Why India Loves ‘Friends’

How a 1994 show set in New York became — and remains — a beloved comfort watch on the other side of the world.

Characters hang out at Central Perk 'Friends' (1994-2004), Warner Bros.
Characters hang out at Central Perk 'Friends' (1994-2004), Warner Bros.

Siddhant Adlakha


July 5, 2021


12 min

Producers and writers Marta Kauffman and David Crane probably didn’t realize that their sitcom premise — documenting the lives of six friends during their 20s and early 30s in New York City, that period in life when “friends are family” — would become a global phenomenon. It had taken them months to cast the six , most of them completely unknown actors. Yet, in an era when TV shows were regularly canceled, Friends somehow managed to last — through 10 years, 10 seasons, writers’ strikes, the Y2K bug — and leave a lasting mark on global culture, from the “Rachel” haircut to iconic lines like “We were on a break!”

The show, which aired on NBC from 1994 to 2004, would draw in nearly 53 million U.S. viewers for its most popular episode and win several Emmys and SAG awards. In the later years, the actors — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer — would each command a record-high salary of $1 million per episode.

But it wasn’t just America that was in love with Friends. Some of its most ardent fans were English-speaking millennials from India — even though they wouldn’t get to see the show in the country until 1999, nor the final season until 18 months after its conclusion. For them, Friends offered a form of escapism and personification of American culture that was hard to ignore.

Join today to read the full story.


Already a subscriber? Log in