All Those Glittering Years: On “Follies”, “Friends: The Reunion”, and the Road They Didn’t Take

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Look at these people, Aren’t they eerie?

Look at this party, Isn’t it dreary?

I’m so glad I came

— Sally, ‘Don’t Look at Me” from Follies (1971)

The Friends set is not crumbling. The Russian dressing colored couch in Central Perk is not in tatters, and the moths haven’t eaten at the corners of its upholstery. The foosball table in Joey and Chandler’s apartment isn’t in pieces. The garish purple paint in Monica’s apartment isn’t wilting and weeping off the walls. Everything is as it was, unmoored by time. Well, except its cast. One by one, they tacitly enter the soundstage, walking through time the supertext of the scene. And with pop up clones of the sets that have traveled across the country, the world, Friends doesn’t exist so much as the ghost of 1990s pop culture and its sweeping influence; it is its mummification.

Read the full essay here.