Grade:  A-

TV Comedy


So no one told you life was going to be this way?

Your job’s a joke, you’re broke

your love life’s D.O.A.

It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear. . . .

In February 1994, those lyrics kicked off a series about six unmarried friends in their 20s and early 30s who shared apartments and hung out together all the time, often offering emotional support and sometimes hooking up. Monica (Courtney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) were high school friends, just as Monica’s brother Ross (David Schwimmer) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) were also friends from the same area school. To that mix was added the streetwise but flaky Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and ladies man wannabe actor Joey (Matt LeBlanc).

Friends struck a chord with young adults because they could identify with characters who were out of school and in the “real” world, though they didn’t feel like real adults just yet because they were between being college students and being settled in jobs and marriages. A 2019 survey revealed that a whopping 19 percent of respondents age 18-34 had watched everysingle episode of the show, which ran for 10 years, while another 30 percent said they had watched most episodes. 

Given how many channels and streaming options there are, that’s pretty amazing. But the 35-54 year olds were even more devoted, with 17 percent saying they had watched all the episodes and 41 percent most of them. A Childwise report also noted that the comedy was the favorite program of young people in the UK, though few of the 5-16 year olds polled were even alive when the show was first broadcast.

Friends was rated #21 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest Shows of All Time. It finished #1 in Season 8 and placed in the Nielsen Top 10 every other year, though Emmy voters were slower to warm to the show. It finally won Outstanding Comedy Series that 8th season, when Aniston also won for Outstanding Lead Actress.

Thinking about how wildly successful the series has been, I can’t help but wonder if it’s in part because the show seems to check ALL eight characters of comedy, as described by Scott Sedita, even though there are only six characters in the show: 

Ross, with his Ph.D., is “the logical smart one” whose humor is usually tongue-in-cheek or ironic.

Chandler, with his man-child insecurity and bad luck with women, is “the lovable loser” who takes refuge in self-deprecating humor.

Neat-freak and control-freak Monica is “the neurotic,” given her OCD nature and how she can tell instantly upon entering a room if anything has been moved even slightly.

Joey is “the dumb one,” who often doesn’t know what’s going on, though Phoebe might also qualify at times.

“The womanizer or manizer” is clearly Joey again, who, unlike the other males Friends, has no trouble picking up women.

Rachel is “the materialistic one,” the spoiled one who came from money, has rich tastes, and seems to be more driven by money and nice things than the others.

Phoebe is “in their own universe,” a flaky hippie-style character who has her own ideas and ways of thinking and looking at things that can be a little “out there.”

All of which is to say, Friends is first and foremost a comedy of characters that are easy to love, supported by some very smart writing, rapid fire gags, situations that are actually comedic, and plots that are both self-contained in every episode but still progressive from episode to episode and from season to season. 

Friends: The Complete Series on Blu-ray includes all 234 episodes (plus two variations) on 21 discs, housed in three Blu-ray cases (#1—Seasons 1-5; #2 Seasons 6-10; #3 Bonus disk), tucked into a slipcase along with a full-color 36-page booklet that includes a list of episodes for the whole run and annotations to jog your memory. Twenty hours of bonus content is included, one-fifth of which is original and new to this release. Among them are the “Super-Sized” episodes from Season 7.

Fans of the show will enjoy this Blu-ray release, and if you haven’t gotten it yet, here are two reasons to do so:  1) You won’t be at the mercy of whatever streamers decide to make available, and 2) By upgrading your DVD collection with this Blu-ray set you will be able to watch Friends in high definition and save shelf space. The single-season DVD collections span 11.5”, while this compact Blu-ray complete series only takes up 2.75”. If you’re a collector or love having a home video library that you can watch commercial and hassle free, whenever you want, this set is a great investment. It looks great on Blu-ray. And yeah, no buffering every time extreme weather screws up the signal.

Entire family:  No (‘tweens and older)

Run time:  5192 min., Color

Studio/Distributor:  Warner Bros.

Aspect ratio:  1.78:1

Featured audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1

Bonus features:  B

Amazon link


Rated TV-14

Language:  4/10—I may recall one F-bomb, but the majority of swearwords are milder curse (hell, damn, crap, damn, ass, etc.)

Sex:  6/10—Lots of innuendo, some references to sex parts, strip poker, characters in underwear, lots of sexual references and escapades, but after all is said and done very little is show—only implied, as people are under the covers, etc.

Violence:  2/10—Some adult bullying, reference to bullying, comic fighting, and the occasional punch

Adult Situations:  4/10—Lots of drinking, some smoking, suicide references, infertility, parental abandonment, sex changes, awkward adult situations, etc., as well as references to drugs and getting high—but little in the way of actual drunkenness that I can recall; people get married, they get pregnant (not necessarily in that order), they are surrogate mothers,

Takeaway:  Smart TV somehow manages to have it both ways:  classic and current, and Friends was a perfect example; recently Aniston said a “whole generation of kids” finds Friends offensive, but morality and sensitivity is ever-changing. Yes, there were episodes that were insensitive to people with weight issues, etc., but I hope we never get to the point where humor is so socially corseted that there’s no room for laughter