The end of the Friends era, I thought, was in 2005. After a decade Rachel and Ross had finally wasted enough time in getting it together and that was, sadly, the end of that. Joey would have to find someone else’s fridge to scavenge out of. But an additional seven years of Channel Four reruns proved me wrong.
Tomorrow, Channel Four are finally ending our daily doses. I, like millions of others, have watched every one of the 236 episodes countless times. Now I have to actually buy them? The outrage!
What made the incessant Friends broadcast acceptable was that it was reliable. In the midst of channel hopping desperation, the Friends would be crowded round that Central Perk sofa. (Except that one time.) Everyday at 5pm, they were there. If you missed it, e4+1. If you were getting home late, the 8pm and 9pm showings. Excessive? Yes – but valued nonetheless. Simply searching “e4 Friends” on Twitter presents a torrent of disappointed fans wondering what they’ll do with their time instead.
e4 will arguably lose a large percentage of habitual viewers to other channels, but for those lucky enough to have Sky or Virgin television packages there is a silver lining, as Comedy Central will be showing Friends instead. To the unfortunate masses, e4 are providing Scrubs and My Name Is Earl as evening replacements. In the most endearing sense, the best of reruns are mindlessly entertaining. Scrubs requires just a little too much mental energy, and My Name Is Earl is…well, not quite as welcoming as Monica’s purple walls or a well turned “how you doin’”.
While the Joey spin-off was as much of a success as could have been hoped for (let’s not go there), it looks like a feature-length film won’t be happening for Friends. It’s probably for the best, as it would most likely take the ‘ten years later’ format, and just look how that turned out for both the book and the film of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. The sight of Jennifer Aniston with ‘realistic’ wrinkles would definitely undo the careful work of all that sneaky botox.
It’s alright though, of course it will be. At least e4 are ending it on The Last One. The theme tune will just have to take on another meaning. “I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour/I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before/I’ll be there for you, on DVD too.”
How to test whether you’re a ‘real’ Friends fan:
– You know Chandler’s bank account number
– You can recite Rachel’s monologue to her Dad about being ‘a shoe’
– You’ve watched all 82 hours, back to back
– You know the lyrics to the rest of I’ll Be There For You
– You bought a special edition Central Perk mug to be used for commemorative purposes only
– You can make any words work to Phoebe’s Smelly Cat tune