Like most hard-core Friends fans, I also watched the reunion episode the second it aired on Zee5.
Of course, it was nostalgic. Of course, it took me back to how I felt when I first saw some of the most iconic moments – like when Ross first said “I take thee, Rachel”, and Monica and Chandler found love (or rather, lust), even as Ross’ love jumped out of the window.
And the million other moments from the show that live rent-free in my heart, and come to my rescue whenever I am flirting or stuck in a conversation or feeling awkward (which is always), came rushing back.
Because FRIENDS is to sitcoms what Rajma Chawal is to Indian cuisine or rather, what cheesecake from Mama’s Little Bakery is to Friends – it can please everybody and it did.
And even when we discover new cuisines, the joy that Rajma Chawal brings is hard to replace.
I first discovered Friends as a school student and to a large extent, it shaped my view of what I thought adulting looks like.
As the reunion episode proved, I wasn’t the only one – not by a long shot. People, from across the globe, talked about how the show saved lives. And it has.
Because on a dark day, the word “pivot”, alone, is enough to get me cracking up.
Because Mondler is the reason I still carry a little hope in the corner of my heart for a Chandler, despite my less-than-stellar dating history (high-five Monica).
Because Phoebe convinced me to embrace my quirks and Joey taught me what it means to be there for your friends.
Because Ross and Rachel, like many things about a show shot in the 90s, may have not been ideal or aged well, but they were very much in love. And sometimes, a little bit of love goes a long way.
Over the years, I discovered new shows (The Office is great, Parks and Recreation is even better, but Schitt’s Creek tops the charts). I discovered I was drawn to dark comedies and loved silly reality shows.
I learned and unlearned a great deal about representation, and understood why we need to be more inclusive in art and in life. But through it all, I could not let go of Friends.
Because it bridged generational gaps and gave topics that remained common to my mom, me, and my really young siblings. Because though it was not a perfect show, it was real (where it counted).
How else would a show set in the US be relatable to a kid growing up in a small town in India?
Who else would have taught my young, teenage self, that motherhood was more than just biology and women had 7 erogenous zones in their bodies? Certainly not those non-existent sex-ed classes!
Or made me realize, that you could fall in love with a friend and it could go either way – as Monica or Chandler, or as Joey and Rachel. And both options were okay. And that, even after three divorces, you could be “fine”.
I could wax lyrical even more than I already have about what the show meant to me, and why I find myself returning to it. But this isn’t about that.
It’s about that one core thing that Friends did that made it immemorial. The show told us that ‘life was gonna be this way. That our job will be a joke, we will be broke and our love life will be DOA. But even when it hasn’t been our day, our week, our month, or our year, Friends will be there for us!’.