So if you’re anything like me (and odds are if you’re reading this), then you’ve probably sat down to watch re-runs of Friends for the 50th time through and wondered what it would be like if the show were set in present day. Well folks, we are going to ponder (out loud) that very idea and blow your mind in the process.
Okay, so you know how Chandler and Ross and Phoebe and Rachel and Monica never really age in the show (because let’s be honest, Matthew LeBlanc gets old and sorta fat towards the end)? Besides the haircuts, there really isn’t much that changes outside of the horrible ’90s fashion trends that essentially got even more out of control once shown on TV. But there’s some obvious-er things to consider. Cameras are really good these days and HD is in full effect everywhere. The friends would either go heavier on the makeup or lose it altogether.
While they had some trials and tribulations (mostly related to relationships….with each other), there were no issues with drugs- which is actually ironic because Matthew Perry actually did have a problem with drugs at one point. And if the openness sexuality were at the levels it is now, Phoebe might have been a lesbian if only for a short amount of time. Sure, Ross’ ex-wife was a lesbian, but Carol really wasn’t featured all that often and eventually they got rid of the character AND the son! What the fuck ever happened to Ben?!? I remember him going on a casting call in tandem with Joey and never hearing from the kid again. Perhaps the Big Daddy kid was just too annoying? Anyone else secretly want to punch him in the face? Just me? Okay, I’ll move on.
We know the group of Friends best for their morning meetings in Central Perk so well that it’s actually a place in New York City now. But how many 20-somethings do you know that get coffee as a big group together every morning? Sure, maybe it happens in Portland or some other hippie/hipster area where lounging around is more public and there’s less sense of urgency in the mornings, but that would never happen in New York City. And more to the point, for however played out, didn’t it make sense to hang out in a bar? You might say that’s so overdone. But didn’t it work in Cheers and How I Met Your Mother? And those two shows are comfortably cushioned outside of the air date of Friends.
All too often the friends met new people and you never really found out how. They just started dating randoms and you had to accept it. But these days the dating experience is magnified and the different apps, websites, and other general tools are out there if you don’t just wanna do it the old-fashioned way. Every so often there’s an ugly duckling like David Schwimmer that comes along and snags a Jennifer Aniston-type. It really happens. I know. I don’t get it either. But for the most part, girls that are that hot don’t just settle for the nice in the group because they had a high school crush. There’s millions of people in NYC and they never have a couple other friends that are introduced to the group for even a short amount of time? I don’t buy it. And neither would this generation. Everyone has different sets of friends with a couple best friends as their go-tos. In that atmosphere it’s just not happening.
Anyone that’s lived through this job market knows that it sucks. Finding a good job in New York City is that much tougher. So how is it that Rachel can get an interview (or was it job offer?) with a top fashion label? She sends in her resume and then somehow gets a call-back. Obviously the internet is vastly different than it was in 1994 or even 2004, but accessibility doesn’t make things any easier and you know that’s not the kind of job that they just give away to pretty girls with no experience. If she’s lucky maybe she’s working in retail in Times Square or Madison Avenue or wherever it would have been, but jumping into a corporate home office doesn’t have unless your last name is Trump or Branson.
And back to the bar topic, even if they aren’t hanging out at the bar they never really show them out drinking with each other or anyone else. I seriously can’t remember an episode where you see it. Yes, they go to Atlantic City and Las Vegas and get “wasted”, but you don’t even really actually see them at a bar and it def never actually happens in the city. The only thing that I can confidently say that would stay the absolute same would be Joey being a man-whore.
The entirety of the show begins with the group in their early 20s, so starting a family and moving to Long Island and all those other things that the group inevitably did are realistic. But the fun and craziness and over-the-top stupid shit that happens to us at that age just was never there. Don’t get me wrong, I love Friends and will continue to watch it over and over on Netflix till the end of time, but not only would these friends be different if the show happened now, but they’d probably be pretty different if depicted a little more accurately then.
For a series that brought “The Rachel” as a popular haircut for girls (even though Monica had the same one) and made The Rembrandts one-hit wonder “I’ll Be There For You” a song that will last the test of time, you can only shutter at the different topics that would otherwise be showcased if Friends were a popular show now. We wouldn’t ever see these people talking about turning up and whatever obnoxious terms that continue to get shoved down mainstream America’s throat. But we’d certainly see a curvier JenAn and Courtney Cox-whatever her name is. And while Joey’s outfits wouldn’t really change (does anything change about him?), the other guys would probably not dress so f-ing nerdy all the time (i.e. Chandler would wear warmups at home instead of dress slacks and Ross would either not wear any sweaters or he would always wear them-with button-downs underneath.
Friends would still be the beacon of all things sitcom awesomeness. And whether you were watching it 11 years from now after the final episode or 11 hours later on some sort of streaming, it would always be good. Because the characters and what they stood for is what keeps us coming back. Character flaws are a part of what makes television interesting and relatable. It’s what gives us the opportunity to feel empathy for them and makes the content of two decades ago still relevant even if the subject matter has changed drastically. Friends will hopefully be frozen in time and replayed and re-watched by all of us for years to come.