The horrifying fact that Friends is old enough for Nick @ Night does have the upside of inspiring a Friends renaissance in my apartment, compelling us to eagerly tune in every night at 10pm. Good for my laugh lines, bad for my sleep habits.
And man, does that show stand the test of time.
Earlier this week, the New York Times published an interesting article on the history of cross-gender friendships. Back in the day, such friendships were scandalous and only undertaken by those not concerned with propriety and reputation. Now that I think about it, even my parents, born in the fifties, don’t seem to have many substantial cross-gender friendships. If they do, they are usually part of “couple friends” or were developed later in life. Mom, Dad, am I wrong?
But people in my generation, at least in my circle, seem to derive a lot of value from these platonic relationships. I can’t imagine my college experience (or post-college) without male friends, both straight and gay.
Though much of the Friends fandom focuses on the Ross/Rachel and Monica/Chandler romances, the core of the show is a group of mixed-gender friends who sit around and talk all day. They talk about work, families, kara-tay, and Phoebe’s adolescence on the street, but mostly, like any mixed group, they talk about relationships.
When I think about my favorite sitcoms in the last few years, they all boil down to mixed groups sitting and talking. How I Met Your Mother is a tad schmaltzy, Happy Endings leans too heavily on the spaz-comedy, Cougar Town might as well be called Stand Around and Drink Wine, and New Girl adds the co-habitation slapstick, but they all fit the same profile. Even Modern Family and Up All Night, family-oriented as they are, operate on the premise that adult men and women can hang out and chat and have fun.
On the flip side, shows I dislike (2 Broke Girls, Whitney, Two and a Half Men) are still pretending that there’s a gender battle raging, with winners and losers and eye-rolling “oh you know how women/men are” jokes.
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