The One About the TV Theory of Friendship

Originally Published: September 11th, 2013; Updated: June 24th, 2014

When I was growing up, I totally thought that life would be like an episode of Friends. You know, I’d have an incredible apartment in NYC’s West Village with my best friend as my roommate, and across the hall, in an equally nice-for-New-York-City apartment would be our other two bests; we’d all hang out as a big group in a coffee house downstairs instead of going to work and THAT WOULD TOTALLY BE REALISTIC, RIGHT?

But that’s not exactly how things tend to play out, is it? Life is not like a TV show, and even if it was, the likelihood of you and your friends getting apartments in the same building, let alone across the hall from each other, at the same time where you live happily ever after, completely ignoring the harsh realities of #life are slim to none.

The truth is, friends come and go and it’s kind of impractical to think that you’d be able to see your friends all day, every day and still grow up and become a fully-realized adult.

I have this theory, though, that life is, in fact, akin to a scripted TV show.

The Basics:

1. Your life always has a cast of characters.

2. Some of these characters are series regulars; they play a vital role in the development of your life’s story lines and their subplots all contribute to your greater arc.

3. Some characters are recurring; these are the people that pop in and out of your life at uneven intervals. They cause drama, help you through a rough time, date you and leave you only to turn up two seasons years later unexpectedly. And then they’re gone. Some of these are fan favorites:

Some of them have their own hate groups.

But, for better or worse, they do contribute to your story.

4. Some main characters leave the cast. Whether it be to move away for a job, or for love, or for their sense of self, sometimes big players in your life leave.

5. New characters are always cast. Whether you acknowledge it right away or not, the characters that you were thought were vital to the show end up getting replaced with the most unlikely of heroes:

Valerie was TOTES the best bitch.

6. Sometimes, the writing get’s really, really bad. Holiday Armadillo bad.

Hey, we all go through these stages in life where everything sucks and nothing seems to be working out. Everyone experiences a lull. It’s natural.

7. Just as there is bad writing, there are also episodes that are bright and funny and totally wonderful and end up being the best of the series. The best part? Sometimes they happen during the lowest rated seasons and end up being the most underrated episodes.

8. Everything seems to happen in short, episodic bursts. Doesn’t it always seem like all the good news and all the bad news is concentrated into periods, with downtime in between? Weird, huh?

9. Like every chapter of your life, eventually, every show ends.


Nothing can stay forever. People have to move on and start new chapters.

End Scene.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. Clearly I have a lot of time on my hands. This whole thing started when I read Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman a million years ago in college and Klosterman wrote about Saved by the Bell and the odd year where suddenly Jessie and Kelly disappeared and were replaced, with no mention by ANY of the cast, with leather-clad motorcycle bitch Tori. And then, at the end of the season, when it was time for graduation, Tori disappeared and Kelly and Jessie reappeared as if nothing happened. #CRAZY.

I mean, it’s not like Kelly Kapowski went all Marissa Cooper and died in a blaze of glory:

And it’s not like Jessie went AWOL and decided to go to Europe to study acting (paging Brenda Walsh, come in Brenda Walsh).

It’s just that neither of them were mentioned. At all. So, presumably they were there, at Bayside High School, studying and being cheerleaders in the corner and like, catching up with Zach and the gang at The Max late at night when Tori was busy riding her bike around town?

Like…who WAS Tori?

Isn’t that kinda true to life, though?

We have friends that we hang out with ad nauseam until one day, we just don’t hang out with them as much and we meet new people who fill those voids until they’ve overstayed their welcome and we’re like, “Wait, old friends, come back, #iMissYou.”

Yes, it’s kind of crazy to think about episodic TV as a blueprint for #life, but to me it makes total sense. In a #GrandScheme sort of way, not as a literal interpretation, obviously (like the foolish FRIENDS dream of my youth).

As I grow older, I think about all my friends, all the cast members in the TV show of my life, and I can’t help by think about how life, with all of it’s constant predictability, still seems to be somewhat unpredictable. The cast that I thought would be featured in my life as I got older, aren’t. Some fade in and out. Some leave and come back. Some are there through thick and thin. And there are always new characters around every corner, whether I wanted or expected them or not.

Then again, what do I know? #GonnaGoWatchFRIENDS



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