As much as I love Doctor Who, and many other shows I’ve discovered in recent years, when asked what my favorite show is the answer is always F•R•I•E•N•D•S…
I was in college, living with my dad, in Fredericksburg VA when it first aired. I’d just bought a TV for my room in the basement not long before the first episode. I distinctly remember laying across my bed watching it. From then on, that’s where I was every Thursday at 8:30 (Went to 9:30 for a very short time and then to its permanent slot of Thursday at 8:00 – which caused a bit of controversy at the time…)
Nothing like it had ever been done before – or since – though some shows have tried. How I Met Your Mother is so similar that it – in many ways – is the same story. Group of friends, hanging out in a coffee shop/bar, with a new girl showing up in the first episode who then has an on again off again relationship with the geeky guy that eventually becomes a professor. Meanwhile there’s the womanizing guy who later marries his best friends after becoming ordained via the internet. How I Met Your Mother is SO identical to FRIENDS that I’m surprised they get away with it…
FRIENDS was popular across the board. Even famous people wanted to be on the show. Of course there are people who were on the show that are famous now, but there were some guest stars on the show that were quite well known at the time. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Tom Selleck, Charlton Heston, Reese Witherspoon… There are many others – most of whom asked if they could be on the show rather than the show asking them to be a part of it.
Aside from the fact that it was hilarious, it provided me with so much more – at the time. My life was in turmoil during the years 1994 – 1998. So much so that I don’t often talk about it. Not because I don’t want to or wouldn’t if asked, but… Well, it’s for a couple reasons…
Partly because the guy I started dating in 1994 has some legal ‘issues’ – lack of a better word – and, quite honestly, I fear what could happen if I ever were to say anything in such a public place as the internet. The biggest reason, though, is because there is no way I could *ever* adequately describe the turmoil I was in. There’s no way I could write it or explain it with words on a screen.
I was a full time student, had a full time job, was madly in love with a man who messed my head up so bad that I was still hung up on him when I met Tom (3 years later). My parents were going through a horrible divorce – in which I was called in to testify – that split the whole family, not just my parents. And I don’t mean Dad’s family from Mom’s family. I mean my immediate family. I wasn’t talking to my sister – much, talked to my mom even less and my brother was married with a son I’d never met. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know about his marriage or his son until well after.
Then there was the horribly strained relationship with my dad. It was bad. It was so bad that I don’t even like to talk about it because I love my daddy so much, but it’s another one of those things I’ve overcome. (If there’s any trait I have that I could ever be proud to have it’s my resilience…) I was 5’8″ and a size 10 – but my father called me fat. Daily. He’d even get creative with it and sing little songs about how fat I was. He wouldn’t let me buy certain foods and would check the trash to make sure I’d not snuck any in the house. (I’m embarrassed about it, but I used to stop at the store or a fast food restaurant, buy the ‘illegal’ food, cram as much of it as I could in my mouth. Whatever I wasn’t able to cram in, along with the box/bag/wrapper it came in, I tossed in the dumpster at the top of my neighborhood so Daddy wouldn’t know I’d eaten it.)
The point is – individually these situations would be bad enough and stressful on their own, just being a full time student is stressful – but full time job too? As well as all the seriously flawed relationships and mental games – ugh. Seriously – I was epically, totally, mentally stressed – and then the guy I was madly in love with was shot – 5 times. (This is where the ‘I don’t feel comfortable talking about this’ comes into play a bit…) It’s all so complicated… bleh.
Through all of this, FRIENDS was the only thing in my life I could count on. Granted, it is not a show I would have watched if I’d had God in my life at the time, but if I’d had God in my life at that time I wouldn’t have been going through a lot of what I was going through. Their blatant disregard for relationships and the casual way they go from sexual partner to sexual partner is something that didn’t bother me then, it does now. At the time, I saw it as the norm, but I digress…
But peppered throughout the show are hilarious situations, realistic relationships and there are some lines from it that still show up in my conversations today. Not only was it something I could count on, it helped begin to heal the broken relationships in my family.
As I mentioned, I wasn’t talking very much with my sister and not at all with my mom or brother. I knew my sister would love FRIENDS so I’d call and talk to her about it. She was not long married and had three young children under the age of 4. Two of which were twins. Watching TV wasn’t something she had a lot of time for, but after a couple calls insisting she check it out – she finally did. After that, we’d call each other pretty regular to talk about the show – which then led to my talking to mom more and then my brother.
When I was little, I remember hearing my mom talk about “I Love Lucy” and how funny it was. When I’d finally get to watch some episodes with her – I thought it was great. That’s not something I can do with my kids because FRIENDS isn’t remotely kid friendly. That always sort of bummed me out.
Recently I found some of my favorite episodes and interestingly enough, they’re ones without any sexual references or anything bad. I’m not sure why that is, but for whatever reason it is, I’m glad because I’ve been able to share those same episodes with the boys.
Now, not only do they get some of the sayings I’ve always used, they’re saying some themselves. Yesterday I showed them the one where Joey won’t give Chandler back his chair at Monica’s apartment while they were supposed to be getting ready for a banquet for Ross. Chandler hid Joey’s underwear because of it and at the end of the show – while they’re at the banquet – some guy took Chandler’s chair so Chandler says “That’s it. Give me your underwear.” The boys thought it was hilarious. (Underwear jokes are always funny to little kids…. lol)
Last night they were getting ready for bed and Harrison ran into the bathroom before Brinson could. I heard Brinson say “That’s it. Give me your underwear.” and about died.