I’m sitting in bed, laptop open and snacks ready, the "Friends" theme song that I have heard over 100 times comes on. I recline a little more in bed and take a deep breath, thinking about how I should probably be studying for Applied Calculus instead of binge-watching "Friends" for the third time in a row, but it’s my favorite episode.
It's the one where Ross tries to seem completely fine with the fact that Rachel and Joey are dating, but he is clearly not fine. I laugh a little thinking about the scene where Ross is just completely obliterated holding a hot pan of fajitas without gloves and doesn’t even realize it. Studying for Calculus can wait, I’ll just watch one more episode.
I’m not sure what it is about "Friends" that I am always so drawn to. Is it the fact that I could recall every episode and every shocking moment that happens that I already know about? Or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have to think about all the responsibilities and issues I need to deal with while I’m watching? Maybe it’s a mix of the two that always makes me click “watch again.”
Whatever it is, I know I can just fully immerse myself into whatever episode I’m watching. It’s like a little 23-minute break in my day, and you’d be surprised by what just 23 minutes can do for your mind. I don’t have to think about my upcoming assignments, missing my long-distance boyfriend, or the fact that I still haven’t heard back from any of the summer jobs I applied to.
What made me choose "Friends" over any other loveable rom-com? Why not "How I Met Your Mother" or "Jane the Virgin"? I think it has to do with how classic it is. I always picture my mom sitting in our old living room in Queens with her favorite hazelnut flavored coffee in hand, reclining and laughing at the first airing of the episode where Ross gets stuck in leather pants while trying to use the bathroom. It’s the warmth and nostalgia that originally made me choose "Friends," but I’m not watching it for the third time in a row because of that.
Yes, I love the visual of my mom from the 90s, but I think that my reasoning for re-watching "Friends" changes depending on what’s going on in my life. Towards the beginning of the year, I was really struggling with everything changing around me. Freshman year is not an easy adjustment, and I think that almost everyone can agree on that. Everything felt completely new, there was no familiarity with my new dorm, friends, or even the pathways I took to get to my classes.
But the predictability of "Friends" had given me a piece of my life back from before I started college. It became my refuge when the unfamiliarity was too overwhelming. Knowing that Chandler would tell Monica he loves her for the first time after putting a giant raw turkey on her head, or when Ross says Rachel’s name at the altar instead of his fiancé’s, somehow made me feel a little more normal in a place where I hadn’t found myself yet.