Dubai Diaries: The One With All The Re-watching

How does one stop watching Friends?



By Gopika Nair

Published: Sun 26 Dec 2021, 4:50 PM

There’s only one thing I aspire to do at the start of every year. And it’s not to lose weight, be more organised, save money or drink eight glasses of water. It’s to stop watching Friends.

I wouldn’t consider myself a die-hard fan of the sitcom. I don’t own any T-shirts or memorabilia, but I did get ‘The Rachel’ haircut when I was eight (and then a few times after). I didn’t watch the reunion, but I do need to have the show on when I’m eating. I don’t have all 10 seasons on DVD, but I certainly have memorised most, if not all, of the lines.

I guess I am what you would call a die-hard, undercover fan. But it’s not because the show has caught some flak in recent years, with many calling it overrated, problematic and unfunny. It’s because I never seem to watch anything new when I’m on my Friends binge.

Top 10 rankings of movies and TV shows for the year have already started making their rounds, and every year, I strive to check off more than just one thing from the list. After all, even though the world is inundated with choices from the film industry and streaming giants, nothing compares to the feeling of finding — and finishing — a solid movie or TV show.

At worst, you’re overcome with so much emotion that you have to lie under the covers and shoulder a heartbreak that isn’t even yours, as I did with the 2016 film Blue Jay. At best, you feel inspired to read Arthur Rimbaud’s poems and become a more enlightened version of yourself, which was temporarily the case when I finished the Netflix series The Chair.

Admittedly, I can’t recreate the intensity of those emotions when I watch an episode of a show I’ve seen several hundred times. But even though I have access to Netflix and the option to choose from tens of thousands of titles, I default to Friends — and I am not alone in this.

For one of my friends, the equivalent is The Office, while for another, it’s Seinfeld. These titles are no longer relevant enough to make it on any top 10 yearly lists, but the case for rewatching them (over and over and over again) is simple: It’s comforting.

Many people discovered their favourite TV shows and movies were like a security blanket during the Covid-19 pandemic. As uncertainty continues to loom around us, rewatching a show or rereading a book offers a sense of predictability. You don’t have to get to know any new characters, anticipate how the storyline will go or bear the weight of unexpected emotions. You just have to find that one episode, press play and soon enough, you’re in a familiar space, surrounded by faces you know and love.

And sure, I may know the punchline even before Chandler tells his joke, but that hasn’t stopped me from cracking at least a smile.

gopika@khaleejtimes.com


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