Hollywood sitcoms were never the same after Friends, and here's one major reason why.
was not just a TV show. It was a cultural phenomenon. And the hints were there right from the start. The show garnered 22 million views when its first episode was aired in 1994. A number that became 52 million when it aired its 236th episode in 2004 (the last in its 10-year run). Of course, , but fans do not agree. And the appeal of hasn't lessened even now after two decades since the show closed its curtains.
But did you know that dramatically changed the way sitcoms were done in Hollywood? Or that it was pretty progressive for its time and influenced that generation (and future ones) to be more accepting of people's differences?
They focused on romance or careers. And when they did focus on friendships, they focused on same-gender friendships like and did.
, without immediately pairing up all the guys with the girls. It was not pseudo-coed. It was a genuine co-ed friendship.
And it showed people that co-ed friendships are not a myth, unlike popular adages by disgruntled people that say 'guys and girls can never be friends.'
As it happened with Chandler and Monica, although they weren't immediately a pair from the get-go. And then between Joey and Rachel, although .
There were a lot of couples on ! But they didn't detract from the storyline or overshadow the friendship angle, which kept the core concept firm and gave the show its timeless, feel-good quality.
Of course, the fact that the cast grew close over time also helped influence the show. Actors act. It should be intuitive, but most people forget that.
That's why the dynamics viewers see on the screen may not be a true reflection of the dynamics between the actors behind the scenes.
Like Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker who played best friends on but .
That wasn't the case with the cast.
In fact, David Schwimmer is credited as being and supportive relationship.
After the first season was aired, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer became crowd favorites. This immediately bumped up their per-episode salary in the second season to almost double that of the rest of the main cast.
Schwimmer convinced them all to re-negotiate with the network in the third season as a team and get equal pay. And this fostered a really healthy environment on set for all the actors.
actors applied this strategy on their set too. And by the 5th season, they were all earning $1 million per episode.
Once became a solid thing in Hollywood, and capitalize on the friendship trend in television history. And the similarities were eerie, like with .
Their version of Chandler and Monica was Marshall and Lily. Then they had the clownish statement character Barney for ' Joey.
But the audience isn't complaining. It made good television and made people aspire to have a friends circle as lively as the ones they saw on TV. And then that aspiration trickled onto the internet through memes.
also brought a very interesting change to sitcom formats by juggling multiple plot points in every episode, so the characters remained of equal importance (which was essential for the plot line).
This strategy made the show funnier, crisper, and easier to watch, regardless of when viewers turned on their TV. Even if it was in the middle of an episode! And the audience rewarded the show for not being a bore.
For viewers who had a primarily female friend group, they could relate to the friendship dynamics between Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica. Including the fights and misunderstandings that come with the territory.
If they instead had a primarily male friend group, viewers could relate to Joey, Chandler, and Ross and their boys-only dynamics. And if viewers had a coed circle, for once they had something to relate to on TV. And it was great to see platonic friendships between the genders.
was comedy, but it was not stupid. And it appealed to the masses for all the right reasons, which is why it hasn't lost its appeal even after all these years.