Friends remains as iconic now as it was in the ’90s

The sitcom "Friends" first aired in 1994 and its last episode aired in 2004. Nearly two decades later, the show remains as iconic as it was in the '90s.Claire Boston | Multimedia Journalist

By Madison Day | Assistant News Editor

March 1, 2015 — the day that changed it all. This is the day all 236 episodes of Friends were made available on Netflix, which ultimately sparked a cultural phenomenon in our generation.

Friends first aired in 1994 and ended in 2004, a time when we were just wee little ones roaming around the playground carrying our beanie babies or sitting on the couch playing leap frog. Along with “Seinfeld,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and other ‘90s classics, these shows were iconic in their time and many, in particular Friends, have plausibly remained just as popular now.

You can ask almost any 20-something, and they are bound to have seen every episode or at least have watched multiple Friends marathons on “Nick at Nite.” According to a poll surveying around 100 college students, 70% of students have seen every episode of Friends and around 40% of them have seen every episode more than one time.

Just recently, “Friends” fanatics broke out in a tizzy when they saw the January 2019 expiration date on the Friends page on Netflix. Jacksonville, Fla. sophomore and avid Friends fan Hannah Reese loves to rewatch the show in her free time and was upset when she saw the looming expiration date.

“When I saw that they were taking friends off Netflix, I was super bummed. It’s my go to show that I rewatch in order or just pick random episodes to watch depending on my mood. So, if it was no longer on Netflix, I wouldn’t be able to do that which would’ve been awful,” Reese said.

Atlanta sophomore Jenna Cwalina was also shocked by this news, but she wasn’t too upset since a lot of the shows air on television daily.

“I wasn’t going to go tweet about it or anything, but I was shocked. The good thing though is that a lot of the episodes are on TV or YouTube a lot, so I wasn’t terribly upset,” Cwalina said.

But shortly after the outcry, Netflix announced Friends would be available for at least another year on their platform. However, this came at a price for Netflix. According to the New York Times, Netflix spent around $100 million dollars to keep the hit show on their platform, as opposed to the $30 million a year they had previous paid to Warner Media to stream the show.

So why is this ‘90s sitcom so popular today with us millennials and GenZ?

Well for one, we can all relate to the themes of love and friendship and everything that comes with it. It’s a carefree and joyful show filled with everyday life moments.

“My favorite thing about friends is the lightheartedness of it. It is funny and very much about friends just living their day-to-day lives together. I think people in our generation love friends so much because it’s so timeless. The issues and subjects of the show are not issues and subjects of the ‘90s but are relevant to young adults today in their 20s. I think it’s entertaining for people in our generation to watch something that they can relate to and find humor in, but it’s also so different from our lives — sans the online universe we live in today,” Reese said.

In addition to the fun, lightheartedness of the show, it’s also a nostalgia that we’re attracted to when we watch Friends. Whereas we can relate to the basic themes of the show, there’s also this element of fantasy present. A time where there were no smartphones, no portable computers or Apple Watches. When you went to a coffee shop, you just sat there and chatted with friends. You didn’t hop right on your phone while you sipped your latte, ignoring all the humans around you.

In a way, I think we folks in our 20s are almost yearning for that again — a simpler time when you didn’t have to worry about how many likes you got on your post or keeping your snapchat streaks alive.

Friends is about human connection. It is about everyday human relationships, and with the growth of technology we have lost a lot of those little moments of human connection that Friends often displays.

For example, it is far less likely that you’ll meet a new lover while you pick up your morning coffee these days, because typically as you’re in line or waiting on your drink, you’re engrossed in whatever is on your mobile device.

Friends is classic, timeless and relatable, but it also gives us a glimpse into the seemingly simple life in the ‘90s.