Follying around

Things in FRIENDS that you only notice when you’re an ADULT

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what things in Friends escaped our notice when we were younger.

Paulina Zdebik

28 March 2024

Certainly, you’ve probably noticed that the older you get, the more you notice and understand in movies or TV shows things that you didn’t see before. No different is the case with one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time, Friends. I suggest taking a moment to reflect on what things in Friends escaped our notice when we were younger.

The fact that you always have pizza at home is not as utopian a vision as it seemed in childhood.

The first time I encountered Friends was when I was still in elementary school. I remember being very surprised at how often the main characters eat pizza. I think you’ll agree with me that when you’re a little kid, it’s something you don’t eat every day, only on special occasions, for pleasure, something you have to earn. With time, it starts appearing more often in your life, from house party to house party, from friend to friend. Then comes the time to leave the family nest. And that’s the moment when – at least judging by me and my friends – pizza permanently enters your daily repertoire because you realize that it’s the most economical and versatile meal there is. So, it’s no wonder that it begins to appear more often in your home, and you start to notice that it wasn’t in Friends by chance but rather symbolizes that period in your life when you’re in your twenties, no one is holding you back, and yet you don’t have many responsibilities, so why not eat pizza as every meal of the day?

The fact that Central Perk warps spacetime and makes a Friends day much longer than an ordinary person's day.

The further into the woods, or adult life, I go, the more intensely I wonder if a day in Friends is twice as long as an average person’s day. If not, then how do the characters find time to spend whole days in their favorite café? The older they get, the more unrealistic it seems to climb the career ladder, establish stable relationships, raise children, and still be able to meet there so often and in such full force. Especially since each of them works in completely different places, at different times. You’ll surely agree with me that once you’ve started your professional career for good, gathering such a large group of friends in one place and time is quite a logistical challenge.

The fact that even though you theoretically have a better-paying job than the Friends, it doesn't mean you can afford as cool an apartment.

How can twenty-somethings who don’t make a fortune afford such apartments in the heart of New York City? This question surely crosses the mind of every adult who has encountered the overwhelming prices of real estate in a big city. Okay, Monica sublets her apartment from her grandmother, who moved to Florida, so she pays less than she should if she rented it in a normal way, that’s some explanation. But what about the rest of the Friends, who also live in Manhattan and can afford it even though their professions are not ones that boast huge earnings? Especially with Phoebe and Joey leading the way, who most of the time don’t even have a steady job? If Friends weren’t paid for hanging out at Central Perk, the amount of their paycheck compared to Manhattan apartment prices remains a big mystery.

The fact that Friends are often too gentle in their words when facing the problems of adult life.

In this regard, Friends are not an exception because it’s hard to find strong curses in most American TV shows due to restrictions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. However, when you’re younger, you don’t pay attention to it at all, but when you’re older and can somewhat identify with the situations the characters are in, you start to notice that it’s almost unbelievable not to start a juicy tirade in many of them. Interestingly, on the internet, you can find compilations of all the moments when Friends happened to curse – Rachel is leading in the number of curses and euphemisms replacing them!

The fact that New York in Friends is not believable due to the lack of racial diversity.

As a child, probably few of us paid attention to this, especially growing up in ethnically undiversified Poland, but watching Friends as an adult, the lack of racial diversity immediately catches the eye. The fact that all the main characters are white people is nothing extraordinary; as you can see, relatively recently, something started to change in this context in TV productions. However, since the action takes place in New York, one of the most racially diverse cities in the world, where one-third of the population was born outside the United States, it seems unlikely that all the people appearing in the lives of Friends are white – throughout all 10 seasons, I can remember only a few colored characters, always in episodic roles.

The fact that the ending of Friends is not as happy as it seemed to you (if, miraculously, you haven't seen the last episode, beware, spoilers!)

When I was little, it seemed to me that Friends had a happy ending – everyone smiling, starting a new chapter in their lives, with their loved ones by their side… But do they really all have a happy ending? What about Joey? Without a significant other, absolutely not at the peak of his career, with his best friends moving out to start a new life, left on his own. It didn’t happen without reason; the fact that Joey’s story was not properly concluded has a pragmatic explanation in the spin-off series featuring his character, aptly titled Joey, which, however, for obvious reasons, failed to replicate the success of Friends and was taken off the air halfway through the second season, ultimately leaving Joey without any happy ending.


Paulina Zdebik

By birth, a native of Gdańsk, and by place of residence - a Katowice, Parisian, and currently a Warsaw resident. A student at the Krzysztof Kieslowski Film School at the University of Silesia. On film sets, she feels most at home as a director or in costume design. Besides making films, she also enjoys writing about them. A big fan of "A Clockwork Orange," Xavier Dolan, Yorgos Lanthimos, the French New Wave, and...horror films.

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