Binge-watching is a troublesome sport. Not only because it doesn’t actually provide any of the positive benefits that come from an actual sport, but also because it can very easily become overwhelming. Every seasoned binge-watcher knows that the only way to really cleanse yourself of the shocking twists and unexpected drama of a new series, is to go back and re-binge watch an old one. And for me – as someone who’s still quite miffed about how Game of Thrones ended, and nervous for what could actually be the very end of Hannibal – I felt that I could find solace in the very familiar embrace of the classic US sitcom, Friends.
Usually when re-watching old Friends episodes, I tend to go for the ones between season 2 and season 5, as that is undoubtedly my favourite era of the show’s entire run; Ross and Rachel are still on/off breaks to hilarious effect, Monica and Chandler aren’t quite together yet and most importantly, Joey and Chandler live (with their chick and duck in tow) in blissful, bromantic harmony. However, this time around, I was inspired to depart from my regular go-to episodes and remind myself of some of the later seasons.
When I watched Ant-Man earlier this summer, I very quickly fell in love with Paul Rudd. I’ve always enjoyed his comedies, but after seeing his small, yet chiselled Marvel superhero, I realised just how much I had underestimated his capacity to be hot – as well as funny and talented. I also suddenly remembered that he had appeared on Friends as a recurring regular, playing Phoebe’s adorable boyfriend (and later husband), Mike Hannigan. I therefore felt compelled to relive Mike and Phoebe’s romance – from their humble beginnings (in which Joey inadvertently finds Phoebe a date by yelling ‘Mike!’ in the coffee place) to their utterly endearing end as a happily married couple.
Paul Rudd is not the only guest star in later seasons to excite me though. Upon re-watching, I suddenly remembered several starry cameos that I had somehow managed to forget since I last watched them. Jeff Goldblum makes a particularly amusing cameo, as a legendary theatre director who has to contend with Joey’s unorthodox auditioning process, while Danny DeVito also pops up during Phoebe’s hen party, as a tired-out stripper. And of course, in season 10, we also get several glimpses of Anna Faris as Erica – the birth Mom to Monica and Chandler’s adopted children.
While these later seasons do have some questionable story-lines (like that brief and ill-advised romance between Joey and Rachel), I’ve found them to be just as enjoyable as my usual favourites. Though it never gets easier to watch that final episode – even if you have re-binge watched it a thousand times – it’s amazing how timeless this show is. The characters at the centre of it all are so endearing to watch that even now, 11 years after it finished, it’s still a beloved and utterly transfixing classic. And that’s why I don’t feel too guilty about spending my summer holidays revisiting the gang at Central Perk.
Watch one of my favourite clips from Season 10, below.