Twenty-six years ago today, Rachel Green burst into Central Perk coffee house wearing a wedding dress and looking for her former best friend, Monica Geller.
The bride was questioning her life choices and got so overwhelmed that she decided to run away from all of her problems, and for the following 10 years the characters in Friends continued to portray moments we could all relate to.
Sure, the series might have come to an end in 2004, but relationship troubles, career dilemmas, friendships, family and everyday dramas are timeless, which is exactly why we love to re-watch Friends over and over again. The show allows us to remind ourselves that we’re not alone in our struggles, and that there’s always a way to find laughter in tough moments.
While not everyone has owned a pet monkey, been dubbed-over in a music video or played Al Pacino’s butt in a movie, I’ve no doubt that every single viewer, at one point or another throughout the 236 episodes, saw a moment in the show and thought: ‘Same’.
Some of those scenes are more universal than others, so UNILAD has compiled a list of the most relatable storylines, quotes and mishaps in honour of all the ways Friends made us feel better about our own experiences.
10. ‘I wanna quit the gym’
Whether it’s a phone contract, a streaming service or a random website you agreed to get updates from when you were 13 years old, we’ve all gone through the tiresome experience of trying to cancel a subscription, much like Chandler when he tries to quit the gym.
There’s not always a ‘Maria’ to try and convince you otherwise, but services often try to win you over with new deals, or just make it so god-damn hard to leave by hiding the ‘cancel subscription’ button in a maze of links.
Struggling to come up with the courage to disappoint gym employee Maria, Chandler and Ross – who comes along for support – end up trying to quit the bank, instead. This is a pretty clever solution, but it backfires when they come face to face with employee Karen and they end up with a joint account.
Hopefully, future Friends fans will learn from Chandler’s mistakes, but the rest of us are probably destined for a life on the subscription list.
9. ‘Überweiss! It’s new, it’s German, it’s extra tough’
This one was as ridiculous in 1994 as it is today, but somehow we still fall victim to it, one way or another. In an attempt to impress Rachel with his ‘manly’ laundry detergent – as if there is such a thing – Ross buys a new ‘extra tough’ brand instead of his regular ‘Snuggles’.
I can tell you right now, there was nothing wrong with his original brand – if it makes your clothes clean, it’s fine – but doing something out of character to make a good impression is something most of us are probably guilty of, either when trying to impress a crush, like Ross, winning over your partner’s parents, or getting on the good side of your new boss.
It should be noted, however, that Rachel doesn’t appear to care what laundry detergent Ross is using, and instead is more focused on him being a good and supportive friend when the ‘horrible woman’ takes her machine. I think the moral of the story there is; ditch the false pretences and just be yourself.
8. ‘I needed a plan, a plan to get over my man. What’s the opposite of man? Jam.’
Obviously jam isn’t the opposite of man, but a breakup can do strange things to the mind. Not all of us will try to solve heartache by heading down to the docks and whipping up a batch or 10 of jam, but Monica’s way of dealing with her split from Richard isn’t actually that bizarre.
After going through what Chandler and Joey would refer to as ‘phase one’ and living in your sweats for a few days, newly single people often find themselves determined to make some positive life changes by getting a haircut, hitting the gym or throwing themselves into a new project.
Monica’s project escalates dramatically from jam to babies, but with her friends rallied around her she soon understands that she doesn’t have to go it alone; a realisation that can apply to whatever struggles you might face in life.
7. ‘I want to sit in a comfortable chair, watch television and go to bed at a reasonable hour!’
There’s a number of different ways this experience might come into fruition, whether it’s the feeling of relief when plans are cancelled, making up an excuse as to why you need to leave the bar at 9.00pm, or the rush of regret you feel when a hangover hits.
In The One Where They’re Going To Party, Chandler, Joey and Ross come to accept that they’re just not up for staying out all night any more, and their comments on the matter really hit home, especially if you’ve well and truly left your teenage years behind.
After having to shout to be heard in a loud club, Chandler orders a hot water with lemon before Ross accuses the three of them of being ‘sad’. But Chandler rightly points out that they’re not sad, they’re just getting older, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Sure, there’s still time for the occasional wild night, but if you want to ‘hang out in a quiet place where you can talk to your friends’, then that’s perfectly acceptable, too.
6. ‘Ya wanna work out?’, ‘Oh, you know, I would, but that might get in the way of my lying around time.’
Chandler really hit the nail on the head when he told Monica he didn’t want her to help him lose weight and ‘remake’ him, but the ever-determined Monica managed to convince him to do so anyway.
What follows is a series of scenarios we’ve all experienced, either when desperately trying to keep up with your gym buddy, having to be bribed into doing sit ups – though not necessarily with the promise of being ‘flashed’, as Monica offers – or finding your muscles too sore to even lift a cup of coffee to your lips.
Ultimately, Chandler reaches the stage we all get to at one point or another, and argues that he actually likes the last pound, and that he and Monica should just give up and go back to bed. Chandler might not be great at offering advice, but this is one of the rare occasions where he’s probably right.
5. ‘That sandwich was the only good thing going on in my life!’
Sometimes it seems like everything’s going to sh*t, and you just have to find a way to appreciate the little things that come your way, like Ross with his Thanksgiving sandwich, complete with the ‘moist maker’.
Admittedly, Ross ends up exploding in fury when he finds out someone else has eaten his sandwich, and though my own experiences with my ever-greedy older brother mean I can empathise with his annoyance, I wouldn’t advise that you get as angry as Ross if someone takes it away from you.
Ultimately, Monica saves the day by offering Ross a new sandwich, so it’s a good reminder to appreciate the little things, but also not to sweat the small stuff.
4. ‘Dinner for six for one.’
I don’t think I need to say too much about this one, because we’re all guilty of eating more than our fair share every now and again. ‘Serves four?’ I don’t think so, family-sized lasagne.
Portion sizes are a mere recommendation after all, so when most of the friends ditch Phoebe’s birthday dinner and Joey successfully manages to eat everything they ordered, plus a birthday cake, it’s all too easy to comprehend. Eyeing up the entire packet of biscuits? Go on, you deserve it.
3. ‘According to my plan I should already be with the guy I wanna marry!’
Ah, turning 30. It’s a milestone I’ve not yet reached, but one which lies in wait, dragging 29-year-olds towards a new decade. Everyone goes through life on their own timeline, but there’s often the assumption that certain life events go hand-in-hand with the 30th birthday, and Rachel does not handle that realisation well.
She attempts to come up with a plan to have the first of her three desired kids by the time she’s 35, only to realise that she has to fit in a relationship, wedding, and honeymoon period in before that. Needless to say, she’s already behind schedule.
Having the occasional panic about where you are in life is natural, but Rachel’s freak-out reminds us that you can’t always plan everything you want. I’m sure I don’t need to remind Friends fans that everything turns out well for the character, who ends the show as both a mother and a happy girlfriend, which proves that sometimes it’s best to just see where life takes you.
2. ‘Everybody looks so happy. I hate that.’
Without a doubt, New Years Eve is always the most over-anticipated event of the year. You might do your best to plan an epic night, complete with fireworks as the clock strikes 12, but more often than not the actual evening turns out to be a let down.
This is captured well in The One With The Monkey, where the gang forego their original plans to spend New Years as six single people so they can each have someone to kiss at midnight. Unfortunately, things soon go awry and they all end up alone as the clock counts down to midnight, leading Phoebe to condemn everyone else’s happiness.
While a little bitterness is sometimes warranted, it’s good to try and find the silver lining in situations where you feel let down, just like Chandler does when he suggests the friends all kiss each other at midnight. Having Joey be the only one to respond probably wasn’t what Chandler had in mind, but it’s still good that he made the effort to reconcile the situation.
1. ‘I don’t even have a pla-‘.
Never has a scene been more accurate than when Monica, Phoebe and Rachel are all sitting around in their pyjamas, drinking ‘Tiki Death Punch’, eating cookie dough and complaining about how they don’t know where their lives are going.
Monica doesn’t have a plan, Phoebe, famously, doesn’t even have a ‘pla-‘, and everyone Rachel knows is ‘either getting married, or getting promoted, or getting pregnant’, while she’s getting coffee which isn’t even for her.
Now, this scene happens years before Rachel’s 30th birthday breakdown, so it’s not like she didn’t have time to come up with a plan in the meantime, but I think it’s become quite clear by now that plans don’t always work out. The rise of social media has led us to believe that everyone but us is living their best life, but evidently, we’re not alone in our lack of a plan.
Still, with a bit of cookie dough, a strong drink and some good friends, we can get through anything.
The ability to find humour in tricky situations isn’t always easy, so it’s good to know that we can often rely on the Friends gang to show us how it’s done. Here’s to 26 years since the series’ release, and to many, many more re-watches in the future.
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Topics: Featured, Anniversary, Friends, Now