It was probably a mistake to watch it, but the Katie/Matt interview with the Friends cast sucked me in. The cast talked about all that’s changed for them in the last ten years, about where they thought it would go, about how they got started. The producers discussed the original vision of the show – young single people living in the city, struggling with life, love, career, the unknown… leaning on their friends.
I’m not going to try and dismiss how much i’ve enjoyed the show, nor deny that i intend to (someday) buy all the seasons on dvd so i know it will never really end. But i’m not all torn up about the last episode tomorrow. It is, after all, a tv show. Actors – who get paid much much more than me to do something infinitely more fun all day and pass it of as “work” – reading a script assembled by someone else, with clothes hand-picked and hair professionally styled by legions of experts, all for the purpose of something as hollow and fleeting as entertainment – a laugh, a moment, a fuzzy memory.
What does bother me, tho, is how little my life is like a tv show. I know it’s not supposed to be, but also i know i’m not alone in saying i always hoped – against reason and precedent – that i would end up as one of those six. We all hoped that, that’s why we really like the show.
Furthermore, i guess i always figured that by now in my life i would at least be a little bit closer to that ideal. I’ve spent my post-college years trying to make and keep good friends. In some ways i think i moved to a city searching for that epitome of young single life, and there are many days where i think i should move to a bigger one, a faster, flashier, harder one, someplace where i have no choice but to succeed or die trying.
So often i’ve half-laughed at the theme song, at the idealism that friends will “be there for you” to combat the angst of being “stuck in second gear.” Half-laughed because i so often feel stuck exactly there, but not so stuck that there isn’t still a light at the end of the tunnel. But lately i’m laughing less, as another year goes by and still my “job’s a joke, [i’m] broke, [my] love life’s d.o.a.” Isn’t it supposed to get better with time? Should i learn something, make progress, improve? Even if the goal is a bit lofty, the expectation based largely in fake tv reality, is it really so unreasonable that i should expect a few years’ time to improve things? Why then does the ideal shrink away instead of growing nearer?
Perhaps the problem lies just there – this ideal is a hollywood one, fake and plastic and too-perfect, dangled at nose-height but just out of arm-reach to sell dvd’s and coffee and barcaloungers. So i’ve been chasing a mistaken fantasy. Or, if not chasing it, at least secretly hoping that it would fantastically appear, and unconsciously using it as the yardstick to measure my post-college success. Like any hollywood fantasy it is idealistic to a fault – single people with transient jobs can’t afford an apartment like that in New York, for one. And nobody lives across the hall from their best friends in “real life.” Furthermore, people are not really as funny, pretty, passionate, ambitious, clever or lucky as those six. Or at least, if there are any people like that, they have better things to do than hang out with people like me, so they might as well not exist anyway. And most of all, despite their willingness to say “i’ll be there for you” right along with The Rembrandts, nobody’s friends are that loyal, dependable, and true. People are dishonest, untrusting, self-absorbed and fickle. Don’t try to disagree with me – we all are, myself included. Despite what may be good intentions, we all abuse our friends (and usually royally mistreat our family). We are all a bit like Monica’s parents. I wonder sometimes why we bother at all with each other – it doesn’t seem like any of us are really worth all the effort.
I think perhaps i should move to NYC and become a struggling actor. I hate moving, but for once in my life maybe i should just get rid of everything instead of keeping it all in the hope i might need it someday; i could then move with only a suitcase. I have no experience as an actor, but it seems like so many of the currently famous ones didn’t either. The struggling part i wouldn’t even have to fake – if i can be a struggling programmer in Seattle, i can be a struggling actor in New York. Once you’re already “struggling” i don’t think there’s different grades or levels of struggle, so even if acting was even less prosperous than what i’m doing now (don’t see how that’s possible) i could still just be “struggling” and leave it at that. But it would all be worth it, when i finally break into show business, and can start living my life inside a sitcom where people are funny, you wear new clothes every day, there’s a room full of people who always laugh at your jokes and “ahhh” at your pain, and your new hollywood friends sing along with the theme song and mean it.