Dr David Sorfa comments on the current popularity of the television series Friends

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Daily Record and Sunday Mail

February 3, 2019 Sunday
Edition 1;
National Edition

Friends reunited;
THEY'LL BE THERE FOR TODAY'S KIDS TOO The one where a new generation of fans love their parents' favourite show

BYLINE: Jenny Morrison


LENGTH: 561 words

We all know the story by now... Take six cool and attractive people and place them in upscale accommodation in central Manhattan, despite most of them having precious little source of income.

The formula made Friends the hottest show of the 90s - mainly among the aspirational adults who got hooked on the love stories and one-liners.

Now for the plot twist in which a show from the pre-internet era in which none of the main players appears to own a mobile phone becomes the most popular for five to 16-year-olds in the UK.

Could it BE any more weird? Dr David Sorfa, a senior lecturer in film studies at Edinburgh University, believes the simple title of the show gives a clue to the programme's appeal to a generation more likely to be found alone and on their phones or PS4s than out spending time with their friends.

FANS Sorfa, above, and Higgins He said: "Friends is about quite a large group who are always there for each other and who know they will never stop being friends.

"It is quite a gentle fantasy - a group so close they are like a family but a family that have chosen each other and who they can absolutely trust.

"Friends gives us an idealised view of what friendship is like and it appeals so much to young people because they are of the age when they start to realise friendship is not quite as simple.

"In real life, friends fall out or lose touch, regardless of Facebook. But in Friends, the characters often talk about how they will always be friends and that there is nothing they can do that will ever upset that.

"The idea behind the show is that being with your friends is really the best thing in life - and, of course, that has huge appeal to young people.

"The irony is they're watching this show alone, probably on phones. Watching this group of 'friends' is giving them this sense of community, as they sit in a non-community space."

Sorfa, a fan of the show which was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, admits he often discusses the popularity of Friends with his students.

He says the premise behind the series - the ups and downs of 20-somethings living in New York - makes for easy watching.

The characters - Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross, played by Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer - all have relatable characteristics and Sorfa believes much of the show's success today is also due to the fond place it holds in their parents' hearts.

He said: "A class of students seemed to feel a little guilty about liking it and didn't know why.

"But the fact is, Friends was and is their parents' kind of television.

"They have grown up with this show on in the background.

"But it is a show that has always been familiar to them and that brings with it a sense of comfort."

Dr Michael Higgins, a media and communications lecturer at Strathclyde University, believes the show is aspirational to kids whose friendships are often measured in clicks and likes.

He said: "Friends portrays what a lot of young people would like their friendships to be like.

"There has been discussion recently about whether some storylines might be sexist, racist and not 'PC' when viewed with a contemporary lens.

"But young people like having these discussions."

He added: "With more than 200 episodes made, there is also an almost limitless reserve to watch, which again suits modern viewing."


Period3 Feb 2019

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleFriends Reunited
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletSunday Mail
    Media typePrint
    Duration/Length/Size561 words
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Producer/AuthorJenny Morrison
    PersonsDavid Sorfa


  • television
  • youth
  • audiences
  • nostalgia