.

  • Incidentally, Rachel? Barry? Rachel Berry?

  • Joey’s hair is a magnificent fountain, each glossy strand gaining altitude before leveling off in a perfect shelf.

  • Frustration with IKEA-style furniture is overplayed by now, but this scene with Ross does make me like the guy.

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  • The funniest part of the episode, though,  is Monica’s spit take when Paul tells her he hasn’t performed in two years.

  • Chandler references Joanie Loves Chachi, a show whose two-season run ended over three decades ago, Google tells me.

  • Meanwhile, Ross references “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero,” a pop song by Paper Lace from over four decades ago, Google tells me.

  • As Rachel gazes ruefully out a window, a Jackson Browne song plays for all of 10 seconds before a fade-out.

  • (Also, fade-outs?)
  • Monica is a cook, if being a cook involves occasionally grazing a pan with a wooden spoon. Her co-worker and co-gossiper, meanwhile, inattentively mixes a salad.

  • Also, Iridium is a weird-ass name for a restaurant.

  • So Phoebe’s mother and her first NYC roommate killed themselves, and the audience just laughs and laughs.

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  • Also, the friends start wilfully not sitting on the Central Perk couch, leaving it empty and mocking us and our 2010s coffee shop seating stress.

  • I already know I'm supposed to ship Ross and Rachel, and don’t worry, I already do.

  • I’ll keep those two friends and Phoebe. Monica and Joey are fine. They’ll be Facebook friends. And Chandler? Eh, acquaintance.