I love ‘Friends’
Fourteen years after ending its 10-season run, Friends (19942004) grabbed headlines again in China as sohu.com suddenly pulled the classic American sitcom because the copyright has expired.
The hashtag #Friendsoffline has generated over 1.7 million reads on Weibo, with many fans calling for Sohu to renew its Friends’ rights.
I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic.
I first watched Friends on CCTV 10’s Outlook English. Around the mid-2000s, the hit educational program occasionally featured segments of Friends and explained the English phrases used in them. A clip from the eighth episode of the 10th season, “The One with the Late Thanksgiving,” made an impression on me. The scene where Ross, Joey, Rachel and Phoebe peek their heads in through the chain on the door and begged Monica and Chandler to let them in was pretty hilarious.
My love affair with Friends officially started in the summer of 2006 when I binge-watched all 236 episodes. I believe that was how I developed laugh lines around my mouth.
Everyone has a favorite cast member, and my favorite cast member has always been Chandler. His character arc – a timid, sarcastic IT guy growing into a gentle, committed husband and father without losing his sense of humor – was endearing.
I didn’t like Ross for being a jealous boyfriend, and I didn’t like Monica for being a control freak, but as I watched Friends reruns over the years, I changed my mind. Now I’d love to have someone like Monica as my housekeeper!
Friends opened my eyes to fan culture. I remember gasping at fan art like a scale model of Monica’s apartment and deliberating over quiz questions like “Did all the ‘friends’ kiss each other?”
The show’s huge Chinese following blended fandom with education. I downloaded several viewers’ notes about the script.
The notetakers carefully studied the script and compiled lists of new words and pop culture references for English learners. I’m forever indebted to their passion and generosity.
Although some scenes from Friends seem quite inappropriate now, Friends remains to be a fascinating catalog of American pop culture for English learners in China.