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I’ll be there for you: A look at why Friends is still going strong 20 years later

Time really does fly. Just a couple short weeks ago, on September 22, the iconic television show “Friends” celebrated its 20th anniversary. For those (two) of you who are not familiar with the program, “Friends” is a show that revolves around, believe it or not, a group of friends. Six characters—Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Monica Geller (Courtney Cox), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), and Ross Geller (David Schwimmer)—share the ups and downs of their lives with each other while living in Manhattan The sitcom aired for ten seasons, from 1994 to 2004.

Perhaps I’m just a diehard “Friends” fan, who shamelessly owns all ten seasons, or maybe there’s something a little more solid embedded in my obsession. “Friends” truly is a comedic legend. Although it aired in 1994, people still talk about the show today. They sing the show’s famous theme song, “I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts (and don’t act like you didn’t clap and sing along to this tune at the beginning of every episode.) They debate about who’s the best character (arguably Chandler), and they deliberate over complicated plots (were Rachel and Ross truly on a break?)

What is it about this show that makes people still think about it a lengthy twenty years later? Did it really have that much of an impact on society?

Viewers grew completely involved with the show during its ten-year stint. They fell in love with the sitcom because of its quirky characters and their hilarious everyday experiences. People loved “Friends” because it was charming and relatable (well, besides that giant “rent-controlled” apartment.) More than that, it was full of light humor and love. These aspects drew people into the show and made viewers want to be a part of the world of “Friends.” It was certainly not a happy occasion when the program finally came to a close; even the actors fought tears while filming their final scenes.

TV has grown immensely in recent years. The shows that we’re exposed to nowadays reflect good television. For instance, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Game of Thrones,” and “True Detective” exhibit great acting, interesting concepts and overall solid entertainment. But, ironically enough, we probably won’t look back at these programs ten, twenty, or thirty years from now and remember the characters, or what happened over the course of the series. So, why can we do this with “Friends”, which was just a silly sitcom?

“Friends” has proven to be more than simply a TV program. According to a study conducted by the University of Toronto, the series has influenced the English language. The characters tended to use the term “so” before an adjective to emphasize the word’s meaning. While this change in vernacular was occurring already, it has been said that “Friends” helped to speed along the process. The series also presented an alternative lifestyle that young adults were attracted to. The concept that “all you need are good friends”—in other words, that you can create your own family—is said to have altered American culture entirely. It’s clear that “Friends” certainly sparked change in people’s everyday lives and maybe this is why the sitcom grew to be more than just a TV show.

With the 20th anniversary of “Friends”came a flood of appreciation through social media outlets. An overwhelming amount of fans showed their love by posting pictures and quotes on Twitter and Instagram. Along with this, those who were actually involved with the program showed their adoration as well. Actress Courtney Cox tweeted, “Friends premiered 20 years ago today. How time does fly!” Lisa Kudrow followed suit and wrote, “20 years ago…” I wonder if they miss those weekly episodes as much as we do.

While there doesn’t appear to be a “Friends” reunion in the works, there is something than can satisfy fans reconciliation cravings: a Central Perk pop-up shop. In celebration of the show’s 20th anniversary, Warner Bros and Eight O’Clock coffee have teamed up to create an imitation of the iconic coffee shop “Friend” revolved around. According to TIME magazine, the store is located on 199 Lafayette Street in lower Manhattan, and will be open for a limited time (from September 17 until October 18.) Inside, there are multiple displays featured, like some of the characters’ costumes, signed scripts, cast photos, and even the iconic orange couch. Basically, this is heaven for the diehard “Friends” fan.

Whether you’ve never seen “Friends” or you’re completely enthralled with it, you have to feel some sort of an appreciation for the show. It’s an extremely hard task to create a program that makes such a significant mark in television history by capturing the attention, love and respect of viewers. There’s a reason why people continue to quote the show all these years later. Happy 20th anniversary “Friends,” and thanks for always being there for me.

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I’ll be there for you: A look at why Friends is still going strong 20 years later