Am I the Only One Who Thinks the TV Show “Friends” Is Very Overrated?

Everyone has different tastes, but the show Friends has many ardent fans years after it finished. When it was new, I found it about as subtle as a bag of hammers. It had some attractive characters and a few clever moments. But the acting struck me as over the top hammy, and many of the situations were a little too ridiculous for my tastes. Since I have changed my opinion of some shows, I watched an episode yesterday - but still feel the same.

Interestingly, Malcolm Gladwell writes that the acting in the show is so expressive one could easily follow the complex plots without sound. He shows all the actors use much stronger facial movements than most people in real life. So it is crystal clear when the characters are feeling happy, annoyed, disgusted, angry, fearful, etc. since most of the muscles coding these emotions are at a 5/5 level. To me it just seems unnatural.

Anyone else feel the same way? Anyone love the show - and cares to respond to my gentle criticism?

Of course you’re not the only one. It was a stupid show and plenty of us think it is very overrated.

But you know what, no matter how good a show is, there will be people who think it is overrated.

It makes my teeth hurt.

I remember watching it and looking forward to it each week. I watched a couple episodes in syndication and couldn’t remember what I liked about it except the theme song.

I enjoyed the show during its original run, though it was, as the OP notes, often full of hammy acting. Even then, I found both Ross and (to a lesser degree) Monica to be particularly cringey. Also, I had a big crush on Lisa Kudrow, and that was at least part of why I watched.

I’ve rarely watched it since it ended, though I know that it’s been ubiquitous in syndication and on cable since then. I’ve seen a couple of episodes recently, and either it didn’t age well, or my tastes have changed since I was in my 20s. :slight_smile:

That’s normal (and necessary) for stage actors. It might have been reinforced by the live audience.

I don’t think the show was ever well regarded by critics and there plenty of viewers who didn’t like it, either.

The actors were talented (especially Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, and David Schwimmer*), but the show didn’t require great acting. It was comfort TV, but not outstanding comfort TV.

*He was excellent in his guest shot in Hill Street Blues

Has anyone ever held ‘Friends’ up as an example of fine artistic TV? For me, it’s an enjoyable show that I could watch socially with a group, a dinner and drinks night at someone’s apartment. A lot of the 90s shows were like that, a nice change from the heavy message based oh so serious sitcoms of the 70s and 80s

You misspelled NYPD Blue. :wink:

My wife liked the show, it had moments.

I tried watching a couple of episodes. I switched both off after five minutes of lame jokes and canned laughter. The only time I might have stuck with it for longer was when Paget Brewster was a guest star. My God, how I love that woman! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

So you are Friends with a Dentist?

How did they always manage to snag that sofa in the coffee shop?

It is not overrated.

Because it is not rated particularly highly to begin with. It was just popular, and many of the reasons it was popular are why it’s not rated highly, and you mentioned them.

Was never a fan. That said Bing did make me laugh with his one liners and “BE” shtick.

But him alone wasn’t enough to make me a big fan of the show.

Due to a combination of living outside the US from 1986 to 2018, combined with having been raised on the mantra that “TV rots your brain,” I’ve only been vaguely aware of much American television for decades - but the good stuff seeps through somehow. I managed to watch the original “Twin Peaks”; I know that “West Wing” and “Hill Street Blues” were critically acclaimed; I’m pretty sure “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is worthwhile if I get a chance to see it; and “Breaking Bad” definitely got my attention.

But “Friends”? Nope. I’ve seen a few episodes because I was back in the US, or a friend had a DVD, or something. It never struck me as worth pursuing.

I think this is spot on. It was hugely popular, but despite that, the series earned only six Emmy awards (out of 62 nominations):

  • It got one award for Best Comedy Series
  • Aniston and Kudrow each got one acting award (Aniston for lead actress, Kudrow for supporting actress)
  • Bruce Willis and Christina Applegate each got an award for guest actor/actress
  • Michael Lembeck got a directing award

Apparently it was more or less saved for them.

First of all, bear in mind how far back we’re going.
I’m 42 years old, and I was 15 when Friends first aired. To my peer group at the time it was exciting to be the “seventh friend” once a week, and share in their adventures.
Sure, the humor was somewhat basic, but not in a way that stood out at the time. Some people here are comparing it to dramas, or shows that came later. But if you compare it to, say, Frasier, the humor seems similar to me, just pitched at a different age group.

A second thing to bear in mind is just how of its time it was. It launched many popular phrases and memes into the popular consciousness, which appeared fresh and funny at the time (to a young audience at least) but are guaranteed to fall flat now.
In my native UK and other countries, Friends is partially credited with the explosion of coffee chains that happened at that time. So, having the friends regularly chat over coffee, seems a very uninspired choice to us now, but at the time was a whole new lifestyle.

However, I would agree that it was dead before the end of its run. By the end of the series, everyone knew the joke setups by heart and audiences had largely moved on (yes the last episodes have high ratings but that’s just for closure or whatever. I think like most people, I wasn’t excited by what was happening to the characters in the end, but wanted to at least know).
So, it hasn’t stood up well over time. But sure I found the earlier series very funny at the time.

It never really appealed to me. I found the characters unrelatable and not particularly interesting (though I liked Phoebe.) I feel like it was a predecessor to How I Met Your Mother which I did watch and “enjoy” to some extent, until you really think about it and realize how terrible the characters are as people. I didn’t watch enough Friends enough to conclude the characters were equally as insufferable, but I can’t help but associate the two shows. They are both about upper middle class people and their manufacturered drama.