People keep complaining about the lack of jobs and perpetual gestation period of today’s twenty-somethings. We’re poor, underemployed, and all trying to find our dream jobs, but we’re missing the real problem. It isn’t the rampant drug use, promiscuous attitudes, or mental instability. Let’s face it, that’s what makes life worth living. The issue is our lack of a varying group of friends that all have different outlooks on life and entertaining personalities.
Pop culture has given us Friends, Happy Endings, Sex and the City, Seinfeld, Cheers, Skins, Girls, and almost every other show as a template, but it just doesn’t exist in the real world. Our friends are all the same people with slight variations, because we either grew up together, work together, or partied together. Why can’t we have the fast paced conversation and variety of a random group of people brought together by coincidence and fate? Well, because it’s ridiculous and it only makes sense on TV. Here’s why:
You Don’t like Different People: I’m not giving you a pass to be homophobic, racist, xenophobic or some other weird thing you find in the forums of the BNF website. Those people all have their collections of friends, just watch Romper Stomper or The Believer. Those guys are always getting together and having a good time bashing the heads of Hindis and Jews. The racists in my home town loved to bond by calling me nigger. It was a good laugh (side note: sorry about those missing teeth and the broken nose Sean, but ‘dirty nigger’ is something we save for dinner time with the fam, not the school bus.). My point is: you don’t like people with different interests. Sure you may vary in sex, race, origin, and even occupation but let’s be honest, the future brokers of the world aren’t bonding with the gallery curators and freelance writers. The guy who sells narcotics isn’t going to brunch with the evangelical Christians unless it’s one of those news story type things. We all like to talk about things that we’re interested in (crazy right?). If you aren’t interested in the same things then you just won’t be friends. Sure, alcohol helps solve this problem and bring the nations of the world together, but when the day breaks you’re not going to want to talk about the alcoholism of Fitzgerald and I’m not going to want to talk about the accounting firms that you’re trying to get a job at or the inaccuracies in the movie Boiler Room.
You’re Dialogue Wasn’t Written by the Same Guy: You’re mad at me now because I just stereotyped and generalized a large group of people, actually, all the people. You’re going to shout “What about sense of humor? Laughter’s what brings the world together,” you are correct. You are also an idiot. We all like to laugh and when cynical people get together they bond, sarcastic people: bonding, light-hearted people: hella bonding. What you don’t see in life is a perfect mixture of all types of humor with one overall voice. That’s because tv and movies have a limited amount of writers that work to fit a certain type of humor seamlessly in between each character. If you managed to somehow group together a superfriends style outfit of different people; the chances of you rapid-firing quips that everyone gets without pause is pretty slim. For the most part you’re going to get a few awkward silences, a couple of hmm’s, and then a chuckle. Of course you could pre-write convo’s but that’s a lot of work and your hypothetical kindergarten teacher friend is going to fuck up the delivery.
It’s Impossible to Keep Track of That Many People: Let’s say that against all odds you’ve compiled an all-star team of funny, different, and intelligent people. You have unbridled chemistry and everyone loves everyone. I want you to call the group up and see how often you can bring them all together at the random local coffee/bar/gallery/party/goat sacrifice. Chances are you might, on a good night, pull 2/3’s. In the actual world we all have jobs and commitments, side projects, family, and a barrage of other things that make maintaining one friendship hard enough. Some of us are jobless and squatting, which makes the whole meet up thing possible, but let’s be honest: Portlandia is a sketch comedy show because nobody is going to watch your commune make jokes for more than 5 minutes at a time.
On Again Off Again Relationships Aren’t Cute, They’re Hell: Most shows start out with two of the friends from the friend group of friendly friends being attracted to each other. They’ll float this romance for a season and a half of impossibly complex situations before eventually they realize that they were born to be together. In movies this works great because you can just cut it off right there. In TV shows they just have the characters break up and get back together for a while till it’s time to end the show in a dramatic moment of emotional display. Cut to reality, you’ve finally bagged the person of your dreams from your friend group. You live a life of bliss for about 7 months, then realize that you would rather attempt to have sex with other private parts. You decide to break things off amicably and stay friends. Tension filled hang outs ensue and eventually you would rather not deal with it. You talk to your friends about each other and date a few other people before you realize that you were just confused and really truly utterly in love. Then you have the conversation about how many people you slept with during the break. Then you get jealous and break up. Lather, rinse, repeat. This will go on forever until you find someone else and decide to move to Denver. You mention the other for a little bit, and eventually forget about them. Until you look them up on Facebook five years later.
It’s Hard To Stay Friends: The truth is that friend groups aren’t cohesive things. You don’t have to pay new people each time they enter your friend group the same way you would have to pay new actors. Every little while new people will come in and replace people who left and eventually the cells that comprised your group will have switched out so many times that it’s an entirely new cast. Think of it as a little less like Friends and a little more like The Misfits (the band, not the show composed of a random group of friends).You’re stuck with your boring friend group of fluctuating people with common histories and inside jokes. Don’t sit there and hope to find that crazy group of mismatched comedic geniuses because it’s not gonna happen. Your best bet is just doing drugs and living the Trainspotting/ Drugstore Cowboy life.
– Cameron Patton