FriendsAlice and I have watched a lot of Friends in our time. Its on E4 more than big brother, and we even have the boxset. There are few episodes I haven't seen more than twice. I'm not entirely sure why. Its by no means the greatest sitcom of all time, its writing can often be weak, too soap operaish, and frequently redefines its characters to squeeze out a joke. So what does save it?
I think theres a comfortable nature to this show that draws me in, and a familiarity in the performances. As the show went on all the actors settled into the characters, and the writers got used to creating for them. While the writers would quite happily warp characters if necessary, they were usually relatively faithful. It was usually fun to watch them.
Apart, of course, for one character. Ross Gellar becomes more hateful with each episode. His performance becomes stupid, the writing becomes idiotic, and frankly when he suggested he might leave all the Friends in season 4 you find yourself rooting for it. He is a hideous, inhuman creation, who is not particularly well played by David Schwimmer. Of course when you have to suffer plots where you have whitened your teeth and apparently are unable to admit it, then thats whats going to happen. Add to that that the writers felt the need to keep the whole Ross and Rachel thing going for an insane amount of time, chickening out of pairing Rachel and Joey, a pairing that made more sense than that hateful couple.
The absurdity of the Ross and Rachel relationship was that they were together for a shorter period than some of the extras who joined the show, and yet we were meant to care about them. The final episode proclaimed that they were together finally, but really gave no evidence that this one would last, as the reasons for their break ups in the past was always something impressively stupid. Along the way the writers had accidentally sweetly partnered Chandler and Monica, who became far more interesting than the supposed cental relationship of the show.