20 years ago today, the very first episode of Friends was broadcast. We’ll pause for a second to let you panic about how old you now are.
What’s impressive, though, is that Friends continues to win over new fans – over 36 million viewers have reportedly tuned in to see the show on Comedy Central since 2011, when it snapped up the rights for repeats, with the channel’s audience mostly consisting of 16 to 34 year olds.
The series’ timeless appeal lies in its well-defined characters and their recognisable life dilemmas – from jobs and romance to that Ugly Naked Guy living across the street) – not to mention its broad range of humour – from witty puns to physical slapstick – and ensemble cast chemistry. But there’s also the nostalgic knowledge that these characters will always occupy the same 20-something rite-of-passage that everyone experiencing; there will always be new people going through the same thing that the Friends did.
Which begs the question: would the sitcom, with its old-fashioned people-hanging-out-drinking-coffee premise, really work today?
We dream up 14 possible episode plots for Friends, if it took place in 2014:
The One Where Ross Gets a MySpace Page
Ross signs up to MySpace, only to discover that nobody else uses it any more. “It got more hits than Google in 2006!” he shouts at Chandler. “Everyone got more hits than Google in 2006!” Bing replies. “It was 2006!”
The One Where Joey Auditions for The Hobbit
Joey is excited to get an audition for the part of Gandalf in the next instalment of The Hobbit quadrilogy. He buys a fake beard and practices his English accent – only to turn up and find that he’s actually auditioning with Gandalf for the background part of an orc. He doesn’t get the role (but they are impressed enough to buy his fake beard from him).
The One Where Rachel Queues All Night for an iPhone
Rachel queues all night to get the new iPhone and gets caught in a fierce rivalry with a man equally determined to buy one. They end up fighting over the last one in the shop, only for it for it to fall on the floor and break.
The One Where Ross and Rachel Change Their Relationship Status to “It’s Complicated”
Ross and Rachel change their relationship status on Facebook to “It’s complicated”. Arguments ensue, until they realise that Joey’s duck walked in and stepped on the computer mouse by accident.
The One with the Cat Videos on YouTube
Chandler criticises Joey for spending all morning watching cat videos on YouTube, only for Joey to walk in on him doing the same that afternoon. One by one, the other Friends come in and get sucked into watching them all through the night and into the next day.
The One Where They Sign up to Airbnb
Strapped for cash, Chandler and Joey decide to sign up to Airbnb and rent out the bathroom as a spare bedroom. After a parade of weirdoes come round to view it, they decide they wouldn’t get enough money out of anyway. So they decide to rent out Joey’s bedroom instead, while Joey hunts for a more affordable room elsewhere. He comes across their old bathroom listing on Airbnb and applies to rent out that instead.
The One with the Free Wi-Fi
After their Internet connection is mysteriously cut off, the Friends find themselves without Netflix, Facebook or – in Ross’s case – MySpace for a whole weekend. They move their computers and tablets around the building to find any Free Wi-Fi they can, only to discover that the best place to get a signal is while sitting on the toilet.
The One Where Monica Reads 50 Shades of Grey
Monica laughs at all the people in the Central Perk coffee house reading 50 Shades of Grey, but ends up getting addicted to it too. She tries – unsuccessfully – to hide the book inside a range of other magazines and paperbacks.
The One Where Phoebe Un-friends Everyone
Monica and Rachel are shocked to discover that Phoebe has blocked them on Facebook – along with everyone else. They then discover that she wasn’t on Facebook at all and that her twin sister, Ursula, was pretending to be her all along.
The One Where Nobody Replies to Rachel’s FB Event
Rachel creates a Facebook event for her birthday party, but nobody RSVPs. She then realises she created the event for five years in the future – and starts worrying about her age instead.
The One Where Chandler Goes on an OkCupid Date
Chandler signs up to OkCupid. Despite advice from Ross telling him otherwise, he fills his dating profile with terrible puns. He ends up chatting to someone and meeting them for dinner. It turns out to be Ross.
The One Where Joey Spoils Game of Thrones
Joey, keen to appear well-read ahead of a TV audition, reads a Wikipedia summary of all of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones novels. To prove he’s actually read them, he starts spoiling key plot twists in public – and in front of the other Friends. Everyone hates him.
The One Where the Coffee Shop Gets Bought Out by Starbucks
In the run-up tt Christmas, the Central Perk coffee shop is bought out by Starbucks, a corporate takeover that a disgusted Phoebe boycotts completely. Until she realises that she really loves their gingerbread lattes. She starts donning a variety of disguises to go in and secretly buy the drink.
The One with the Ambiguous Emoji
Ross starts receiving text messages from one of his mature students, which he thinks is because she likes him – until she includes an emoji that he doesn’t understand. He tries to find a way to include the symbol in one of his lectures to trick the younger students into deciphering the symbol. Awkwardness ensues.
Friends Season 1 to 10 are available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
Where can I watch Friends online in the UK?
Friends Season 1 to 5
Friends Season 6 to 10
Seasons 1 to 10 (from £4.99)
Seasons 1 to 10 (from £4.99)