It's the most wonderful time of the year; when Santa brings you some excellent TV box-sets and you have enough time off work to actually watch them. But before you dive into that complete Sopranos collection, here's a few arguments as to why you should spend your time in the company of some old Friends...
1) It requires NO effort to watch.
When it first aired (wait for it) NINETEEN YEARS ago, Friends quickly became the most popular sitcom on TV due to its attractive 20-something cast and their oh-so-witty banter. Years of repeats have ingrained the story-lines and jokes into our brains so much that you can enjoy the show even if you're paying it next to no attention. Christmas can be a time when overindulgence makes everything that little bit harder, so trying to watch a gritty crime drama such as The Wire or a cold-sweat inducing thriller such as Breaking Bad might only exacerbate the situation... something as light as Friends is perfect if all you're fit to handle are pretty people saying funny things while you make your way through the last of the Quality Street that nobody else wanted.
2) Episodes are shown in batches of ten or more.
If you're enjoying an episode of Friends on Comedy Central and feel like watching more, then all you need to do is NOTHING. They just keep coming one after the other for hours, which is perfect if you're in such a hungover state that you can't muster the will to press a button on the remote. Not only that, it also means that you can go about any other tasks you want, whether that's playing around on Twitter or getting some housework done. Change a DVD? Look for something on another channel? Who has time to do these things?
3) It looks better than ever.
Unlike yourself, TVs have gotten better and better looking every year since Friends first hit the airwaves. Some of the jokes and references may have dated (Hootie and the Blowfish?) but with HD and widescreen televisions, Friends looks sharper than ever, and if you haven't seen an episode since they were first broadcast then you're in for a visual treat. Well, maybe. Being a massive Friends fan back in the day and having watched every episode on VHS dozens of times, the first time I watched in HD it made me so disorientated I threw up. Admittedly, it was after coming home from a Christmas party and I was unbelievably drunk at the time.
4) There's still episodes you haven't seen.
Friends ran for ten seasons, producing 238 episodes clocking in at a total run-time of over 80 hours. It's very unlikely that you've seen every single minute, especially as a lot of people tuned out during the last few seasons. That means that if you do go on a Friends binge, there's a very good chance you'll fall across some stories you've never seen before, or at least a few new jokes. As well as that, it's fun to look back at old episodes knowing where the characters ended up further down the line. Oh season 3 Chandler and Monica; wait till you see how things turn out for you!
5) It's still got it.
A recent report raised eyebrows by claiming that a McDonalds Double Cheeseburger was in terms of food per dollar the most nutritious thing available today. I state that when it comes to comedy, Friends is still one of the best there has ever been. Granted there have been smarter shows with a better cast of actors and sharper writing, but in terms of an easy watching there is very little to match it. It took a while to really get into it's stride and it lost some of its lustre towards the end, but there's an 8 season stretch in the middle where it stands shoulder to shoulder with the best. Asking people for favourite moments will garner a wide range of responses, from those who prefer the more absurd scenes to those who prefer the whole Ross/ Rachel soap opera that provided many of the series more memorable story-lines. Before you get stuck into whatever box-set you got this Christmas, be sure to reacquaint yourself!
Words by Gerry McBride