Almost 20 years ago a phenomenon hit our TV Screens and changed the way we looked at sitcoms. It revolutionized the way we perceived TV entertainment and the kind of comedy it explored has been blatantly plagiarized by contemporary sitcoms(Not naming any names, but you know which ones ?
Well, that was quite a grand opening line for an article on a TV show that aired 20 long long years ago, you might say. (Most of us reading this article would have barely learned to walk). But I like grand openings and I’ll fight with anyone who say they don’t.
So, why did I choose to write about F.R.I.E.N.D.S and moreover why Phoebe Buffay specifically, some of you skeptics might ask. Well, F.R.I.E.N.D.S because I am sort of a loner ( yes! run away ! now !) and writing about them is my way of compensating. And Phoebe Buffay, because I find some redeeming qualities in her(And secretly in love with her). Given the background, I feel I can start talking about them and I am really grateful to the people who have continued reading
So, imagine this, you are hanging out with a bunch of friends and you made a joke and nobody quite understood it. Now, a normal person in that situation would become embarrassed and would be pretty careful of making a joke next time. Because people might find you weird and you don’t want to loose your prestigious friendship that you put so much blood and sweat into. And God forbid you would end up a loner. But some of you lucky ones might have real good friends and they sort of forgive you. And you dare to make another joke. Oh ! What do you know? People don’t get this one too. Ah! Disappointment!
This is what Phoebe had to do for 10 years. Yes, some of her jokes were funny but most of them were really time fillers for the producers. So, she had to make jokes that people didn’t quite get and had to be weird and have this uncanny psychic ability. Whats the big deal in that, you might ask. To that I would say, look at what her character accomplished. She added a new dimension to the whole cast. She was someone that people with screwed up lives could relate to and through her they could feel its just fine to be weird and still be accepted in a group and be equally loved and cared as others.
Love shuv toh theek hai ! But, you might say, she got millions of dollars to do that and you would have been weird or made unfunny jokes or done anything for a million dollars. True. But not everybody gets lucky. Except me, I am really lucky. For my last birthday, I had to call up people and ask them to wish me because I had no friends to celebrate with. Sad story ? . But it’s not true. Apne keemti ansu bacha ke rakho.
Well, to be fair, her job didn’t get any easier as the show progressed. Primarily because the show was an instant hit as soon as it premiered. And they had this huge pressure of meeting people’s expectations right from the first episode. And some of you working in a corporate might know what pressure feels like. Moreover, from fifth season where everyone was getting married or pregnant or having affairs, she had nothing much going to sort of pull her character through. She HAD to be funny. Monica and Chandler were married so it was like watching one person on the screen. Rachel was too cute. She could have just been there without saying anything. Ross could have just gone about talking about Rachel and people would have bought that. Joey also had similar sort of a challenging role as Phoebe. But, he was best friends with Chandler and a funny bit here and there with him helped him pull through. She also added a whole new dimension to the conversations that they used to have at Central Perk. Oh! I already covered the new dimension thing. My bad. So, I am running out of things to write for Phoebe. I guess I’ll just go back to loving her.
To conclude, Lisa Kudrow beautifully played Phoebe Buffay and has stayed true to her character throughout all the seasons. She is one of the most powerful characters created on screen. You can’t ignore her if she is in a frame. You are just pulled to watch her.