Critical reception

 

David Schwimmer received considerable praise for his role as Ross. Early reviews of the series were mixed. Tom Feran of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that the series traded “vaguely and less successfully on the hanging-out style of Seinfeld”, while Ann Hodges of the Houston Chronicle called it “the new Seinfeld wannabe, but it will never be as funny as Seinfeld.” In the Los Angeles Daily News, Ray Richmond named the series as “one of the brighter comedies of the new season”, and The Los Angeles Times called it “flat-out the best comedy series of the new season”.

 

Chicago Sun-Times’ Ginny Holbert found Joey and Rachel’s characteristics to be underdeveloped, while Richmond commended the cast as a “likeable, youth ensemble” with “good chemistry” Robert Bianco of USA Today was complimentary of Schwimmer, calling him “terrific”. He also praised the female leads, but was concerned that Perry’s role as Chandler was “undefined” and that LeBlanc was “relying too much on the same brain-dead stud routine that was already tired the last two times he tried it”. The authors of Friends Like Us: The Unofficial Guide to Friends thought that the cast was “trying just a little too hard”, in particular Perry and Schwimmer.

 

As the series progressed, reviews became more positive, and F.R.I.E.N.D.S became one of the most popular sitcoms of its time. Critics commended the series for its consistently sharp writing and the chemistry between the main actors. Noel Holston of Newsday, who had dismissed the pilot as a “so-so Seinfeld wannabe” in 1994, reneged his review after rewatching the episode, and felt like writing an apology to the writers. Heather Havrilesky of Salon.com thought that the series “hit its stride” in the second season. Havrilesky found the character-specific jokes and situations “could reliably make you laugh out loud a few times each episode”, and the quality of writing allowed the stories to be “original and innovative”. Bill Carter of The New York Times called the eighth season a “truly stunning comeback”. Carter found that by “generating new hot story lines and high-decibel laughs”, the series made its way “back into the hearts of its fans”. However, Liane Bonin of Entertainment Weekly felt that the direction of the ninth season was a “disappointing buzzkill”, criticizing it for the non-stop celebrity guest spots and going into jump the shark territory. Although disappointed with the season, Bonin noted that “the writing [was] still sharp”. Havrilesky thought that the tenth season was “alarmingly awful, far worse than you would ever imagine a show that was once so good could be.” F.R.I.E.N.D.S was featured on Time’s list of “The 100 Best TV Shows of All-Time”, saying, “the well-hidden secret of this show was that it called itself F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and was really about family.

 

“It may have been impossible for any one episode to live up to the hype and expectations built up around the F.R.I.E.N.D.S finale, but this hour probably came as close as fans could have reasonably hoped. Ultimately, the two-hour package did exactly what it was supposed to do. It wrapped up the story while reminding us why we liked the show and will miss it.”

Reviews of the series finale were mixed to positive. USA Today’s Robert Bianco described the finale as entertaining and satisfying, and praised it for deftly mixing emotion and humor while showcasing each of the stars. Sarah Rodman of the Boston Herald praised Aniston and Schwimmer for their acting, but felt that their characters’ reunion was “a bit too neat, even if it was what most of the show’s legions of fans wanted.” Roger Catlin of The Hartford Courant felt that newcomers to the series would be “surprised at how laughless the affair could be, and how nearly every strained gag depends on the sheer stupidity of its characters.” Ken Parish Perkins, writing for Fort Worth Star-Telegram, pointed out that the finale was “more touching than comical, more satisfying in terms of closure than knee-slappingly funny.”

 

Awards

 

To maintain the series’ ensemble format, the main cast members decided to enter themselves in the same acting categories for awards. Beginning with the series’ eighth season, the actors decided to submit themselves in the lead actor balloting, rather than in the supporting actor fields. The series was nominated for 63 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning six. Aniston and Kudrow are the only main cast members to win an Emmy, while Cox is the only actor not to be nominated. The series won the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, with nominations in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2003. The series also won an American Comedy Award, one GLAAD Media Award, one Golden Globe Award, three Logie Awards, six People’s Choice Awards, one Satellite Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

 

Ratings

 

The table below indicates the ratings of F.R.I.E.N.D.S in the US, where it consistently ranked within the top ten of the final television ratings. “Rank” refers to how well F.R.I.E.N.D.S rated compared to other television series which aired during primetime hours of the corresponding television season. The television season tends to begin in September, and ends during the May of the following year, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. “Viewers” refers to the average number of viewers for all original episodes, broadcast during the television season in the series’ regular timeslot. “Rank” is shown in relation to the total number of series airing on the then-six major English-language networks in a given season. The “season premiere” is the date that the first episode of the season aired, and the “season finale” is the date that the final episode of the season aired.

Season Timeslot (EDT) Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 Thursday 8:30 P.M. (September 22, 1994 – February 23, 1995)
Thursday 9:30 P.M.(February 23, 1995 – May 18, 1995)

September 22, 1994

May 18, 1995

1994-1995

#8

17.9

2 Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 21, 1995 – January 18, 1996)
Sunday 10:13 P.M. (January 28, 1996)
Thursday 8:00 P.M. (February 1, 1996 – May 16, 1996)

September 21, 1995

May 16, 1996

1995-1996

#3

18.7

3 Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 19, 1996 – May 17, 2001) September 19, 1996 May 15, 1997 1996-1997 #4 15.7
4 September 25, 1997 May 7, 1998 1997-1998 #4 16.4
5 September 24, 1998 May 20, 1999 1998-1999 #2 23.5
6 September 23, 1999 May 18, 2000 1999-2000 #3 21.0
7 October 12, 2000 May 17, 2001 2000-2001 #4 19.7
8 Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 27, 2001 – October 4, 2001)
Thursday 8:50 P.M. (October 11, 2001)
Thursday 8:00 P.M. (October 18, 2001 – May 16, 2002)
September 27, 2001 May 16, 2002 2001-2002 #1 24.5
9 Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 26, 2002 – May 15, 2003) September 26, 2002 May 15, 2003 2002-2003 #4 21.8
10 Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 25, 2003 – April 29, 2004)
Thursday 9:00 P.M. (May 6, 2004)
September 25, 2003 May 6, 2004 2003-2004 #5 21.4

 

Cultural impact

 

Set of Central Perk at Warner Bros. StudiosAlthough the producers thought of Friends as “only a TV show”, numerous psychologists investigated the cultural impact of Friends during the series’ run. Aniston’s hairstyle was nicknamed “The Rachel”, and copied around the world. Joey’s catchphrase, “How you doin’?”, became a popular part of Western English slang, often used as a pick-up line or when greeting friends. The series also impacted the English language, according to a study by a linguistics professor at the University of Toronto. The professor found that the characters used the word “so” to modify adjectives more often than other intensifiers, such as “very” and “really”. Although the preference had already made its way into the American vernacular, usage on the series may have accelerated the change. Following the September 11 attacks, ratings increased 17% over the previous season as viewers tuned in for comfort.

 

F.R.I.E.N.D.S is parodied in the twelfth season Murder, She Wrote episode “Murder Among Friends”. In the episode, amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) investigates the murder of a cast member in Buds, a fictional television series about the daily lives of a group of city friends. The episode was devised after CBS moved Murder, She Wrote from its regular Sunday night timeslot to a Thursday night timeslot directly opposite F.R.I.E.N.D.S on NBC; Angela Lansbury was quoted by Bruce Lansbury, her brother and Murder, She Wrote’s supervising producer, as having “a bit of an attitude” about the move to Thursday, but he saw the plot as “a friendly setup, no mean-spiritedness”. Jerry Ludwig, the writer of the episode, researched the “flavor” of Buds by watching episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

 

The Central Perk coffee house, one of the principal settings of the series, has inspired various imitations worldwide. In 2006, Iranian businessman Mojtaba Asadian started a Central Perk franchise, registering the name in 32 countries. The decor of the coffee houses is inspired by F.R.I.E.N.D.S, featuring replica couches, counters, neon signage and bricks. The coffee houses also contain paintings of the various characters from the series, and televisions playing F.R.I.E.N.D.S ‘ episodes. James Michael Tyler, who plays the Central Perk manager in the series, Gunther, attended the grand opening of the Dubai cafe, where he worked as a waiter. Central Perk was rebuilt as part of a museum exhibit at Warner Bros. Studios, and was shown on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October 2008. Jennifer Aniston revisited the set for the first time since the series finale in 2004. From September 24 to October 7, 2009, a Central Perk replica was based at Broadwick Street, Soho, London. The coffee house sold real coffee to customers and featured a display of F.R.I.E.N.D.S memorabillia and props, such as the Geller Cup from the season three episode “The One with the Football”. In 2009, a dance remix of the song “Smelly Cat” became a popular internet meme.

Source: wikipedia.org 

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