• Mon, Sep 5 2011

Friends Being on Nick at Nite Makes Us Feel Horribly Old

Growing up, we watched Nick at Nite as a portal into the past: Block Party Summer featured such black-and-white classics as I Love Lucy and The Monkees. But do you know what the newest show to go into this weird retirement/syndication is? Friends! Yes, the sitcom that ended less than a decade ago, in 2004.

Nick at Nite has always been an indicator of age, so we’re pretty shaken up by the show we grew up with in high school and college suddenly being considered a golden oldie. Sure, in some ways it’s a relic of the ’90s, with people actually calling each other and meeting in coffee shops to discuss their love woes. But what does that say about us, who enjoyed it — are we equally outdated and unrealistic?

Here’s the lowdown: Everyone involved wants to “introduce” Friends to the younger generations by encouraging viewers to post about their favorite moments on social media — as if they don’t already know every joke and guest star already. Here’s Nickelodeon’s pitch from July:

The camaraderie and laugh-out-loud comedy of Friends make it a great addition to Nick at Nite’s roster. We’re excited to be offering a contemporary spin on this iconic series by encouraging fans to share their favorite Friends episodes on Facebook.  Who doesn’t remember the first time Ross and Rachel kissed, Phoebe singing “Smelly Cat” or Joey and Chandler’s dueling recliners?

I finally got a DVR and have set it to a “series pass” for Friends, so I think I’m qualified to report that the show plays on at least three different channels, which makes it very likely that the Facebook-savvy kids don’t need any nudging to start watching the show.

We can’t help feel like this is part of some conspiracy to shorten the time that a TV show is modern and current; after all, the Friends actors are all still alive, unlike the stars of Green Acres or The Golden Girls. What’s the rush to crown stuff like One Tree Hill and Degrassi the new classics? They haven’t earned that right. To be honest, we’re not sure if Friends is so universally loved as to be honored like that; we still run into people who never “got” the show.

If Friends is Nick at Nite programming, it makes us reevaluate if we’ve become the “adults” we’re expected to be now that a show that we loved in our adolescence is archived. Apparently Friends has “grown up,” but it’s too soon to say if we’ve become responsible and mature enough to match it.

Yesterday NPR published a response that touches upon our same shock but also puts things in perspective: The author, Linda Holmes, is in her 40s and got into Friends when she graduated from college, whereas we’re in our 20s and 30s now. Linda also points out that Nick at Nite has also aired shows from roughly the same era, like Mad About You and even the very recent Everybody Hates Chris.

It would seem that this programming choice is more about Nickelodeon and its other channels broadening their spheres of influence, as opposed to carbon dating iconic TV shows. But we’re still going to be agonizing over gray hairs and wrinkles — we’ll just do it while watching Friends on yet another channel.

Friends starts its Nick at Nite run tonight at 8 p.m. Each night this week there’ll be a 10-hour “best of Friends” marathon from 8 p.m.-6 a.m.; after that, it’ll air weeknights 10 p.m.-11 p.m. EST.

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