Book Review: I'll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Title: I'll Be There For You: The One About Friends
Author: Kelsey Miller
Publication Date: October 23rd 2018

Synopsis: "This definitive retrospective of Friends incorporates interviews, history and behind-the-scenes anecdotes to offer a critical analysis of how a sitcom about six twentysomethings changed television forever.

When Friends debuted in 1994, no one expected it to become a mainstay of NBC's 'Must See TV' lineup, let alone a global phenomenon. In the years since, Friends has gone through many phases of cultural relevancy, from prime-time hit to '90s novelty item to certified classic. Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe have entered the pantheon of great television characters, and millions of people around the globe continue to tune in or stream their stories every day.

I'll Be There For You explores all aspects of the show from its unlikely origins to the elusive reasons why we still watch it. Journalist and pop culture expert Kelsey Miller relives the show's most iconic moments, analyses the ways in which Friends is occasionally problematic and examines the many trends it inspired, from the rise of coffee-shop culture to 'Friendsgivings' to the ultimate '90s haircut, The Rachel."

My thoughts: Okay, let's get one thing out of the way straight up - I am a long time fan of Friends. I watched the occasional episode when I was a kid and didn't really understand the jokes, just laughed when my parents and older brother did. When I was older, I decided to watch it in order and kind of... just kept going back to the beginning. I tell you, it drove my brother nuts when he would come home to find me re-watching episodes that he had (also) seen a hundred times. He would ask why I wasn't watching anything new. And I didn't really have an answer for him. But Friends was just a comfort watch to me by that time. I did recognise the problematic things within the series, and still do.

So when I saw that a book was coming out about Friends, I was honestly a little apprehensive. I worried it was just going to be a little piece about the popularity of Friends, without much substance. It really proved me wrong there.

This book not only talks about the origins of Friends - the writers, the cast slowly being added, etcetera - but it also takes a closer look at why people like it so much, and even at some of the more problematic parts of the series like how the main cast is all white, the portrayal of homosexuality and the homophobic jokes, and even thoughts on the portrayal of transgender people.

I will say that, even though the book does dig into these topics, I still feel like they could have dug deeper. However, I appreciated the author talking to people from each minority group about each of these issues and getting their thoughts on them, and putting them in alongside people that still love the show even whilst seeing its flaws. 

This is basically a book full of nostalgia for me, and I felt joyful about revisiting Friends with fresh eyes through this. Even though I think it could have dug deeper, I still found it to be insightful, interesting, and above all wonderfully entertaining. A hugely enjoyable read.

{I received a review copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

You would like this book if: Well, obviously, if you like Friends, you will probably like this book. If you're looking for a bit of a dig into the problematic parts of Friends, you will like this.

Rating:  8/10

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