Friends’ pilot episode was the perfect start to the series. The sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman is celebrating its 25th anniversary with marathons, special screenings, and the famous Central Perk couch touring around the world – it's a great moment to be a Friends fan. The series’ first episode aired on September 22, 1994 on NBC and was the beginning of what would become one of the greatest TV shows of all time.
Friends followed a group of six young adults (Monica, Phoebe, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, and Ross) living in New York City and dealing with the ups and downs of adulthood in their personal, social, and professional lives. The series came to an end in 2004 after 10 seasons, a bunch of relationships, break-ups, jokes, and memorable moments. Not many shows can say they have a good – let alone perfect – pilot episode, but Friends can actually brag about the greatness of its first episode.
Known as “The Pilot” or “The One Where It All Began,” “The One Where Monica Gets A Roommate,” and “The First One,” the pilot episode of Friends did everything right to establish what the core of the series was going to be. Right from the beginning, viewers are introduced to Central Perk, one of the main settings of the series, as well as the personalities and styles of the main characters – it’s worth noting that Chandler’s family issues, along with his constant use of humor as shield, shine bright in this episode, and so does Phoebe’s weirdness. Ross’ failed marriage is also a topic introduced in the first minutes, and viewers later learn that Carol left him because she was gay. This episode also shows (and mentions) the main settings of the series: Central Perk, Monica’s apartment, and Chandler and Joey’s place right across the hall.
Rachel’s first appearance is one to be remembered: she arrives to Central Perk, unannounced, and still wearing her wedding dress from the wedding that she abandoned. Rachel is a spoiled character in serious need of a reality check, but she's also the character who most clearly demonstrates what the series will be about: the rollercoaster that is adulthood. “The Pilot” also set the basis for Ross and Rachel’s relationship, showing that Ross had always had a crush on her, and with Rachel leaving the door open for a future date. A detail that can get easily lost, but is worth noting, is that Phoebe shares her (truly dramatic) family background when Rachel can’t find the courage to cut all her credit cards, and it served as a great hook for the audience.
Friends' pilot episode not only established the main settings, characters, their personalities, and theme of the series, but it also connected with the audience because of how relatable the messiness of their lives is, even to this day. It's especially fun to go back to the first episode after all these years and notice how much the characters changed, as well as how important some of the details in this episode have become.