Five Ways Something Ruined My Life

Five Ways ‘Friends' Ruined My Life

I remember when I was about 9 years old, walking around Caroga Lake (Upstate New York, what up!) with my aunt and uncle singing (probably to myself) the opening theme song to Friends and feeling very embarrassed about knowing all the lyrics simply because it used the phrase “love life.” (Similarly, I didn’t want to ask for the TLC album Crazy Sexy Cool out of embarrassment).

Embarrassment over the term “love life” aside, I LOVED Friends. Not life companions, but the hit NBC sitcom from the mid-’90s. In 7th grade, there was a “couple” that everyone referred to as Ross and Rachel and I tried more times than I’d care to admit to copy Rachel’s clothing. I was right there every week watching the show unfold until sophomore year of college, where I watched the series finale and bawled like a baby. (Monica dress shopping quote, anyone?)

This is a show I can get into discussions of the intricate details of, quote incessantly and use to relate to almost any life situation.

Because of Friends I. . .

1. Was Completely Unprepared For Living In NYC

I know, I know, many shows contributed to this problem. But I blame the root of the problem on Friends.

It’s not even just the apartment envy that I can’t get past. (Which, come on, I’m 27 and I’m only now coming to terms with the fact that I will never live anywhere nicer than my sophomore-year dorm at NYU.)

It’s the ease they have commuting to their jobs on the odd days they decide to go to them (have any of them ever even BEEN on a subway??), it’s the non-sweaty entrance to the coffee shop even in the summer months (it gets HUMID here, people!), it’s the way all of their friends live across the hall (I had this for a couple years, sort of, with a friend up the street but it’s not the same) and it’s definitely, absolutely, the fact that three different characters owned a car at one point (check my math: Phoebe has the taxi, Ross has his turning-30-crisis car & Monica gets her dad’s old Porsche).

This is just not how people live in New York and I just am hurt that they would lie to me like this.

(Also, they refer to “Disneyland” and I just find that horrifying when they’re supposed to be in New York. We only know DisneyWORLD in the east, guys.)

2. Think I Am Rachel Green

For the record, I’m Team Jennifer and J. Aniston will always be MY sweetheart.

Wait, that sounded wrong. She’ll always be America’s Sweetheart…to me. Yes.

Obviously, I am definitely a Monica who had delusions that she was a Rachel. Sigh. I was smart enough not to attempt the Rachel hair cut, but I definitely experimented with some of her clothing options. She wore her overalls unbuttoned with a cute sweatshirt and Erin showed up to 6th grade math with unbuttoned (and partially falling down) overalls with an over-sized “University of Miami” sweatshirt. Boom, Rachel’d.

But I think the biggest issue (and clearly one Jennifer Aniston herself faces) is that I cannot and will not separate her from her character. So I loved Rachel and therefore with love J. Aniston. Forever.

When did this turn into a creepy love letter where I send her my eyelashes?

3. Think the Group of Friends You Have At 22 Will Be Your BFFs For the Rest of Your Life

Here’s the deal. I’m totally, completely jealous of the idea of a close group of friends who only hang out with each other and are super co-dependant. I just am, okay? I feel like people have similar situations to this in college maybe but once your friends start being in long-term relationships and get real jobs it’s harder and harder to keep that dynamic going.

Why can’t all my best friends just date each other then? That’d be so much simpler! We could have two apartments across the hall from each other where four of us just swap living in each apartment on whims and everything would be great. I mean, seriously, toward the end of the series someone is moving almost every week!

I just want TV to stop telling me that I can live in a world where my bffs date each other and we never need to have any other friends or co-workers and we just get into wacky adventures all the time. Because it’s never gonna happen and that makes me sad.

4. Think Breaking Up Should Be Super Easy and Stress-free

This is a big one. Yes, yes, it’s a sitcom, I get it, okay? But the fact of the matter is, they chose to do a really big break-up and make me cry. So they should at least have the decency to not lie to me.

Does ‘With or Without You’ always make me cry? Yes. Does that scene when Ross and Rachel are crying and she says he’s a completely different person to her now also make me cry every single time? YES.

Does real life continue on with an episode about going skiing with the friends you both share and making snide comments about your ex? No.

Them “being on a break” was a HUGE deal in the Friends universe, obviously, but it also sort of goes away quickly.

They still hang out with the same people (as if it’s their job or something to see only those 6 people) and they still hang out in the same room all the time. And the most that ever happens after the initial breakup is some jokes at each other’s expense. It works out for them.

If you’re Monica your BEST FRIEND and your brother just had an awful breakup and you’re stuck in the middle and somehow it’s okay with everyone.

Poor teen Erin had to turn to Dawson’s Creek to learn about REAL breakups because Friends was of no use.

5. Know Being An Adult Is Not Even Remotely In a Million Years That Easy

Getting a job, making friends, getting a boyfriend, breaking up, dealing with your parents, all of these things are not easy. Clearly the point is, well, it’s easier with great FRIENDS!

And it is.

However, it’s still not as easy as deciding to work “in fashion” and then just showing up for jobs. It’s just not. It’s also not as simple as being an actor but not working ever and not having a part time job (until much later in the series). The overall idea of being able to decide what you want to do and just do it is probably the most egregious way Friends ruined my life.

And therefore, sort of made it better.

I sort of feel like, “okay, if these yahoos can get through life so can I!” Is this a healthy way to look at life? Probably not. But no one’s perfect.

I’m forever jealous of their perfectly balanced group of friends and proximity to said friends. I want people to just barge into my apartment too!

I think I said it best on Twitter recently:


I’ll be there for you!

(Post adapted from this on my Tumblr)

(main photo from here – with me added in)

  • Zelina Garza

    you said it right too.

  • Meredith Lee

    yea!!!! Loving this….although, um…I’m not ashamed to admit that there were at least two references to the Friends being on the subway. Chandler when he said some guy on the subway licked his neck and Ross when he someone sitting on his hand on the subway was the most action he has gotten in a long time AND Phoebe sang a song about pigeons crapping on her heart in the subway and stalked Ursula’s stalker in the subway. Yeah, I’m hugely obsessed as well…and when you see ads for Wanderlust, are you also thinking why is Mike making out with Rachel in a movie? I also did get the Rachel ‘Do and it is not good with super curly hair. It lasted for a day. The next day it rained and I never got it to look like that again. I too can have long intricate discussion about this show where I can quote lines, I have books, DVDs….it was such a great show, yeah, it did ruin a lot of lives. I wanted to be Rachel, but I think I was more similar to Chandler in terms of personality…although, if you think about it, Friends is telling us that you don’t need A LOT of friends to be happy. You just need a few close ones….that will be there for you when the rain starts to fall. Awww….by the, I know all the words of both verses of “I Will Be There For You”…..alright, I think I should stop now. Oye…

    • Erin Long

      Very true about the subway mentions but I still didn’t buy that anyone writing that was familiar with riding the subway so I think it counts. And they didn’t do subway stories nearly as much as other shows set in NYC. :) If you’re crazy then I’m crazy so I accept the disclaimer.

  • Meredith Lee

    wow….I want a disclaimer to my post that I am not THAT crazy…

  • Christiana Dinkelmeyer

    ok I completely love this – you’re right and oddly enough we’ve shared the same thoughts on this recently.

  • Amalia Pantazi

    I am 100% with you. Well, make that 80% because I don’t live in New York so I wouldn’t know. I have wonderful friends and am thankful for them, but I’ve always craved that ‘FRIENDS’ familiarity. They just walk into each other’s apartments, they’re not afraid to fight , shout, mock and even insult each other because they always make up in no time. It’s like they are all married to each other, in a way, bound to do everything together and stick together no matter what. I don’t know if that’s possible to happen in real life. As for their perception of life, well.. They don’t take anything too seriously, from break-ups to being fired, being broke, or being incapable of having children. That’s because the series was a comedy. The exact same plot could have also been a great and intense TV drama. It’s just a matter of perspective, and that is the bottomline, I think. That’s what FRIENDS are to me, apart from a show that never, EVER fails to make me laugh: a motivation to be positive towards life.

    • Erin Long

      very nicely said. Now all I’m thinking about is a Friends drama tho….I want to make that.

  • Emily Hatfield

    I am a Friends addict as well, and I agree with you one hundred and infinity percent. And on the same note as the break ups, how was it that they were always ok with each others’ exes? I could not have ever been ok with Emily, Mona, Charlie or anybody else, regardless. Even if all of my feelings are gone, there’s still that “well he’s MY ex” mentality that, let’s be real, we all have.

    Also, I think Monica and Chandler are an understated relationship. People always go for the Ross and Rachel combo, but really, Monica and Chandler were more of a rock throughout the series than anyone. Just my two cents =)

    • Erin Long

      Agreed! Totally love Monica/Chandler but probably because I’m most like Monica and had a huge crush on Matthew Perry. Haha.

    • Asha Galindo

      I agree, Monica and Chandler too, if you look at the course of the series, were more OTP (if I can use that here) than Ross and Rachel, but I still cry when Rachel gets off the plane. I tear just thinking about it. I love Chandler and Monica’s dynamic though.

  • Natalie Borriello

    Once again you actually post my every thought! I used to call the hour in which they played friends at 17.00 on the uk channel E4 ‘happy time’ and made all my flatmates watch it, over and over again! And a genuine first date question is, “who do you agree with, ross or rachel on the ‘we were on a break’ debate?”

    • Erin Long

      Haha, that’s amazing! I just remember racing home every Thursday especially in college to make sure I could catch Friends live – and that was the 9th and 10th seasons!

  • Angelia Jones

    I actually went to the Friends set in 2004 at the WB lot in Burbank. It was crazy…you couldn’t walk on set like you could the others…there was a security guard standing by the foosball table the whole time. And man does it look small in real life. The set up in one long set from left to right Central Perk, Boys Apartment, Hall, Girls Apartment, and a spare room at the end that they change out depending on the episode. The back drop is a HUGE painting…maybe three stories high. Really crazy, glad I got to see it before it was over! And since I’ve known that’s where it was taped, every time I see an episode, I pick out the little details that make it obviously NOT New York.

    • Erin Long

      I’m so unbelievably jealous I don’t even know what to say.

  • Cassie Andrews

    I have said for the longest time that J. Aniston is America’s Sweetheart. I grew up wanting them all to be my best friends, except for Chandler of course, because Chandler Bing is my soul mate.

    • Meredith Lee

      no, he’s not….Chandler is my soul mate!!! I saw him once at Coffee Bean….there was a connection. I said he I liked his work, he smiled said thank you….and that was it. But….yeah, it was there. :p

  • Asha Galindo

    Even if they ruined my expectations of many things (I’ve often tried to talk myself into getting “the fear” but like Chandler, I’m “too afraid”) they are my biggest comfort. I cannot even count how many times I reference Friends in the course of a day because it is so often that I’m not sure it came from my brain or Kaufman Bright and Crane.
    In fact my most used phrase is “Did you ever see that episode of Friends when…?” followed by a recitation of every line in the episode and then my friend saying “Um, no I never saw that one.”
    Whatever, still waiting for my lobster, I don’t even care!

    • Erin Long

      I love “the fear” – so good! I can’t tell you how often I reference Friends to my husband and he stares at me blankly. Whoops.

  • Asha Galindo

    omg I didn’t even notice you were photoshopped into the picture! hahaha

  • Michelle Lyn Tafur

    My family has a camp in Caroga Lake too! Yaya! 😀

    • Erin Long

      East or West?? My grandparents are on East! Is this TMI for the internet? Oh well.

  • Charlotte Christensen

    ahhhh im from upstate new york! love caroga lake!! i go every summer <3

    • Erin Long

      LOVE! I grew up in Schenectady (don’t you judge!)

  • Amanda Alguire Vredenburgh

    Im from upstate too! I live in Albany now in this super quirky building and all I want is to open a coffee shop down the street and I envision it as being the new Central Perk!

  • Amanda Alguire Vredenburgh

    Oh! And my husband and I have the boxed set and sometimes.when we go to bed one of us says “pick a character. Now pick a number” and we start watching the series from that disc on in bed!

    • Erin Long

      All of that is amazing. I’d definitely come visit a Central Perk copy!

  • Brenda Citlalli Sosa

    Ahhhh! Friends is the best. I remember when the finale was coming up, I was around 11 or 12, and I made my mom buy me ever single “Special Edition” magazine, book, etc. I’d find. And a couple of years ago I went to NYC on a school trip, my junior year of high school and even though I’m completely aware that Friends was shot in California, I knew that the outside of the apartment building was actually a NYC building, so I asked our tour guide if he knew where it was and he sort of talked me down like I was 5 years old and was being told Santa Claus wasn’t real. Needless to say I never got to find the apartment building.

    Also, Matthew Perry is the best.

  • Ericka Jean

    I love, LOVE this show too! Well, I think almost everyone does :p Anyway, what I love about the series is that it shows how peaceful and simpler life can be if people just act mature enough when it comes to dealing with problems. In real life people tend to complicate things and meddle. In the series they show how friends should be. They’ll never leave you, never takes sides, never take it against you and they remind(and this is the keyword) BUT they don’t meddle. They are always there to listen and give advices but at the same time never forgets that in the end it’s still your call. I guess sometimes we should drop the drama(but sometimes it’s too hard to, cause it’s a lot more thrilling to us, or it’s a “don’t blame me, blame my hormones moment”) to make things simpler hence easier :) I’m so lucky to have the same relationship with my friends except I wish we too lived in the same apartment or across the hall of each others pad too!

  • Jessica Rodriguez

    AGREED! As much I as love adore cherish and am obsessed with Friends (obviously own all ten seasons), I am still waiting for my awesome job at Ralph Lauren based on a the little experience I had as a personal shopper at Bloomingdale’s (and despite the fact that I dated a client and screwed over the boss’s niece A LOT!).

  • Shelby McGregor

    Sorry, but I didn’t think anyone took shows like this’s fantasy world as reality, in any way. I mean… it’s TV, of course it’s not even close to reality.

    I love ‘Friends’, but I’ve never let the show’s vision of NYC shape my view of it. I know it’s not a thing like it is on the show.

  • Candice MacNeale Lazecky

    The same thing happens when I watch How I Met Your Mother now! Why can’t I live in an awesome apartment in New York and have all my friends at arms length and go for drinks or coffee in the bar or coffee shop attached to my building? Oh, right, because I live in Canada and we have spouses and babies and different cities now:(

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