What sitcoms do you watch these days

A sitcom becomes a cultural asset : "Friends" without end

At the intersection of Bedford Street and Grove Street in Manhattan there is a six-story old building made of brown brick with arched windows and a fire escape. The house is a tourist destination, marked as “Friends Apartment” on Google Maps (4.4 out of 5 stars from a good 4000 reviews) and dozens of mostly young people are photographed in front of the building every hour. Then they write sentences like “We'll visit Monica and Rachel for a moment”, as if the series characters were real friends who really live there, and post the pictures on Instagram.

Not a single second of the style-defining sitcom "Friends", which originally ran on television from 1994 to 2004, was actually shot in New York. City impressions such as the brief panning of the apartment building come from the archive, the actors were never near it, but instead shot on a Warner Bros. studio stage in Burbank, California. Nevertheless, the “Friends Apartment” has developed into a place of pilgrimage.

The sitcom, in which six young New Yorkers master their everyday lives and are shown at weddings and births, at rendezvous and job interviews, in their favorite café and in their shared apartment, has become one of these contexts - "Harry Potter" would be a comparable phenomenon call - that make escapism possible for entire generations, whose fictional worlds represent a welcome refuge.

Essential social tendencies of the past few years - the rural exodus, the circle of friends as a substitute for families, the compulsion to optimize oneself on the job market - are negotiated in the series and may have been caused by it. "Friends" helped to create the ideal of a big city life - and this basic motif is seen today as though through a veil of nostalgia.

Big city life without a housing crisis

The series comes from a more optimistic time, the fat years after the Cold War. Their world is similar to the present one and yet it is fundamentally different: big city life without a housing crisis, New York without 9/11, the frustrating job an opportunity to reinvent itself and the circle of friends unchangeable. The characters do not have smartphones and yet are in constant contact. For the 25th anniversary of the first season, several Berlin cinemas have shown "Friends" episodes on the big screen in the past few weeks. The audience at a performance in a multiplex on Potsdamer Platz consisted mostly of viewers who are not much older than the series itself. Lines were included, the canned laughter from the episodes echoed louder than the laughter in the hall, because the jokes were well known.

Katharin, 27, who watched the entire series - 236 episodes in ten seasons - many times from start to finish and was able to take part in dialogues, explained her fascination with watching the characters grow up, that the development of the characters is the consolidation of one's own Person reflects. "Friends" is also ideal for days spent sick in bed, added Niklas, 29. "Friends" is comfort viewing. Katharin used to watch TV, today they watch Netflix together. Georgia and Savannah, both 14, from Pennsylvania are also watching there. When Netflix wanted to take the series out of offer a year ago, the two started a petition with tens of thousands of signatures and the argument that the series had "helped so many people through life" and that Netflix could not simply take it off the program. In difficult times you help "Friends", writes Georgia. The two teenagers and numerous other protesters prevailed: Netflix finally paid around $ 100 million for the license rights for another year. An amount of this dimension otherwise corresponds to the budget of a particularly expensive in-house production, for example a season of “The Crown”.

"Friends" drives Netflix's success

Ted Sarandos, the program director of Netflix, was quoted by "Variety", the success of the series, especially with a young audience, can be attributed to its availability on its streaming platform. Unfortunately, he was not asked how he explains that “Friends” is streamed there more often than any of the Netflix originals. The counter-question is obvious: Isn't the constant availability of “Friends” the reason for the popularity of Netflix?

It took Jennifer Aniston just five hours recently to reach a million followers on Instagram. A world record, which she set with a grainy picture, taken by a dim chimney light. It shows the “Friends” ensemble today, six people around fifty, at a private dinner. The picture has 15 million likes.

A short video by the Monica actress Courteney Cox was similarly successful. She crosses the Bedford / Grove intersection, walks towards the house in which the “Friends Apartment” is located, in which she has not shot in all these years, looks again at the camera and shouts: “Good night, I'm going home now! "

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