How big a part of your life is Friends? Not the people you hang out or text with on a daily basis, but, rather, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe. Did you watch the show in its original run? Been catching reruns on TBS or any number of other channels? Endlessly streaming it on Netflix to the point where you need an intervention? Maybe you’re just sitting around pining for that long-hoped-for reunion (stop it; go outside and get some fresh air). Whatever it may be, you can get your Friends fix from author Kelsey Miller and her new book, I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends.
We sat down with Kelsey for the first episode of CloserWeekly.com’s Classic TV & Film podcast to talk about Friends, her book, and, yes, that long-hoped-for reunion. Things kicked off with an exploration of why the show remains so popular, which she credits to a combination of nostalgia and a more innocent time. Now to us, being the fans of classic TV that we are, this sounded a little… odd. Terms like that usually bring to mind The Andy Griffith Show or The Brady Bunch, and not a show that debuted in 1994.
“But it has the same sort of effect that the shows you mentioned have,” counters Kelsey, “which is simply the fact that when something is in the past, it’s very easy to think of it as simpler or easier because it’s so removed from today. Think about it: if you watch Friends, nobody’s staring at their phone all the time, because there was no such things as smartphones. You look at that and you think, ‘I remember when people had conversations.’ At the same time, the show has a really universal and timeless heart to it, and it’s very relatable because it’s simply about friendship. That’s an experience that everybody has regardless of smartphones; we’re just looking at it through this 25-year-old lens, so it seems a little rosier.”
The book had its inspiration, as Kelsey explains it, back when there was a big resurgence of interest in Friends several years ago. “That’s when it became very popular to not only look back nostalgically at the show, but it also became popular to critique the show,” she says. “I had previously written both of those kinds of pieces, and I realized that I had a lot of stories in me and a lot of opinions about the show. I started to have conversations with my agent about writing a Friends book, but I thought I was a Friends fan in the way that everybody was. I didn’t think I was one of the diehards. But as it turned out, when I actually sat down to think about it, I realized, ‘God, this show had a much bigger impact, not just on television and not just on haircuts, fashion, and things like that. It really had an impact on a global scale.’ This is the show that eventually made it to 170-something countries.”
And this is the conversation about the show that inspired I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends. Welcome to Closerweekly.com’s Classic TV & Film podcast.