Thursday, February 05, 2004

Never saw a meaningful TV advert. I don't think shopping is a metaphor for life. Don't waste my time at the gym in the morning. Try to keep trim by living my life

There are some things in life that you have no intention of changing but you still feel compelled to apologise for.

For me Friends is one of those.

It doesn't fit in with my idea of good TV. It's not exactly ethically sound. In many ways it's the American dream in all its most glossy superficialness.

I think I first got into it about a year after it kicked off. A new flatmate had a couple of episodes she'd videoed and on a bored Saturday evening when I was stuck in (skint) I watched them.

Then I watched the next televised episode. Then I was taping the televised episodes. Then I was buying the boxsets of the episodes I'd missed. Tragic.

Tonight, all these years later, I was rather embarrassingly excited because the first episode of the last ever series was shown. It was the usual - about four giggles all told. All the characters have moved from cardboard cutouts to parodies of themselves and the laugh track is still too loud.

But yet again it was great.

I don't have a Friends obsession. Let me state that quite clearly. I have long since stopped taping them and the boxed sets were left at a friend's house years ago and I didn't care enough to ask for them back. But, yes, it is true that somewhere over the years it has embedded itself into my viewing habits.

I have satellite. This means hundreds of channels but still usually very little on. I try to veer towards something intelligent while my flatmate thinks Malcom in the Middle is, apparently, well-observed. He will also gladly watch the same surf movies over and over again. However, we agree on Friends and when on those winter evenings when we can't (unbelievably) find anything to watch, we'll switch to a Friends re-run.

I am sure that I have watched every episode screened to date. However, I still kid myself that there might be a lost episode that I somehow conspired to miss first time around, or forgot to video or never caught the repeat.

Occasionally I'll start watching an episode and I'll exclaim: "I haven't seen this one". Then within five minutes I realise I have. There are other episodes like the pilot edition that I have seen more times than I care to remember and it wasn't even that funny in the first place. Then there are the classics like the two episodes concerned with Chandler peeing on Monica's leg and Joey having "dug me a hole".

As with my flatmate and myself, I found when traveling, that Friends is also the backpacker's TV compromise of choice. You don't get to see that much TV but I can recall watching an episode in San Salvador with an Argentinian and a Swede and all three of us giggled our four times. Later I got drunk with the Argentinian and we dismissed the Falklands with a "what was all that about" shrug and he slagged off Galtieri while I bad-mouthed Thatcher.

But back to Friends. There is a negative side to it. Ross now has a black girlfriend but I'm still struggling to think of a black central character up to this point. And just how does a waitress afford a Manhattan loft apartment? Also, can we blame the whole Starbucks phenomenon on the coffee drinking culture of the Friend's crew?

They live in a bubble. Nothing really effects them. What's worse the show effects everyone. The haircuts, the language, the speech patterns and the catch phrases have all become over-used around the world.

In the same way that bunking off from school, and watching Neighbours, introduced barbie, tinnie and dag to the British vocabulary you are now likely to hear your own friends say: "how you doin", "could I BE...." or any other sentence with the word "dude" in it.

Mind, I suppose that you can't blame the show itself for that. And while it has enriched my life it has only annoyed me in much smaller measures. I'll be sad when it ends and I've promised myself that when it does I won't watch anymore re-runs.

So there's a dozen or so shows left till the final curtain. Then again, if I'm on my travels by the time the spin-off series Joey starts then I can look forward to coming home and having a catch-up-box-set-extravaganza.

And while we're making admitting embarrassing likes - I'm addicted to Big Brother too. And I am very very sorry.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.