Yes, I wrote 1000 words about the “Friends” marathons on Nick at Nite

So Nick at Nite runs marathons of “Friends” every weekday night starting at 8 p.m. They’re great. I love Friends. They make the nights fly by. But what’s crazy to me, is these marathons are seemingly endless. I have yet to make it to the end. I made it until 2:30 last Friday – that’s 13 episodes of Friends – before I fell asleep, and they were still going. So there is at least 14 episodes a night. That’s roughly half a season.

When I was watching Thursday night, I caught the tail end of season 6 (the finale features Chandler’s proposal to Monica which is hands down the best TV/Movie proposal ever and I will 100% be stealing it for my eventual proposal) and the very beginning of season 7. When I started watching Friday at 8 p.m., they had made it through season 7 and I think most of 8, if not all of it and into 9, because Rachel had already had Ross’s lovechild. I’m fairly confident they go in order without skipping episodes (I haven’t noticed any skipped so far, at least) so that’s a lot of fucking ground to cover. And they don’t run during the morning/afternoons, because I checked, it is just stupid cartoons.

Fuck you, it’s beautiful

I’m determined to stay up all the way through this week. This coming Thursday, I will be watching Friends from 8 p.m. until, apparently, infinity. (I’d do it earlier in the week because I’m really curious just to see how late these marathons go, but I’ve got work and have to wake up early so fuck you I can’t just stay up till infinity every goddamn night on a whim like that.) By Thursday, they’ll probably be all the way back to season 8 (which is a shame because post-season 7, outside of Pheobe’s marriage to Paul Rudd, are definitely the worst seasons). HOLY SHIT. Nick at Nite probably covers the entire series each week. That’s insane. I’m going to be a Friends savant by the end of my stay in Manhattan.

Because, of course I’m going to watch Friends every weeknight whether I want to or not. How can I not? It takes place in Manhattan. The show creates an impossible standard of what I wish my life was like during this summer. Why can’t I have five awesome Friends whose apartments have no correlation whatsoever to their salaries, who have hilarious hijinks on a weekly basis, who have no problem carrying on the sort of incestuous friendships I can only assume every group of friends have in NYC. Plus if it means Tom Selleck shows up every once and a while, I’m totally game.

Friends, if we’re being honest, is a pretty pedestrian sitcom. The laugh track, if you start thinking about it, is incessant and irritating, the comedy too often deteriorates into physical shtick, and like I’ve said in a previous post, the characters eventually devolve into one-dimensional hollow “jokes.” If you can think of a sitcom cliché, you can find it in Friends.

With that said, I do believe it is the best sitcom in our post-Seinfeld age. It’s the closest thing to a universal TV show like Seinfeld was, it was as consistent as a TV shows can be over ten seasons, and while it may not be the most substantial, clever, or well-written show, it certainly is more entertaining and sharp than, say, Two and a Half Men.

Plus, Chandler Bing is a top-5 television character. And that’s the trouble with watching so many episodes of Friends, particularly in a row. After enough time spent with the Friends, I start to forget they aren’t real people. I mean, I know I’m watching a TV show. But considering TV now, with lines blurred between reality and scripted shows, I forget that Matthew Perry isn’t actually Chandler Bing, he’s not the same person off-screen or off-set, Chandler and Monica don’t actually go home together after filming the episode. And that makes me sad. So much time I spend with these people/characters, and while I’m not going to really compare this to someone I know in real life dying (though I sort of want to), but the feeling I get after remembering/realizing these people/characters aren’t real, it feels the same as when I went away to college and all my friends (not Friends) went to college, and I knew it’d be a while before I saw them again. Not that they’re not people anymore, but I miss them in a way that’s along the lines of “I’ve grown used to these people being in my life and now that they aren’t, it’s going to be unpleasant while I get used to that.” The same goes for my Friends (not friends) after I remember the show isn’t still on, the characters aren’t continuing to live their lives.

But I’ve got them every Monday-Friday for at least six hours a night. As much as I’m sure I’ll get sick of seeing Joey in every single piece of clothing Chandler wears, Ross insisting he and Rachel we’re on a break, and even the chick and the duck, it’s comforting to know they’re there, consistently. So even if I’m probably closer to Gunther than I am any one of the six Friends, and even if my life in Manhattan is not even remotely close to their impossible-to-attain lives, Friends is, above all else, familiar. And in city of millions of people where I know a total of two, that’s all I can ask.

And with that, I realize every one of my blog posts seem to, in the end, boil down to my issues with change/loss of routine/familiarity. I swear I’m not doing this intentionally.

-Ben Cosman