By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The theme song of NBC-TV’s classic sitcom “Friends” proclaims, “I’ll be there for you, ‘cause you’re there for me, too.” When Amy Garcia celebrated her 49th birthday April 19 in quarantine at her Marlborough home, her daughter Maggie was there with a unique idea. Together, they watched 49 episodes of Garcia’s favorite television show, “Friends.”
Garcia noted, “It’s probably quite annoying to watch ‘Friends’ with me because I know all the episodes and lines so well – and Maggie is pretty good at it, too. I can honestly say that I had a great birthday in quarantine.”
A fondness for “Friends” spans three generations of this family. About 10 years ago, Garcia received a Christmas gift from her mother: the “Friends” DVD box set consisting of all 10 seasons’ 236 episodes, which were originally broadcast from 1994 to 2004. Maggie – now age 18 – began watching episodes with her mother and also became a “Friends” fan.
The DVDs gave Garcia an opportunity to see some episodes that she missed from the early seasons. More recently, she viewed its reruns via Netflix.
“I watched ‘Friends’ on regular TV when it was on Thursday nights for 10 years – but back then, if you missed it, you missed it,” she said of the pre-DVD era. “It’s a really well-written show. I fell in love with the characters and the way they interact with each other. I can watch episodes over and over again because I relate to the characters.”
When “Friends” originally aired, Garcia was about the same age as its characters. Also during that time period, she lived for a while in New York City, the show’s setting. She most identifies with the character portrayed by actress Courtney Cox.
“I relate to Monica the most,” Garcia shared. “She has control issues, likes to win and be the best at everything she does – and she gets very upset if she fails. Monica is a magnified part of my personality. As you get older, you let go of some of those things; but I was definitely more like her when I was younger.”
Garcia believes that “Friends” translates well for audiences of multiple generations.
“I sit with my daughter, watching episodes that she has seen before and she still laughs out loud,” Garcia recounted. “The show is timeless.”
In December 2019, this mother and daughter attended a “Friends” pop-up presented in Boston in observance of the 25th anniversary of the show’s premiere. The exhibit featured over 50 original props and replicas from the set, which attendees could use for photo ops. Among the Garcias’ souvenirs are photos of them armed with umbrellas and re-creating the show’s opening credits scene, peeking through the purple door of Monica’s apartment, reclining in the armchairs of the guy’s apartment, and pivoting between narrow stairwell landings while lugging a sofa.
Midway through the “Friends”-viewing birthday marathon, Garcia was pleasantly surprised when three close friends drove by and honked their vehicles’ horns. She joined them outdoors to share air hugs and converse with social distancing.
Another surprise for Garcia was the delivery of a birthday cake ordered by Maggie. The cake was decorated with contemporary frosting images: a bar of soap and toilet paper rolls.
It was no surprise, however, that Garcia enjoyed viewing 49 “Friends” episodes throughout her birthday and up to 2 a.m. the following morning.
“Even though I own the DVD set, I was very upset when ‘Friends’ was taken off Netflix,” she recalled. “If ‘Friends’ were still on Netflix, that’s what I would be watching while working from home in quarantine.”