This study explores the case of millennials watching the popular sitcom Friends (1994-2004), with an emphasis on how they give meaning to the series in contemporary society. Friends is about six friends in their twenties, living in New York. The series has always been popular and available through reruns on broadcast television, but since it is available via Netflix, its popularity has grown, together with the critique on the series. And the most striking thing about this renewed interest in the series is that it mainly comes from people from the millennial generation, a new audience. This contemporary popularity of Friends can be explained as part of a bigger phenomenon, where a lot of 1970s, 1980s and 1990s television series get remakes, revivals, prequels and sequels. This study tries to explain this phenomenon, with a specific focus on the case of Friends by answering the research question: How do millennials give meaning to the 90s sitcom Friends in today’s world? This study addresses theory from television studies, audience studies and more particular fan studies. The research that is conducted here consists of 13 qualitative, semi-structured interviews with millennials between 19 and 23 years old. The data from these interviews was analysed using the thematic analysis method, five main themes were identified in this analysis. The study found that the motivations to watch Friends are mainly based on recommendations from others, and the easy storyline about the daily lives of the characters. The millennials did not identify with specific characters that much, but they could identify with the stage of life that the characters are in, which made the series overall recognizable for them. What they enjoyed a lot about the series is that it is from the 1990s. For the millennials, this created some sort of nostalgia towards this era even though they have not experienced this era very active themselves. Most of the interviewees even considered themselves fans of Friends and participated in other activities related to the series. Additionally, the preferred Friends over similar, more recent, comedy series like How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family. The reason why they preferred Friends is how they address societal themes and how it is easy to follow and watch when doing something else. When addressing the contemporary critique on the whiteness, and some of the jokes in the series they did not agree at all and argued that for them there were no problematic aspects to Friends. All these aspects together show how the millennials give meaning to Friends in today’s society.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, creative industries, Friends, Millennial generation, Television, Fandom, Nostalgia
Thesis Advisor S. Driessen
Persistent URL
Series Media & Creative Industries
J. Buitendijk. (2019, July). Millennials watching Friends A case study into meaning making of the 90s sitcom Friends among the millennial generation.. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from