I HAD/HAVE NO PLANS TO WATCH the Friends reunion/reboot or whatever the hell it is. On principle I am against nearly all reunion shows/reboots/remakes/remodels. Each one of these projects appears to reek of the desperation, lack of vision and originality which mires 21st century Hollywood. It’s the DNA of the endless superhero movies released every year and of every pointless remake regardless of screen size.
Hollywood has always been awful, of course, yet this current regime of studios and executives indicate a new creative low, aside from the stunning relevancy of original cable TV programming. Otherwise it’s an endless parade of retreads, rotten identity politics and other ideas best left on the shelf.
As I’ve written before I’m mildly puzzled by the continual success of Friends, especially its embrace by the dreaded class of people known as “Millennials.” Friends may be only slightly less avoidable as it was during its heyday in the 1990s. It’s the centerpiece of “Nick at Nite,” fodder for popular memes and commercials.
Superficially I may conceive of just what might be so appealing to some 19 year old college freshman who can’t stop watching reruns of a show as old or older than they are. It helps to have an attractive, photogenic cast with easily identifiable and memorable archetypal characters, to be funny enough, to be a deceptively lightweight comedy which sneaks in more dramatic elements than you might be expecting, and for the show to be the equivalent of “comfort food.” Friends was never lobster or steak tartare or a bottle of burgundy. It’s a topped baked potato and Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese.
Not all but certainly the overwhelming majority of the show’s followers then as well as now are middle class Caucasians. Though the ditzy blonde “Phoebe” made a living as a surrogate mother, the “Ross” character was a proxy for the show to dive into less vanilla waters via his personal life. A Lesbian displaces his ex-girlfriend! His next girlfriend should be Black!
I found the latter storyline detour to be far more insulting than the show’s perceived “whiteness.” Both Friends and its instructive, comparable companion Seinfeld were frequently criticized in some quarters for their lack of racial and ethnic diversity. The central argument made by the “woke” crowd of the time was to blast these two shows for their lack of “inclusion” since both shows were set in the undoubtedly “multi-cultural” New York City.
Which of course was a deceitful, dishonest lie—and they knew it, yet never brave enough to admit. It’s the “feelings vs. facts” argument which dominates 21st century America; especially on social media as the Left secularist have made a religion of social justice/multiculturalism/inclusion. The “feeling” is that society must be a racial utopia on all levels, and that this philosophy of life should be promoted by all means even if it means abolishing universal standards of college admissions and denouncing free expression in art to mold propaganda.
Yet, as everyone knows, the facts of life is that America(and the world) remains largely and willingly segregated. The uncomfortable truth which some can not admit to is that people still chiefly prefer to associate “with their own kind,” regardless of the flowery speech promulgated by the Left. The duplicity of the white Left is that in their absurd over veneration of Black people— “white liberal guilt” to the point of comic masochism—is to ignore that the great majority of Black people also prefer to primarily be with other Black people.
In its ridiculous, unsatisfying final episode Seinfeld tried to make both make light of and rectify its own “race” problem. As the saying goes it didn’t know well when to leave alone.
The “objectionable” whiteness of both shows only reversed the racial makeup of nearly every “Black” sitcom which has ever existed. Who was complaining about the lack of diversity on Martin, Living Single, Girlfriends, et al. All set in major, “multicultural” cities(although Martin featured presumably Black Detroit). Birds of a feather flock together. Yes, birds mingle in overlapping groups of species around bird feeders and your back lawn and they flee from predators in droves, but, you know the rest.
Seinfeld consisted of a white Jewish metropolitan quirkiness which obviously those outside of those peculiars could relate to and find endearing. During its run I watched only a handful of episodes in their entirety and saw snippets of dozens more, albeit in syndication. I wasn’t offended or put off by its Semitic premise, since I remain a Woody Allen fan and believe that it was a great miscarriage of justice that Toni Morrison and not Phillip Roth won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Indeed I was overly smitten with the show’s central female lead, “Elaine” played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I thought she was as attractive female presence as any on television during that era, and if the show had been solely about her I would have been more disposed to stick around.
I never latched onto the show because I didn’t find its titular lead remotely funny. His sidekicks, yes yes yes. But the protagonist. Nope. And I still don’t.
Subjectively what was the turnoff about Friends? I laughed when I actually watched an episode. The male characters didn’t seem “jerky.” And to be honest the female leads were like a trio of swans. People and the media were obsessing over something more than the comic timings of Jennifer Anniston, Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow. during the show’s run. I guess the men were handsome enough, but the women were beyond stunning. Compared to Aniston who became America’s sweetheart and the Southern Belle Courtney Cox, Kudlow was an unconventional accompanist. She may not be “classically” beautiful but that’s only in comparison to her co-stars. The character’s joyful esprit animated her above anyone in the show, which made her strangely more sexy than the very pretty but vanilla Aniston and even sultrier Cox.
Guessing in retrospect the show was too “cutesy” for my test, a symmetry of formulaic convinces. 3 ladies! 3 dudes! Living in a hyper sanitized New York City! No thanks, I said then.
What about now?
What about the trailer which shut down the Internet?
The moment I heard the noxious British tones of James Corden as moderator I knew I would not be tuning in. Beyond his questionable ubiquity in American pop culture(another symbol of our Roman decadence) it’s 2 minutes of treacly cuteness which may be your Starbucks of choice but I’m better off avoiding. All that I blathered above was amplified throughout the trailer. Too cute, too annoying, too vanilla. I don’t begrudge the anticipation and excitement from their fan base; I’m happy for them. Anything “positive” which can bring joy to people in these troubling times is not to be sneered at. Friends is a comfort food like any other comfort food. Some people gobble up mac ‘n’ cheese at every opportunity. Some people eat it randomly and some never at all. Some people eat humus or guac. Others abstain from them on sight alone.
Then central selling point of Friends is their likeability and communal togetherness, visceral elements to lure in an audience. People could relate to them or project a fantasy of themselves with the cast, creating in their minds an idea, utopian community. Those people, which may be a legion, missed them when they were gone, whereas other people like me didn’t think about them while they went away. I like ’em but not that much. And that’s why I won’t be watching the reunion special. But if YOU do I hope it’s everything you anticipated and much, much more.
Vive la différence!