Friends is a cult US sitcom from the 1990s which still attracts an enthusiastic following to this day. It revolves around the lives and loves of a group of twenty-somethings living in New York city.
Rachel Green, brother and sister Ross and Monica Geller, Chandler Bing, Joey Tribbiani and Phoebe Buffay are friends who live in apartments in the city centre. Following their day-to-day lives, the series spanned over 10 years – from 1994 to 2004.
They go through romantic problems, family issues, laughter, tears, mayhem and surprises, while remaining firm friends throughout and supporting each other through the good and bad times. Central to the plot is the on-off romance of Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and their ups and downs over the decade.
From being a popular high school student, to a runaway bride after she jilts her rich husband-to-be at the altar, Rachel bumps into old school pal Monica (Courteney Cox) in Central Perk, the café where everyone socialises. She ends up sharing an apartment with Monica, who is known as the compulsive neat freak of the group.
Ross is a rather nerdy palaeontologist who studies fossils and has always had a crush on Rachel. However, both Ross and Rachel go through a host of doomed relationships with other people throughout the series, while the viewers are left wondering if they will ever get together.
Monica and Chandler (Matthew Perry) start having a secret affair, keeping it under wraps because they are worried how their friends – in particular Ross – will react. Joey (Matt LeBlanc) joins the group as Chandler’s good-looking but not very bright new flatmate who is continually trying to make it as a top actor.
Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) is the ditzy friend who makes a living from being a masseuse and playing her guitar and singing at Central Perk as a side-line. Her song, Smelly Cat, was an ongoing theme throughout the series, mainly because it was so awful! However, it was eventually used in a TV advert for cat litter!
Much of the action takes place in the friends’ apartments, as they all live in shared apartment blocks – the ups and downs with their neighbours have caused quite a few laughs. In the earlier episodes, Monica and Rachel had a neighbour in the apartment below, played by Larry Hankin, whom they nicknamed Mr Heckles because he was always complaining about the noise. However, after his death they were touched to discover he had left them his personal belongings in his will.
Quite a few of the plots have revolved around incidents with furniture. In the sixth season, an episode called The One with the Apothecary Table sees Rachel buying a table from a store called the Pottery Barn for the apartment she shares with Phoebe. Soon after, she learns how Phoebe hates the shop, so she pretends she bought the table from a flea market but gets herself deeper and deeper into trouble as the episode progresses – as the lie becomes increasingly difficult to maintain.
In the third season, in an episode called The One With the Race Car Bed, Monica buys a new bed for her apartment from a local shop. However, the wrong one is delivered and she ends up with a bed in the shape of a bright red sports car! What’s worse, Phoebe and Rachel are at the apartment when the bed arrives but they don’t notice it’s the wrong one until it’s too late.
Every series of Friends ranked in the top 10 of the TV ratings, reaching the number one spot for the eighth season, with the season finale on 6th May 2004 attracting more than 52 million viewers – making it the most watched TV episode of the decade from 2000 to 2010.
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