You know that thing they say about how mixing business and pleasure ruins both things? Apparently that doesn’t apply when your job is writing, your pleasure is Friends and your name is Kelsey Miller. The author recently released her second book, I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends, which, as the title suggests, is a book totally and completely about the sitcom-turned-cultural-phenomenon of Friends.
Miller spent the better part of a year watching the series, doing research and conducting interviews trying to pin down exactly what it is that makes Friends so iconic and keeps it culturally relevant 25 years later. In the ultimate testament to the show’s undying watchability, Miller admitted Friends is still her go-to when she’s in a pinch.
“I watched it constantly when I was writing—I was dreaming about it all the time; it was driving me crazy,” Miller told etalk‘s Traci Melchor. “[The book] came out and I was like, ‘Okay, probably done for a little while at least.’ And then I was at the gym and my ‘gym show’ that I normally watch had run out and I was like, ‘I’m just going to do it. I’m going to watch Friends at the gym as if I didn’t just write this entire book.'”
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Rachel Green, forever fashion icon
IBTFY isn’t just a Friends watching guide. It tells the decade-long story, not just of six twenty-something die-hard besties navigating NYC, but also the actors, the audience and the culture the little half-hour sitcom formed and defined. Calling it the “ultimate comfort watch,” Miller explained that it really is so much more than a TV show—in fact, it defined a whole era of women’s hair.
“It’s one of those things you just can’t escape,” Miller said, who is a writer at Refinery29 and the author of the anti-diet book, Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life. “It’s just interwoven with our culture… A lot of the fashion that you see that exemplified the ’90s were, I think, first popularized on Friends. A lot of the stuff we often attribute to Clueless, for example, the knee socks and the little skirt, you saw that maybe a year or two before on Friends.”
Having spent so much time with the show and talking about it, Miller also has some ideas about what a 2019 reboot would look like. Spoiler: there would be—gasp!—cell phones and—double gasp!—actual diversity.
“It would hopefully—knock wood—be a lot more representative, a lot more inclusive and diverse,” Miller said, pointing out a common critique of the glaringly white, heteronormative series. “It would certainly handle and acknowledge the queer community differently, for example. I think you’d see a lot less ‘gay jokes’ which was just sort of the fallback in the ’90s.”
As much as Friends is widely adored, it’s fairly obvious that a show set in an all-white version of New York City where everyone is straight, cis-gendered and conventionally gorgeous, wouldn’t be a fit in 2019. (That being said, we’re totally ready for the Millennial reboot where not only is the cast more representative of the actual world, everyone has Instagram and is drowning in student debt. But we digress.)
Did you know…
Miller’s book isn’t just a culture study, it also gets into fun little tidbits from production. Like the fact that Jennifer Aniston was almost replaced as Rachel after the first season (it’s true!) and that Phoebe’s twin Ursula predated her sister on TV when she appeared on Mad About You. We love a good “Did you know…”.
After all the research and bingeing and analyzing, Miller’s conclusion is (predictably) pretty sweet. What the whole Friends-loving phenomenon boils down to is that we all just really love having friends. Aww!
“I really think that ultimately [the popularity] is because it’s a show about friendship,” she said. “We can talk about the ’90s elements and the nostalgia of it, and that’s all true, but at the core of it, it’s about the experience of having friends which is recognizable and relatable no matter where or when you live.”
So what she’s saying is: Friends will be there for you… Like you’re there for it too.