My obsession with sitcoms started at a very young age. I would sit in front of a box TV and switch between channels, watching episodes from “That ’70s Show” and “Sex and the City,” transitioning to “Friends” to end the night.
While I loved the other shows, “Friends” was my favorite because of the endless tropes and life lessons that at a young age, even I recognized. Here we have a group of friends, each fundamentally different in their own way, living in the city that never sleeps — Manhattan. The show portrays what it takes to be a young adult navigating a confusing world while also, ironically, leaving us with high expectations.
Throughout the seasons, Chandler, one member of the main group of pals, displays what it means to be in a position of unfulfillment when it comes to career choices. After quitting his job in IT, he stays unemployed while trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life before eventually going into advertising. On the other hand, Monica, an aspiring chef, and Joey, an aspiring actor, display what it takes to have integrity and strive for greatness despite the setbacks.
One of the toughest aspects of being a young adult is not only finding a career that can adequately support your lifestyle but also finding something you’re truly happy doing. Chandler teaches us to learn how to leave something behind when it is no longer serving us, even if it means working an internship in our 30s. His career move displays a sense of courage, especially when you consider that young adults are constantly badgered by older generations to settle into a profession before the age of 30.
The show especially teaches us about the subjects of love and friendship. Despite the stress and frustration these characters experience within their personal lives, they are still there for one another, some even falling in love with each other. The show ultimately represents how we sometimes need friends, our second family, to be there for us through the tough times — something we often take for granted. We get so caught up in our lives, chasing stability, that we forget to leave spare time for friends. “Friends” demonstrates the act of balancing social life and adult responsibilities.
But of course, when there’s a positive, there’s always a negative. Not only do “Friends” and sitcoms of a similar nature teach us about life, but they also set us up with high expectations. In what world can a group of young adults afford rent in New York as a struggling actor or a waitress in a coffee shop? Why does the representation of navigating friendship seem so easy? I must admit, watching these types of shows as a young girl made me think that life was going to be simple and straightforward, but as I grew older, I realized that life was much more complex than a 30-minute sitcom episode where everything gets neatly resolved at the end.
As a young adult, life can get pretty rough and depressing. Friends give us hope that it won’t always be that way. With Millennials and older Gen Zers getting dealt a substandard hard of grim societal pressures and expectations, it’s nice to have some representation from television that we can relate to, even if some of it may get our hopes up.
Like the “Friends” theme song says, “no one told you life was gonna be this way.” But the young-adult years are meant for confusion, exploring life through ups and downs, while also having a good time with those we love.
Daily Arts Writer Jessica Curney can be reached at email@example.com.