Friends at the Everyman

   Combat trousers. Curtains. Double Denim. Ska punk. James Van Der Beek crying. Perhaps only Jennifer Aniston's luxuriously bouffant hairstyle acts as a better metonym of the 1990s.

   For a certain generation, one which I fall slap bang in the middle of, no singular TV show is as likely to inspire a trip down memory lane as Friends. Even if we wished to escape it, there was nowhere to run - Marta Kauffman and David Crane's show was a cultural tsunami, event television on a weekly basis.

   I'm also quite certain that E4 was once solely dedicated to making certain that everyone in the country had seen at least every episode four or five times. Even as a casual viewer, I'm quite certain my memory holds more lines from episodes of the sitcom than it does facts about my own family.

Image Credit: Adventures In Tea and Cake

   So, when I was invited to watch the first four episodes of Friends at the Everyman cinema, I jumped at the chance - I'm always fascinated to see how pop culture dates and how people receive it in a contemporary world. With its minimal studio locations, post-Seinfeld vignettes snatched from every day life and a heavy emphasis on sarcasm - would the show still stand up in this more cynical era where traditional sitcoms were rendered almost entirely obsolete by The Office's meta/mockumentary stylings? Just as Nirvana had destroyed hair metal, had Ricky Gervais banished the "laugh track" to antiquity also?

   Seated in the Everyman's comfortable couches and watching the episodes projected straight from DVD rendered the occasion entirely uncinematic - were I here to watch a movie, the inner cinephile and snob in me may have found this setting somewhat unsettling. However, as an area watch the iconic TV show, the surroundings seemed almost perfect - I'm sure quite a few memories were invoked of communal student gatherings by the cosy, intimate locale.

Image Credit: Adventures In Tea and Cake

   The first thing to note with the episodes, before anyone had uttered a word, is just how young the cast looked. This should be an obvious thing to state, seeing how twenty years has passed since their recording, but I was still startled to see Matt Le Blanc look so fresh-faced and Jennifer Aniston still able to use facial expressions. The next thing of note was a 90s fashion I had almost entirely forgotten about - the excessively large shirt. Seeing David Schwimmer battling to not be engulfed by the ill-fitting, tent-like shirt he sported across episodes was almost as amusing as anything that came out of his mouth.

   The humour, particularly to dedicated Friends fans, seems to have stood up well - when asked to tweet favourite lines of the show, a torrent spewed forth of an eclectic and varied variety. Davd Schwimmer, easily the most talented member of the cast, gives Friends a morose and askew sense of humour which forms the show's heart and, watching his turn as Chandler, it becomes apparent what a huge shame it is that Matthew Perry never developed the career his skill-set should have granted him.

  The event was organised by Simplyhealth - they're currently running a Twitter campaign (#shhealthysmile) which is aimed at showcasing how  laughter is good for your health and how being around laughter can be good for you. If this is the case, despite stuffing my face with sweets (we WERE at the cinema after all!), I must have left the screening fitter than I went in. Seeing the laughter Ross and co. inspired in the room certainly cheered me up no end and a night of smiles were had by all.

   I'll be fascinated to revisit Friends again in another twenty years - will the humour still hold up? And will the theme tune by The Rembrandts BE any more annoying?

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