Watching 'Friends' on Netflix Is a Horrible Idea

by Lia Beck

"Hey, ya know what you need more of in your life? Friends!" ...said no one ever. Normally I'd hate to use that ubiquitous Twitter joke, but I'm sorry, it just really applies to the situation at hand. Friends is heading to Netflix on Jan. 1 and if you're thinking, "But that show is on television LITERALLY all the time," then you and I have a lot in common. I mean, really? Does anyone want to binge-watch Friends? And if they do, what the hell is wrong with them?!

Friends is not a show that should be binge-watched. It's hard enough, today, to imagine people watching it the way it originally aired: one episode at a time on a weekly basis. It's just so ingrained in me as this thing that is constantly available, for you to catch a half an episode of here and there, and where the order doesn't matter because you already know what's going to go down anyway.

I totally understand watching it week-by-week at the time, though. I did it myself towards the end of the series and vividly remember talking to my own friends about the finale in my high school hallway, but things were different during Friends' run from 1994 to 2004. There was a major lack of options. You couldn't DVR a show or watch something online later. You didn't have 200 channels to choose from. You couldn't say, "Eff that. I'm watching The Walking Dead on my iPad instead." The pickins were slim.

Still, even with the choices being narrowed down, I feel like Friends isn't (and this may be a controversial statement) that great of a show if you try to look at it in a vacuum. When watching reruns, how many times do you reluctantly laugh at the dumb jokes or get annoyed at the fact that they rarely leave the apartment building (just go to a party goddammit!) or hate the fact that they never meet any new people? For me, the only answer to that question is "every single time I watch the show."

But do I still watch it? Yes, because it's fun and silly and perfect for when nothing else is on. Chandler's jokes may be stale, but that's just the way Chandler is, and after being acquainted with Chandler for most of my life, I accept him the way he is. It's like the friends of Friends became all of our friends. Just for me, they're friends whose texts I tend to avoid unless I'm really bored. I wouldn't go out of my way to watch the show, but when I'm scrolling through the channels late at night, I'm happy to tune in.

There's something nice about clicking on Friends and going, "Ah! It's Ross and Emily's wedding! Look at them actually leaving their homes!" Watching the show on Netflix won't have the same effect. Searching for the football game episode online won't give you the same feeling as just happening upon it on TV. And imagine watching the episodes in order without, a) waiting a week in between, or b) getting pissed that syndication channels like to skip random episodes — that would be (well, will be) crazy, and not in a good way. I just don't think this show works without some sort of struggle, even if that struggle is as small as laying on your couch in sweats and giving in because nothing else is on.

Perhaps, this is what unconditional love is — enjoying a show throughout all of its flaws and always coming back to it (seemingly out of your own control at times) even if you don't really want to. Watch Friends on Netflix and you're throwing all of that away! Your choice, suckas.

Images: NBC