Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt examine the conventions, techniques, and staying power of the beloved ’90s sitcom. Are we supposed to identify with, or idolize, or merely like these people? What makes the formula work, did it sustain itself over its 10-year run, was it successfully replicated (like by How I Met Your Mother or by Chuck Lorre?), and what parts haven’t aged well?
We reviewed a ton of articles to prep for this that you may want to read:
- “What the Critics Said About the 1994 Debut of Friends” by Margaret Lyons
- “‘Friends’ Is Turning 25. Here’s Why We Can’t Stop Watching It” by Wesley Morris
- “Why ‘Friends’ Is Still the World’s Favourite Sitcom, 25 Years On” by J.T. (at The Economist)
- “‘Friends’ Is Getting Old. Its Fans Have Never Been Younger” by Andrew Dalton
- “Friends Was a Great Show — That Just Happened to Ruin TV Comedy” by Emily Todd VanDerWerff
- “‘Friends’ Hasn’t Aged Well” by Scaachi Koul
- “‘Fat Monica’ Is the Ghost That Continues to Haunt Friends 25 Years Later” from Entertainment Weekly (no byline)
- “Friends at 25: Is the Sitcom Really as Problematic as People Say? Stylist Investigates” by Kayleigh Dray
- “Don’t Knock Friends. It’s Still Relevant, and Progressive, Too” by Sarah Gosling
- “Why ‘Friends’ Won’t Get Rebooted” by Saul Austerlitz
- “A Party Room and a Prison Cell Inside the Friends Writers’ Room” by Saul Austerlitz
- “Television Without Pity” by Christopher Nixon
- “‘Friends’ Creator Regrets One Of The Show’s Problematic Elements” by Nick Levine
This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.
Pretty Much Pop is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.