Thanks to the universe’s stupid insistence on balance, two events that are absolutely opposite in brilliance have recently happened to me; I’ve got Sky TV, and I got the plague. The former is obviously brilliant. The latter? Not so much.
But, even though they’re the equal and opposite reactions of my fortunes, the two have sat together very well. Because it turns out that having the plague is considerably more fun when you have quite a lot of TV channels at your disposal than it is when you’ve got none at all.
And what was the greatest televisual discovery I made during my period of plague-induced house arrest?
Yes, I realise this theoretically makes me about 18 years behind everyone else. But I hadn’t actually just discovered Friends; I, like everyone else my age watched every episode as it aired and was completely unhealthily obsessed with it. I quoted it relentlessly. I sat there in my common room at uni and I watched the final episode with about 30 other girls and I did a little cry. I used it as a marker of time for years; thanks to the incessant repeats on E4 5 o’clock wasn’t 5 o’clock, it was Friends O’Clock.
Then I hit early-to-mid-twenties and realised I was about the same age that the Friends themselves were in the early episodes and started obsessively comparing my life to it and realising I didn’t even have a pl and COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT and stopped watching it.
And once I’d got over the worst of the terror, we didn’t have a chance to reconcile. Because then the impossible happened; the E4 repeats stopped and I couldn’t watch it anymore even if I wanted to.
So when I was flicking through the channel guide and saw all the Friends on Comedy Central, I decided to give it another shot. Maybe this time it wouldn’t make me hyperventilate and cry. Maybe it wouldn’t be like when I was 22 and sitting in my parents’ living room during my university holidays and panicking that I’d never be able to move out and would end up living at home unemployed with no real life of my own forever and ever amen. Maybe now that I wasn’t staring at imminently matching up with the start of the show and was actually living the equivalent of the third or fourth series, I’d be alright.
And it turned out that actually, I was more than alright. I was JOYOUS and stupidly entertained and laughing away like a loon. Partly because I was feverish and hadn’t seen the show for a really long time and so had forgotten all the jokes, but also because I felt like I finally grasped something that my teenage self had missed.
Which is the ridiculously, glaringly obvious point that it’s actually all about the fact that they’re as hopeless and grasping as the rest of us. And I’d somehow missed it, because I was so busily being terrified by their apartments and jobs and relationships and lives that all I could think was “OHMYGOD I’M GOING TO LIVE AT HOME FOREVER AND NEVER GET LAID EVER AGAIN.”
And now I can watch Friends without having some kind of mad life-crisis as a result. In fact, I can probably watch it and feel a bit smug, because I’ve got a boyfriend and a house and I AM GOING TO GET A CAT GODDAMMIT, and that quite possibly puts me ahead of the Friends curve.
So yes, panic over. Because I realise now that not only do I have a pl, I quite possibly have a pla.