Friends, an NBC sitcom, premiered in 1994 to mixed ratings and reviews, with many dismissing it as yet another in a long line of half-hour comedies that would be canceled within a few years. It was hard to believe that we’d just witnessed the premiere of not only one of the most successful, but also one of the most enduring sitcoms in history.
Friends, like another NBC sitcom that was underrated at the start, Seinfeld, would become a staple of 1990s pop culture and would continue to be a mainstay in the twenty-first century, well past its end-date, due to strong DVD sales and huge syndication success.
Friends recently made its digital debut on Netflix’s streaming library, where it met a whole new audience. Although the famous series is set to leave Netflix at the end of 2019 to become exclusive on WarnerMedia’s new streaming service HBO Max.
But, as the fall TV season approaches, when networks will debut a slew of new sitcoms that can only hope to match Friends’ level of success and enduring strength, now seems like a good time to take a look back at the NBC sitcom’s legacy season by season
Season 10 Review:
Friends’ final season was shorter than the others (due to the cast’s agreement to return), and although it might be a little sillier than the later seasons, it has its own unique charms. In episodes like “The One with Ross’s Tan,” where the whole idea is that Ross is having a spray tan, David Schwimmer shines.
He sells it brilliantly, and the way he depicts Ross’s reaction to the whole Rachel/Joey debacle helps to soften the blow of that particular story option. The season also features a fair amount of Paul Rudd as Phoebe’s soon-to-be-husband Mike Hannigan, and more Paul Rudd is never a bad thing. The chemistry between Rudd and Kudrow is amazing, and an episode like “The One with Princess Consuela” is a good display of their humorous aesthetics.
And, of course, there’s the grand finale. Kauffman and Crane nail it with a two-part series finale that doesn’t sacrifice the show’s trademark humor in favor of nonstop emotions—though there are plenty of those as well. It’s difficult not to be elated seeing Rachel return to Ross’ apartment, despite their relationship’s ups and downs and skepticism. Despite the fact that we all knew she was getting off that plane.
Though Season 10 might not have been the best of them all, it did a decent job of wrapping up the main characters’ storylines – with the exception of Joey, who got his own spinoff series. Friends would have lost its audience’s trust and consistency if it had been renewed after season 10, but by knowing when to finish, it was able to save its legacy as one of the best series of all time.