“I’ll be there for you” are five words that almost everybody has heard of–I hope. These simple words are from the iconic theme song from Friends, the show that ran from 1994 to 2004. I’m hoping everyone is familiar with the show because it is one of the most beloved shows of all time. Of course, I may be a little biased, but I mean, c’mon…there were 52.5 million people watching the Friends finale as it aired on May 6, 2004. It even played live in Times Square, so I’m really hoping anyone who is reading this has at least heard of the show. It sounds silly, believe me, I know, but this show completely changed my life. As exaggerated as that sounds, it’s nothing but true. I feel like I’ve known this show since I was born, because once again…who doesn’t know this iconic show. The first time I truly remember becoming totally obsessed with this show was in 6th grade. I remember laying in bed on my family’s spring break vacation in Park City, Utah and actually paying attention to the show for the first time. Every Friends fan I’ve talked to remembers the first episode of Friends they ever watched. For me, it was “The One Hundredth,” when (Spoiler Alert!) Phoebe gives birth to her brother’s triplets. I remember watching this episode that night and from then on out it was almost an instant obsession. A few weeks later, I was sick at home from school and saw an Aveeno ad on TV. I noticed Jennifer Aniston, who is the ambassador for the brand. My mom was making me waffles in the kitchen and I simply said, “Hey mom, isn’t that the girl from Friends?” That was my first introduction to Jennifer Aniston, who has now become the greatest role model in my life. So, within the first month of watching the show and noticing Jen Aniston, it’s been a nonstop obsession since 2013. I’ve always been a huge fangirl, and instead of using the word obsessed, I think of it as dedicated, so people don’t think I’m crazy… But let’s be real, it’s totally an obsession.
Shortly after discovering the show in March of 2013, I bought every single season on DVD. This was long before Netflix decided to put the show on their platform (also before they decided to very rudely take it off…but that’s beside the point). Each DVD was $20 at Barnes and Noble, and with 10 seasons, yes, I spent $200 on the Friends series. I spent that summer in Minnesota with my cousins and lugged around 10 DVDs across the country just so I could finish the show before school started back up again. I ended up finishing it much faster than the normal human would binge a show, but hey…dedication, right? This was at a time when our generation really had no idea what Friends was. The generation before us loved it because they were actually alive to watch it, but for the other middle schoolers I was talking about the show with, they were completely confused as to why I loved an old show so much. I kept talking about Friends with every person I encountered, and the adults were confused too. Slowly but surely, my middle-school-aged friends began to find those sketchy websites to stream the show on. This is why to this day, I still take full credit for making our generation obsessed with Friends.
In January of 2014, I decided to start a fan page on Twitter and Instagram for the show, but more specifically Jennifer Aniston. At this point, she had become my biggest idol, inspiration and every other word you could possibly use to describe someone you look up to. This was once again, back when not many teenagers were obsessed with a show from the ‘90s and a middle-aged actress. Our fandom started out pretty small, and over the years it’s grown to thousands of fan pages. I feel really lucky to say I was an OG Faniston. Yup, that’s our fandom name… the Fanistons. I will forever believe this is the best fandom name to ever exist. I definitely didn’t come up with it, but whoever did, deserves an award. The word “Faniston” has kind of become a secret little word with us and Jen, which is really special. Whenever one of us meets her, we let her know we’re a Faniston and it’s a special little moment. Don’t even try to use this word if you aren’t actually a Faniston….I’ll cry. So, the fandom started off with less than 50 people, and I’m now one of the last people who hasn’t met Jen yet. But I’m hoping 2020 is my year! This group of girls that started out as fellow fans has become my closest group of friends. It’s still mind-boggling to me that I have friends all over the world. One happened to live 25 minutes away from me, and we now hang out often. Some are in the U.S., a lot are in Europe, and there’s even a few in Australia. It’s really cool to me that I can travel almost anywhere and have a couch to crash on or someone to show me around their city. Six years later, this group of girls is still my go-to gals.
Not only did this show give me a group of best friends, but it also showed me what I want to do with my life. Growing up, my family and I always went to the movies every weekend to watch the next greatest blockbuster, so movies and TV shows were always important to me. From watching Saturday Night Live every single Saturday or having the words to National Lampoon’s Family Vacation engraved into our heads, our family was almost always thinking about movies and television. Discovering and watching Friends really took this whole film industry obsession to a new level. I can say with 100% certainty that I would genuinely have no idea what I wanted to do with my life if it weren’t for this show. I’m now in school studying public relations and film studies to have a career in the film industry one day, hopefully doing celebrity PR or the publicity for a tv show or movie franchise.
It sounds silly, believe me, I know and I’ve been told many times before. This show gave me one of my biggest support systems, who turned into a group of girls that I really consider my best friends. It also truly showed me how much I love and appreciate this industry and how badly I want to work in it. And of course, it gave me six of my favorite people in the world: characters who turned into people that I really look up to and share so many jokes with. So, the next time you think about binging a tv show, put a lot of thought into it…it could change your life.