Another thing I did this past weekend was watch a lot of Friends, which was recently added to the Netflix streaming library. Watching it, I was struck by several things:
- Even though I am pretty sure I’ve seen most of these episodes between zero and two times, I remembered plotlines and punchlines far more than I would have expected. I mean, yes, whole seasons of the Simpsons are burned into my amygdala, but I figured that was the exception, rather than the rule. I wonder whether I’d recall other shows I watched a bunch of episodes of zero to two times, like Cosby or Mad About You or Home Improvement or Major Dad or Hearts Afire or Murphy Brown or Cybill. (I watched a lot of stupid sitcoms between 1992 and… well, since 1992.)
- Man, did fashionable dress circa season one for Friends look stupid. That falls away pretty fast, though, or I stop noticing it. Of course, in another twenty years when I sit down and have How I Met Your Mother injected into my brain or whatever, I’ll probably think the same thing about that.
- It turns out everything I know about being in an adult relationship (that I haven’t learned the hard way, slowly and painfully) I know from watching Chandler and Monica. More than once I thought “ah, so that is why I thought that was a good idea” followed by “ah, I see it didn’t work any better for Chandler than it did for me.”
- Ross is way less likable than I remember.
- The sets, costumes, and lighting are all cheaper than I remember.
- There’s a lot more continuity than I remember, callbacks and recurring characters and season-long arcs. I’ve thought about that as being something that started later, after Friends. I’d thought Friends was more like Cheers in that status quo and continuing plot elements were limited only to season premiers and finales, but nope.