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Monday, December 3, 2018

Book Review: I'll Be There for You: The One about Friends by Kelsey Miller

I love Friends. I watched the first episode live when it debuted, and the characters were just a couple of years older than me, so I took it as a primer about how to live and work and love in my 20s. I followed these 6 characters religiously, even eventually moving to New York myself, and I have watched the reruns dozens and dozens of times.

As a pop culture nut, this book was a no-brainer for me. I guess I wish it had had more trivia and done more of a deep dive into episodes and more minor plotlines, but it does a very good job with what it does--look at Friends in the bigger picture--why is was such a big hit, what it spoke to at that time, why it has endured, if it deserves to have endured, and what is its legacy. It does get into the weed on some topics such as the casting (which is one reason I thought it would be a deeper dive into the show itself on a granular level) and I wasn't as interested in the various contract negotiations, although those did impact the plots as a couple of times they thought a season might be the end, and then it turned out not to be.

I know, there have been issues with how white the cast is, and how it's rather homophobic, and Ms. Miller addresses those thoroughly. It was a show of its time, and it's too bad it wasn't more ground-breaking and forward-thinking in those areas, but it is what it is.

And what it is now for me and millions of people, is comfort food. You don't have to pay attention. You know how it's going to end (in fact you might be able to quote it.) But it's so well-acted, well-written, and relatable, that it doesn't get boring or stale. I have suggested it to young 20-somethings today as a look at what's in store, from bad jobs to bad relationships to being broke to parental issues to difficult decisions. Those parts are universal. And you will always have your Friends by your side to see you through.

I bought this book at Newtown Bookshop, an independent bookstore.

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