TV that shaped a generation: In celebration of 15 years of Friends

by Lynn Connolly

Friends has been a global phenomenon and has shaped a generation, both here in the UK and in the USA so as this year is its 15th year anniversary, we thought we’d take a look at the effect this unique series had on a whole generation who grew up watching it.

Life before Friends was a dark world where nobody would admit that men had fantasies about lesbians, but Friends made it totally acceptable. Friends made a generation believe that their friends are the most important people in the world and that it’s ok to have platonic relationships with the opposite gender…

Friends taught us to show affection and gave the green light for men to hug openly, even if they aren’t gay. Millions of people have adopted Friends-speak into their everyday life such as “Nuh huh! So did not!” and “I’m right here!”

Each character gave the world a gift; Joey showed pretty men everywhere that it’s ok to be dumb if you’re beautiful. Ross made geeks popular and accepted by society and Chandler reassured the legion of males out there that even when everyone assumes you’re gay, you can in fact pull.

Phoebe gave the world its innocence back while Rachel gave us some of the best haircuts we’ve ever had. Monica proved that fat girls can become cool girls and she became the envy of everyone in my house – well, just me actually – when she had a fling with Tom Selleck.

The emotional finale of Friends was watched by 51.1 million viewers in the US when at long last, the will-they-won’t-they with Ross and Rachel was answered and Monica got her longed for babies.

In New York, the final episode was shown on a big screen in Times Square and was watched by 3,000 people from a park overlooking the Hudson River. The final show was screened here on Channel 4 on 28th May 2004 and I cried. The really sad thing is, I still do! E4 has Friends on a loop so I’ve seen that final episode dozens of times, and it still makes me blub like a girl.

Friends made its debut in 1994 and immediately struck a chord with viewers. In rapid time, it became an international must-see and spawned every kind of merchandise imaginable from calendars, notebooks, mugs and T-shirts to video and DVD box sets and even copycat haircuts.

The cast of Friends become overnight superstars and household names in almost every country on the planet. As a consequence, the cast saw their pay climb to $1m each per episode during the entire course of the show.

The show was also a magnet for big name Hollywood stars who queued up to make guest appearances, including Julia Roberts, Charlie Sheen, Bruce Willis and Tom Selleck. It also featured cameos from Brad Pitt and David Arquette, the real-life husbands of Aniston and Arquette respectively. In fact, one of my favourite episodes is the one with Brad Pitt. Here’s a clip of it…

He was so fit then wasn’t he? I used to have rude thoughts about him… still do if I’m honest.

I’m sure you’ve all seen every episode of Friends so instead of showing more clips from the broadcast episodes, I thought we’d celebrate the show with a montage of bloopers starting with series 1 going right through to series 10. Enjoy but be aware the some scenes contain sweary naughty words…

Friends, you’ve been a good friend… Let’s hope it’s still being shown in another 15 years!


Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.