Friends bids a fond farewell to E4

Posted on 4 September 2011
By Matt Barden
  • Share:

These are dark, troubling times. There was something comforting, something familiar about knowing that everyday without fail you could tune into Channel 4, E4 or E4+1 and 95% of the time you were going to find the friendly faces of Chandler, Joey, Monica, Rachael, Ross and Phoebe.

Channel 4 have terminated their long term Friends contract and have aired their final episode in the lives of six 20-somethings, living and working in the Big Apple.

The series ran for 10 seasons between 1994-2004, making global superstars of our caffeine addicted amigos. 

Many sitcoms have come and gone in that time, but Friends stood strong, not only catering to devout fans of the show but picking up a whole generation of new ones during its Channel 4 time.

E4 will try to fill the bottomless void with the airing of brand new US sitcom, Happy Endings, a show about…wait for it, six 20-somethings, living and working in Chicago.

Happy Endings is not original in content but does try something different by playing with the custom, stereotypical roles of your usual sitcom (gay guy is a beer swilling, sport loving slob, black guy is wimpish and under the wife’s thumb).

How I Met Your Mother already airs on E4 and has gone someway to ease the pain of losing a show that many viewers grew up with. Focusing on five (got to mix it up sometimes) friends living in New York, it is already in it’s seventh season in America.

But Friends was the original, the mother to all ‘group of friends living in a large US city sitcom’ and will always be remembered that way. 

The premise was unrealistic and incestuous. For 10 years they saw each other everyday and rarely got pissed with each other, everybody fancied everybody at some point and Joey must’ve contracted at least 20 STDs.

But we loved them. The group dynamics worked, the writing got sharper each series and the actors became true comedy sitcom greats (I’m looking at you Joey and Ross).

We sat and watched their lives unfold and saw a little bit of us in each character. Some time over the last 10 years most people will have been asked ‘which Friends character are you?’ 

Friends took the stereotypical, default sitcom characters – the weird one, the geeky one, the smart-ass one, the dumb one, the sexy one and the controlling one, and made them unique and fresh. People cared and I doubt I will be the only one sad not to see them on TV a hundred times a day.

Friends has been picked up by Comedy Central, but for Freeview viewers it is an end of an era.