Matthew Perry passed away on October 28. It was news that shook society not only because he was a beloved celebrity but because tens of millions of people, obeying the title of Friends, considered him just another friend of his gang. And, after his death, the audience has involuntarily paid tribute to him: Friends, at least in the United States, is once again one of the most watched series on television.
The study comes from Nielsen, the audience measurement company in the North American country, which counts the minutes of viewing of each content. According to the data obtained, the week of October 30 to November 5, 860 million minutes of Friends were watched on Max, the platform formerly known as HBO Max. This is the equivalent of 36 million episodes and since it arrived on the platform in 2020 it has not obtained similar data.
This places the sitcom by Marta Kauffman and David Crane in fourth position only behind the Spider-Man movie: Crossing the Multiverse, Grey's Anatomy and a Suits that, after becoming the revelation of the summer when it was included in the catalog of Netflix remains from strength to strength while Aaron Korsch, its creator, develops a series set in the same fictional universe. Yes, except for the superhero, the most watched series have something in common: they are veterans, they have hundreds of episodes and, therefore, the public can binge watch them endlessly.
And what surprise does this audience analysis hold? That, according to Nielsen, two thirds of the Friends audience were people under 35 years old. This means that, as has already been indicated in recent years thanks to streaming, Friends is a series that connects with the public beyond the nostalgia factor: many young people have seen it for the first time seriously with its arrival on the platforms.
Perry, who had a tough struggle with drugs since filming Friends, based the last years of his life as an activist against addiction, opening up about his experiences. Despite having headlined more television series after the sitcom ended in 2004, he never found that same level of success, although he lived comfortably: for the final seasons of Friends he earned a million dollars per episode.
With Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc, he shared an incomparable experience on a television level: as he himself acknowledged, he couldn't even walk down the street due to his popularity and the affection he aroused in fans. While the actors initially asked for their privacy to be respected as they processed the death, as the six remained in contact, they paid their own tribute on social media as audiences searched for Perry on Friends, a quintessential happy place.