"Friends" and the illusion of perfect adult friendships - Deepstash

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The Lie Of The Sitcom 'Friends'

The Lie Of The Sitcom 'Friends'

The friendships of Friends are something of a marvel. Six vastly different people in their young adulthood with disparate wants, goals, professions, and relationships all closely orbit one another (and a single coffee shop). Whenever they need each other, there’s always someone available to help or comfort them.

Monica, Rachel, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, and Joey live together and love each other — and eventually find their happily-ever-afters with each other, too. But the cruel lie of Friends and so many shows like it is that in real life, friendships often don’t operate like that at all.


173 reads

Wrong Expectations Of A Relationship

Wrong Expectations Of A Relationship

Television and movies have long given us unrealistic expectations for romantic relationships. There are rarely any perfectly timed meet-cutes or mad dashes to the airport, and the chances of an ironic misunderstanding that lead you to the love of your life are slim to none. But less attention has been devoted to how television and movies shape our perception of friendships, too, in ways that don’t always reflect reality.

Modern adult friendships aren’t just challenging to create and maintain — some evidence suggests they are also in decline.


157 reads

No Time For Friendships

No Time For Friendships

Americans today lead increasingly busy lives, and as members of our friend groups grow into their careers and relationships, incomes and schedules start to vary. People move away for new jobs or to be closer to family. Distance and time become barriers in a way they weren’t when everyone was young, single, and devoted to their found families.


153 reads

Everything You See On TV Isn't True

Everything You See On TV Isn't True

TV reinforces the fantasy that true friendships are and should be deeply close but require no real effort to maintain. It’s a stark difference from the way we know friendships operate in our own lives — as meaningful but sometimes fleeting relationships that can eventually dissolve because we have no language, script, or social expectation for how to seriously integrate friendships into our adult lives.


124 reads

The Real World

The Real World

 Real friendships are rife with conflict, separations, jealousies, and reconciliations. They are relationships like any other, stretching through their growing pains and sometimes snapping from the stress of ongoing tension. But none of that ever seems to make it to a television screen. As a result, we’re left idealizing relationships that wouldn’t happen outside the context of scripted television.


129 reads

Change Is The Only Constant

Change Is The Only Constant

And as an audience, we want closure when stories end. We spend years with characters and invest in their lives. It makes sense that our journey ends as they exit the phase of life in which we met them. But over time, this accumulation of choices has trained us to associate friendships with the spaces where they initially thrive. And we don’t have great models for how friendships should endure when they exist outside the realm of convenient proximity, despite the fact that in the real world, people’s locations and jobs are constantly changing.


101 reads

Friendship Needs Work!

Friendship Needs Work!

But perhaps more insidious than the portrayal of a too-close friendship is the lack of work their relationship seems to require. Disagreements and miscommunications between them are quickly resolved within the span of an episode or two, and very little time is allotted to working through the disloyalties, real or imagined, that have infected their friendship. Conflict resolution is unnecessary when your love for each other supersedes all.


89 reads

Catching Up To The 2022 Reality

Catching Up To The 2022 Reality

Slowly but surely, television is catching up to this glaring emotional disparity. Shows such as Insecure are finally taking a hard look at what happens when a friend group fractures, and how deeply wounding it can be to fall out with the person who used to know you best.  Friendships take time and dedication to maintain. The fallout felt real and hurtful, in part because there have been so few honest, realistic cultural scripts in media for how friendships should end.


85 reads

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

Perhaps what viewers really want, if we’re being honest, is for the friendship dynamics of our favourite TV characters to never really change or evolve as they do in our real lives. We want them to stay frozen in that inexplicably spacious purple apartment in ’90s New York City.

If only our own friendships could be so pat.


80 reads



We are a group, not a team - something I never want to say about my colleagues.

The TV version of friendship isn't real.

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