The start of a new year, or in this case, a new decade, brings on a reflection of years past and the nostalgic atmosphere that comes along with it. However, what happens when an important piece of remembrance is left inaccessible to a majority of the public? Well, on Jan. 1, 2020, the popular sitcom “Friends” was removed from Netflix. The decision came after WarnerMedia, a new streaming service run by Warner Bros. Studios, outbid Netflix.
Saying Goodbye to “Friends”
Living on the streaming service since 2015, “Friends” has become a popular staple sitcom for many subscribers to binge, reliving a simpler time. In fact, according to data from Nielsen, the show was the second most streamed in 2018. Unfortunately, the adventures of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey will not be available for streaming again until May.
How I feel about Friends being taken off Netflix at midnight. pic.twitter.com/L9HTETm889
— Devynn Helwig (@DevynnElyse) December 31, 2019
As a fan of the show, this comes as a huge disappointment. I am usually an individual who has a habit of re-watching a television series multiple times over until it becomes background noise. “Friends” has been one of those shows for me throughout the years.
It’s sad to see such a popular sitcom leave Netflix especially since it has made a comeback. Considering that many subscribers do not have the funds to purchase multiple streaming services, including myself, many of us have had to say our final goodbyes to the circle of life-long friends. Unsure of how to find my way back to the series, I’ve come to find myself disappointed in Netflix.
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
While many have had to part ways with “Friends,” others have gone through desperate measures in order to hold onto the series. Following a thread on Twitter, many users have posted photos of themselves holding newly bought DVD sets of the show. One user by the name of Kirby posted a photo with the caption: “My mom knew how upset I was about Friends leaving Netflix. A QUEEN.”
My mom knew how upset I was about Friends leaving Netflix. A QUEEN. pic.twitter.com/wK6bVmkeKB
— k i r b y (@mommatotwo_) December 25, 2019
Another user made a post stating that their family had went out to buy a DVD player in order to watch the series after the removal. “My family is so obsessed with friends we have every season on DVD but nothing to play it on but they took it off Netflix so now they’re buying a DVD player,” tweeted Hillary Davis.
Owning a newer model of the MacBook Air and living in a dorm without a TV, I have no way of watching “Friends” unless I decide to drop money I don’t have. The fact that many fans of the series have taken to such desperate measures in order to hold on to the nostalgia that it brings makes me question this new wave of streaming services.
With so many new platforms being released, it seems almost impossible for someone to only have one subscription. While it is true that cable is becoming a thing of the past, I don’t think there’s a need for every cable network to create their own version of Netflix. It’s simple: Make contracts with existing services allowing more subscribers access to their favorite TV shows and movies.
No End in Sight
Sadly, “Friends” will not be the last to leave Netflix in the near future. “The Office” will have a similar fate in 2021 as NBC has purchased the rights for the series. It will reappear on the Peacock streaming service, which launches in April of 2021. Luckily, there won’t be as long of a gap between the show leaving Netflix and its arrival on the NBC platform. However, it still brings up the issue of cable networks and their role in on-demand entertainment.
We're sad that NBC has decided to take The Office back for its own streaming platform — but members can binge watch the show to their hearts' content ad-free on Netflix until January 2021
— Netflix US (@netflix) June 25, 2019
Of course, Netflix is trying to sweeten the deal for subscribers with the purchase of all 180 episodes of “Seinfeld,” which will air in 2021. However, will the series truly replace “Friends” and “The Office”? I’ve never been a fan of “Seinfeld” and I feel as if the series falls a little flat in the sitcom department. That being said, I’m not sure if I have it in myself to replace two of my favorite shows with one that has never really piqued my interest. In a perfect world, “Friends” and “The Office” would not pivot away from being available on Netflix.
Clearly, there is not much for anyone to do regarding the loss of two of the most popular sitcoms. There is only the option of purchasing the DVD set and a DVD player or putting money into additional streaming services. Of course, someone lucky enough may find a few episodes illegally online, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Perhaps, making cable networks and the entertainment industry aware of the dilemma that comes with too many on-demand networks will make a difference. However, that’s unlikely.
With 2020 just beginning, Netflix has already made a point that they won’t always be there for you. Let’s say goodbye to some of our old friends and wonder how we are ever going to run away from our responsibilities now that these binge-worthy series are gone.