Shelley's Reviews > Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era

Generation Friends by Saul Austerlitz
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This book, unfortunately, left a lot to be desired. However, as a longtime fan of the show, I still found just enough of interest to keep me turning the pages to the end.

Austerlitz goes into exacting, dull detail of every step of how this show was conceived, cast and written. If he could've thrown in the weather on every given day in the process or what people had for lunch, he would've. We're talking a level of unnecessary detail that will test your resolve and ability to remain conscious.

And you're bombarded with so. many. names. You'll get names of all the writers, directors, actors, and others who filled various roles in the creation of this show, large or small, whether realized or possibilities that never came to be. And most of these details are fairly uninteresting. One complaint critics voiced early on about Friends was that six leads was too many (though the show proved them wrong on that); they should try reading about everybody who had a finger in the pie of creating this show and realize that six people to keep up with is child's play.

Once the book moves into the stage where the show is cast and in production, it gets a little more interesting. It's mostly just describing what happened in some episodes, and scenes that were key in characters' development or relationships, and giving an opinion of how those scenes related to character development, or what those storylines gave to fans. It wasn't that exciting, and yet, there's still a real appeal to reading about a show you loved. Even if, like me, you wished for years they'd go ahead and cancel it because quality had fallen way off, but you liked the characters enough that you wanted to see it through to the end no matter what.

When I think about Friends, I remember working at a small newsroom in the '90s, and chatting about it over our desks with a co-worker. We were the same age (give or take 8 months), both Gen Xers, and that show must've struck a chord with us. I remember my friend (and we stayed friends long after we left that newspaper, though at this point we mostly keep in touch via Facebook) going on about Phoebe one day after a new episode aired. "She wore a tiara throughout that entire episode!" That's the comment that comes back to me when I think of watching and talking about the show at the time. I'm not sure if she thought the tiara-as-everyday-accessory was weird or awesome, but she was so excited about it, for good or ill. The show got us invested, thinking about the characters, talking about them. And it did it at a time when people typically watched it the night it aired, which meant fans could talk about it the next day.

That kind of connection to a show, with its flaws and all, is special. It makes books like Generation Friends something many fans will enjoy, to a degree, even with its flaws and all.

I talk about books, life, and what's good on TV at Choco Wino's Magazine Wine Party.
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Reading Progress

February 22, 2020 – Started Reading
February 22, 2020 – Shelved
February 29, 2020 – Finished Reading

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