Retro Binging Brings Character Clarity
How you doin’? Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, et. al, it’s easy to sit for most of one’s natural life and binge on a favorite or fashionable program. Seems like most viewers indulge themselves on current or recently departed series but since last summer we’ve been binging long-gone series: “Friends” and “Frasier”. The result is a retrospective recasting of my feelings about certain actors and characters.
Let’s start with “Friends.” We were not regular viewers when the series aired in the 90’s and early 2000’s. In fact, I had never seen an entire episode before my wife and I decided to kill some brain cells by watching the whole 10 year run over the course of a few months last summer and fall. Going into this all I had to go on was my years ago crush on Courtney Cox from her days as Alex Keaton’s girlfriend on “Family Ties,” glimpses of Jennifer Aniston as the hot babe on the magazine covers, Lisa Kudrow as the goofy sister of a character who looked like her on “Mad About You,” and then the guys to whom I paid no attention..especially David Schwimmer who just seemed, from the promos, like a whiny guy who needed an ass loosening. After more than 200 episodes and living through the interminable Ross and Rachel drama, Joey’s up and down and down and down and up acting career, Monica’s OCD, Chandler’s SO NOT HAPPY schtick and all the rest, I decided the following: My crush on Courtney Cox was crushed by her character’s OCD, Jennifer Aniston is a gifted comedienne but should never wear bangs, Lisa Kudrow was the best actress and her character the most fun to watch, to act that dumb but engaging, Matt LeBlanc had some mean acting chops, Matthew Perry WAS SO NOT GONNA HAVE ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL SERIES, and David Schwimmer would be whiny forever. Honestly, Rachel should have kept going to Paris and found a hot guy in black turtleneck loaded with gift cards from a trendy cafe’.
In the case of “Frasier,” the analysis is much more concise. On “Cheers” Frasier was merely a pompous loser. On that character’s spinoff, Frasier evolved into a pompous loser with an awesome apartment in Seattle. Indeed, his brother Niles and father, Martin were much more fun to watch but the female characters, Daphne, played by Jane Leeves, and Peri Gilpin’s Roz were the secret sauce that gave the series its bite. Indeed, while psychiatrist “Frasier” may have been the titular character, in retrospect he’s the one who needed his head examined and his shrink-rapt brother, a blow-up doll.
Binging on The Bings…and Their Friends
My wife and I just lived 10 years in 3 months. That’s because we plowed through all 235 episodes of “Friends.” We boycotted the show during its run because we were loyal to “Seinfeld” and thought “Friends” was a sanitized, read that, “less New Yorky/Jewish” version even though it was set in New York and the siblings Ross and Monica Geller were Jewish. We were also loyal to Seinfeld because he dated a friend of mine for several years and attended my under grad college, SUNY Oswego, for a short time. To be sure, we never uttered a word to each other.
Oh yeah, we heard about the Ross and Rachel angst that lasted the entire run of the show and I think I saw somewhere, probably TV Guide, that Chandler and Monica got married, but that was it.
Here are my conclusions about what likely happened to the six characters after the finale:
1-The marriage between wisecracking Chandler and uptight control freak Monica would end when he replaces their twin babies’ diapers with fart cushions.
2-Dimwit actor-Lothario Joey is killed when he suffocates attempting to have sex with a box of styrofoam.
3-Free-spirit masseuse Phoebe goes on to a career massaging Bernie Sanders’s poll numbers
4-The beautiful fashion plate Rachel realizes wimpy, whiny Ross is not only a horrible, annoying mate, but his greasy, wet hair is actually a growing medium for morel mushrooms. She leaves him for a handsome mannequin she saw in the window of Saks. Ross says, “Oh darned!”
I’ll likely miss work for a few days while I use a mental enema to flush hearing peppy theme song, “I’ll Be There for You” 235 times. As Chandler might say, “could that song BE any more cloying!”
I kinda preferred Phoebe’s “Smelly Cat.” After all, as the lyric goes, “it’s not your fault.”