In September of 1994, six twenty-something friends living and working in New York City were introduced to us. Little did we know then, they would become Monday night staples in our living rooms for the next ten years. And while Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey were indeed fictional characters on a sound stage within the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles, their every-day happenings were true to the NYC experience.
While the cast were all caucasian and they didn’t catch the subway a whole lot (those scenes were reserved for Elaine’s soliloquies and OG hipster style over at Seinfeld), there were some very real moments that only someone who has lived in Manhattan could identify with. From tackling how expensive this town is, to first kisses on the fire escapes to the narrow living quarters of every apartment, here’s five of the best NYC moments Friends explored – and why the TV show still serves up lessons to any Australian moving State-side.
There is no way in this world you can move furniture up and down a NYC stairwell
In season 5, David Schwimmer proved his comedic abilities with this now-famous scene. When Ross buys a new couch for his top-floor apartment, he refuses to pay extra for delivery. He enlists the help of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and together they try to manoeuvre and manipulate the oversized piece of furniture up the narrow, spiralled staircase. A similar experience happened to a girlfriend of mine. While she paid the delivery service, the couch then didn’t fit in the doorway of the apartment and had to be returned – and transported back down the five flights of stairs. Measure your space, and always hire help.
Getting from the East Side to the West side is stressful
The same can be said for being Downtown when you know you have to be Uptown in 20 minutes. Manhattan is notorious for hitting gridlock during peak hour and if your Uber driver takes one wrong turn, getting back en-route via all of the one-way streets is harder than a newbie navigating the C line. When the subway isn’t an option, running by foot is often quicker as discovered by Ross in season 8. A science professor by trade, he has to get from an NYU class in Greenwich Village to one on Avenue A in 10 minutes which is pretty impossible.
Pest Control is real
All of the apartments in New York are old. Bed bugs are rife. I recently saw a mouse rear its head up through a stovetop at a rental in Brooklyn. A high-profile name recently told me he had to move to a hotel because there was a mouse in his bedroom. It appears then there is a bond shared between a New Yorker and their pest exterminator. This was explored in season 9 of Friends where the animal-loving Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) accidentally killed one of the rats in her apartment. She then felt compelled to raise the rat’s babies, much to the dismay of her boyfriend, Mike (Paul Rudd).
The apartments are SO small
If you live in Manhattan, you know you are going to share a similar living experience to Harry Potter’s bedroom under the stairs. Rent is expensive but the size of the apartments are unbelievably tiny as shown in what a New Yorker will tell you was the most realistic apartment on the show.
The happenings inside those apartments are layered and complex
The density of the apartments is indicative of the number of people and their stories inside them. Behind every door is a little microcosm of friends filled with tales of laughter, livelihoods and love triangles. For a decade we followed the happenings of six, young professionals trying to get by in one of the hardest cities in the world. Ross and Rachel were an anchorage point that kept us glued to the purple walls inside Monica’s apartment. This was one of the greatest scenes and showed the depth of relationships that run through the heart of these dwellings.
Get better New York, we miss you.