Why Friends was such a huge television hit


Still going strong as a streaming box-set, it's the 90s comedy about six New York friends that defined a generation.

by Allen Therisa in TV Hit or Miss

I'll be there for you, etc
I'll be there for you, etc



1994 - 2004


Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, Friends epitomised television situation comedy in the 1990s.

Multi-award winning and a huge international audience draw, Friends also made stars of its leads, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.

It even created a cultural moment with Jennifer Aniston's changing hairstyle.


The comedic adventures of six friends in modern-day New York, as they search for romance and occasionally find it in the most unlikely of places. In the shiny, sunny world of Friends, three guys; frustrated dreamer Chandler (Perry), sexy, dopey Joey (LeBlanc) and sensitive Ross (Schwimmer) are the male counterpoints to Ross's sister, the uptight, energetic Monica (Cox), spoilt Rachel (Aniston, obviously) and, er, the "alternative" Phoebe (Kudrow).

Over 10 years Friends featured highly amusing adventures, love, heartbreak, failing careers, rising careers, babies and some very funny lines, delivered by performers at the very top of their game.

Oh yeah, and there was also a very catchy theme tune by The Rembrandts that became a very annoying hit single.


Originally starting out as cute, formulated to death and just too smug for its own good, powered by some fine comedy writing on the part of its creators (as well as engaging performances from its cast), Friends quickly became a major hit for NBC and much loved by its audience around the world.

Over the course of its run, the show also became more adventurous, character-driven, pointed and, beneath that slick, glossy exterior, surprisingly gritty.

It may have fuelled itself on a diet of relationship angst, social awkwardness, sex and familial stress, but Friends also teased to the surface the key emerging themes of the 1990s; economic insecurity, middle class decline and the perils of giddy consumerism. The leads lost their jobs, got new jobs they did not enjoy, ran out of money, fell in and out of love, and socially stumbled, using their friendship to protect them from the ravages of an increasingly uncertain world.

Whilst at all times looking well-groomed and beautiful.


Have you not been paying attention? Hit, Hit, Hit!

Not only did Friends go on to be a worldwide smash, but it also cemented the comedic reputations of its leads, if not their careers (apart from Jennifer Aniston, obviously).


For Rachel's haircut(s), the whole Rachel and Ross "Will they, won't they?" thing, for propping up the weekend schedules of Channel 4, Channel Five, Comedy Central and God knows how many other broadcast channels (as well as streaming services today) and for being very, very funny. 

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