Ten reasons why we are still obsessed with 'Friends'

Holly Godfrey
The US show, ‘Friends’ has topped the list of the UK’s most watched streaming shows - Reuters

A full 14 years since it last aired, the US show ‘Friends’ has topped a list of the UK’s most watched streaming shows. The list was revealed in Ofcom's Media Nations report, based on a survey of 2,500 viewers, and ranked the most-watched programmes on subscription streaming services.

It seems that we just can't move on from the lives of the six New Yorkers, who shared coffee and relationships over ten hugely successful seasons. Here's why we're still friends with Friends...

1. Its funny, whatever age you are

The beauty of Friends is that while the characters were very definitely slightly-lost-20somethings at the start of the show (and slightly-less-lost-30somethings by the end), its humour is largely timeless. For example, the time Ross gets stuck in his leather trousers is pure slapstick: as funny to a 50-year old as a millennial. 

It's rare that a show can hold humour that easily flows between generations. Friends is friendly in that respect.

2. We can all relate to at least one character

Are you a geek (Ross), a funny-guy (Chandler), or everyone's favourite play-thing (Joey); or maybe you're organised to the point of neurosis (Monica), likeable but flighty (Rachel), or just a bit unhinged (Phoebe)?

The scriptwriters pulled off a real feat with Friends: their six characters exhibit a wide breadth of human behaviour, making the show relatable to the many rather than the few. 

Want evidence? Try playing the 'Which character from Friends are you?' game down the pub (if you haven't already).

'The cast were said to be friends not only on screen, but off screen too' Credit: Reuters

3. We envy their lives

The lives of these often hapless New Yorkers is filled with designer clothes, copious amounts of coffee and minimal amounts of real life work. Sounds idea, doesn't it? 

4. Jennifer Aniston

It's been 14 years since Jennifer Aniston made her mark as Rachel Green in Friends – and we're still just obsessed with her. She proved as much earlier this week when she complained during an interview with US magazine InStyle about the judgment that she's felt after announcing her split from husband Justin Theroux. “It’s pretty crazy," she said. "The misconceptions are ‘Jen can’t keep a man’ and ‘Jen refuses to have a baby because she’s selfish and committed to her career.’”

It’s 14 years since she made $1 million an episode for Friends, one of the most popular sitcoms of all time Credit: Getty Images North America

5. We all love a routine

The show has been on TV for over a decade, across three different channels, and now that it's on Netflix it feels like it's residency has become permanent. Familiarity is said to be a big part of the show's popularity – turning on any episode and knowing exactly what's going on is positively comforting.

6. The cameos

Question: What's more exciting than seeing a cameo of a world famous A-lister in your favourite show? Answer: Seeing them in the 90’s, when they were young.

Seek out cameos by a fresh faced Brad Pitt, a spritly George Clooney, and a youthful Julia Roberts – but try not to reflect on whether you've aged as well as they have.

Brad Pitt made a cameo appearance on the sitcom in "the one with the rumor" Credit: Television Stills

7. They gave us more than funny quotes

It seems that still now it's hard to get through a day without hearing a Friends quote – "we were on a break!"; "how you doin?"; "Grandma's chicken salad". 

In fact, Friends can be said to have shaped the way we talk today. Take as example the American use of the intensifier 'so' ("so awesome", "so lame"); like it or not, it's now part of British vernacular.

8. It’s wholesome 

Compared to current shows, Friends is pure of heart. There's no murder, violence (if we look past the sibling scuffles of Ross and Monica), and they swear by using non-vocal child symbols.  In a TV world of hard hitting, moral bending drama's (ahem, Handmaid's Tale), Friends is still the chilled out comedy we need.

In a TV world of hard hitting moral bending drama's, friends is still the chilled out comedy we need. Credit: Rex Features

9. The look

Baggy jeans, dark lipstick, hair scrunchies, a haircut that became so famous it got its own name ('The Rachel'_: Friends is like a museum to 90s style – which happens to be back on the scene this year.

Did it ever really go away?

10. They aren’t afraid of taboos

In among its timeless humour and often saccharine storylines, Friends gave airtime to serious issues: divorce, women's sexual freedom, infertility. That it did so with laughs took the awkwardness away from the issues, and instead made them something that could be talked about openly.

Tell us your most loved Friends moments in the comment section below, plus answer our poll to find out which Friend is our absolute favourite.