Okay,confession time. Im not one of the millions who lost sleep over the daily doings of Ross and Rachel and Monica and Joey and Chandler and Phoebe. I could take them or leave them,and happily did,but I was clearly in the minority. The devotion of fans whose lives revolved around Friends,the long-playing TV serial that revolved around the lives of six young Americans,massive coffee cups and laugh-track-laden conversations,was as much the story.
Friends became the lodestone that the smart,hip,urban young cleaved to: just by hanging out with your friends of both sexes in the coffeeshops in your hood,sharing the little things that make up a day,you could be like those amazingly attractive fast-talking New Yorkers. Like The Sopranos and Sex And The City,Friends soon showed up around the word cult,but its quantum of worshippers outstripped that of the other two by far.
For me,this week has been an intense refresher course in the Friends lore,after I spent the bulk of it watching the final season (all six discs),and I now know more than I really need to about a bunch of all-American rituals (Serial Dating,Surviving The Big Bad Break Up,Getting The Perfect Dress For The Wedding,Lazyboys and The Art Of Watching TV Accompanied By A Pizza,and so on). And though Im still not about to fall in love with it,I can see why its target audience around the globe was completely bowled over: the fun that those six manage to have is contagious,and laugh-out-loud. Even the banality of the dreaded laugh tracks doesnt weigh them down.
The Specials in Disc Six includes a Friends Around The World section,where besotted fans are in the process of doing their own version. A German critic likens the sense of humour that Berliners possess to New Yorkersfast,up-front,spontaneous.
The believers,who live in hope of the Friends movie that Warner Bros has promised,manage amazing feats like remembering practically every single line spoken by every character in the 10 seasons (it began in 1994,ended in 2004,but lives on in endless re-runs). Oh My God.