Making entertainment timeless: The one with Friends Thanksgiving episodes


Shriya Vanparia

“Friends” is a well known pop culture show from the 90s that holds a lasting place in entertainment. The Sidekick staff writer Shivi Sharma analyzes the comfort and nostalgia of the Thanksgiving episodes from “Friends”.

Shivi Sharma, Staff Writer

“So no one told you life was gonna be this way…”


Ten seasons and a total of 236 installments, amassing an average of 23 million viewers per episode when it was first airing. This is the legacy of “Friends”, the theme song of which most of us can still find ourselves clapping along to.


“Friends” is a sitcom that follows its six leads (Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross and Joey) navigating personal and professional identities in their 20s. Through failed job interviews and dead-end romantic relationships we see these imperfect characters lean on one another, the familiar friendship dynamics comforting.


Thanksgiving seems to be the holiday that “Friends” embraced the most, perhaps because it connects best with the series’ underlying messages.


From seeing old memories in a new light, to failed desserts and odd family members, the nine Thanksgiving-themed episodes showcase the originality of the writers, as each year the same holiday is conceived in an entirely new fashion. It is a testament to the ingenuity of the show; the way the jokes never fall flat, the lovable camaraderie of the cast just as sweet on rewatch.


The noticeable absence of technology and the familiarity within the purple walls of Monica’s apartment brings to the show a closeness and intimacy modern shows have left behind. Thanksgiving conjures the image of a family sitting around a large table, enjoying a laborious meal and catching up with one another. Rewatching “Friends” is the equivalent of this comfort for some, the feeling of an atmosphere they are enveloped into.


The messages of the show encourage viewers to see the humor in their everyday lives. “Friends” shows audiences that eventually, everything will be alright.


For those that enjoyed the show as it aired, it went from connecting with everyday reality to being awash with nostalgia. Now, the sitcom has come to resonate with millennials and Gen Z audiences though reruns and platforms such as Netflix. This continued presence of the show begs the question: what makes entertainment timeless?


Reflecting on pop culture’s past is an important part of learning and growing as a society; we can enjoy pieces of entertainment while still recognizing their flaws. Though “Friends” is still extremely popular, some aspects of the show have aged poorly. Certain gags about body image, homosexuality, feminism and an overall lack of diversity among the cast do not hold up well in modern society’s shifted perceptions.


The point of entertainment is to resonate with people: the showrunners, writers, actors and crew work to fabricate media that viewers can see a piece of themselves in. Stories that we find ourselves relating to throughout the changing contexts of our lives are ones we come back to.


What makes books, movies and television timeless is the way they speak to different aspects of humanity. If a piece of art is able to resonate enough to evoke a response from us, whether that response be laughter or cathartic tears, it has done its job.


Though the plot and setup of each of these episodes varies widely, they all show the group of six becoming closer on a holiday where we are encouraged to count our blessings. The palpable bond between Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross and Joey shows the audience that our friends, the people we choose to keep in our lives, can be a kind of family, too.