Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

Reflections on Friends

I started watching Friends sometime in the late 1990s, when the series was well underway. There were a couple of years where Jane and I didn't have cable so wed miss a season and have to catch up.

We bought a few seasons on DVD and had cable for the final two seasons so we got to watch the series finale when it happened.

Now it’s over a decade since the show ended and almost 20 years since I watched my first episode. The entire series is on Netflix and we’re going through it with the kids.

We’re in the middle of Season 4 right now. It’s so much fun to see those old episodes through my kids’ eyes but it’s also interesting on how much my perception of the characters has changed as I’ve gotten older.

There’s a fair amount of unpleasant body talk/fat-shaming and some unfortunate homophobia with the guys. But, at its core, it was a really funny show.

It’s precipitated a lot of interesting discussions with the kids. We’ve talked about birth control, casual sex, porn, homosexuality, IVF, and lots of stuff about relationships.

The biggest difference watching this time around is how much I hate Ross and Rachel. I was completely caught up their makeup-breakup back and forth the first time around. I was so excited when they first got together, devastated when they broke up, up and down through the rest of it.

This time, it’s just annoying. My least favorite story arcs are about Ross & Rachel. I’m much happier when the focus is on the other characters.

Ross & Rachel both completely unbalanced. They’re whiny, emotionally manipulative, selfish, judgmental, and paranoid. In short, they’re perfect for each other.

I was pleased because the kids keyed right into the fact that Ross & Rachel don’t have normal, healthy relationships. The kids are just as annoyed by them as we are.

That they have the capacity to identify that kind of dysfunction makes me feel like we’re doing a good job. That they’ll have the skills to avoid that kind of dysfunction when they’re older.