I was recently talking to someone a lot younger than me who is a fan of the TV show “Friends.” As happens with most twenty year olds she became a fan of the show by discovering it on Netflix. She binge watched the entire series, all ten seasons, all 236 episodes, in six days. Not being a binge watcher I find it astonishing not only that she did that but that she could even do that. It’s a different world than when “Friends” started.

I caught the very first episode of “Friends” back when it debuted in 1994. I was a fan right from that first episode and watched them all as they ran over the next ten years. But it was never a show that I watched over and over in syndication like I did “The Simpsons” and “Seinfeld.” Back in the 1990s I could quote those two shows at a moment’s notice and often did. “Friends” was more of a show that I watched, enjoyed, and then forgot about. It wasn’t until the show was released on DVD that I watched them a second time. That was sometime around 2005 so it had been ten years since I saw the first couple of seasons.

After watching the series for a second time over the course of a few months a funny thing happened. It became my comfortable nostalgia show. I’ve heard the creators of “Friends” describe the show as being about that period in life where you’re young, you’ve got some free time, and your friends are your family. It’s a brief time and there is a lot of fun to be found. That rings true to me.

Since then I’ve probably watched the show four more times. It takes me a while to get through them because I only watch an episode every now and then. It must take me two years to watch the whole series. Weeks can easily go by without me watching any of them and then I can watch three or four in a week. It’s a show that can cheer me up a little if I’m feeling down. Or it can just pass the time as I’m taking a break for twenty minutes. There are plenty of other shows I can watch if I want a laugh (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, “Broad City”, and “New Girl” come to mind) but if I want some nostalgic comfort “Friends” is the show for me.

One of the times that I watched the whole series I decided to rate each individual episode. iTunes has a column for rating shows by giving them one to five stars. After I’d watch an episode I’d give a rating. It took a long time to make it through the whole series that time but eventually I did. Sometimes after I watch an episode I go back and see what I rated it. Usually I agree with my ratings but sometimes not.

The one thing that’s changed for me is that I’ve grown to like Season Ten more than I used to. It’s the weirdest season and I embrace its weirdness now more than I used to. It’s like the writers had the freedom to throw a lot of the rulebook out the window because the show was ending anyway. To me that’s epitomized by the episode where Joey thinks he can speak French. It’s so absurd. It takes the “Joey is the stupid friend” to an unbelievable extreme.

Phoebe is trying to teach Joey to speak French but he just keeps speaking gibberish that he thinks is French. No one is that stupid and unaware. It’s completely unbelievable. I used to hate the episode. It would make me wince. But somehow I did a complete turnaround on it. Now I love the episode. It’s a complete farce, breaks all the rules, and is dumb as dirt funny. It’s become the symbol of how much I like Season Ten now.

I also now like the Joey and Rachel romance from the later seasons. I used to not like those episodes much because they were so uncomfortable. Then I read one of the creators say that of course it was uncomfortable. They wanted to explore an uncomfortable episode that sometimes happens among real friends. Now I embrace the discomfort. I lean into the discomfort with the characters and appreciate it much more. It’s good stuff.

I’m writing about this because I’m just finishing up watching the series again. It’s been a couple of years and I’ve found that I’ve been watching Season Ten fairly quickly this time around. I have only the last double length episode to go and I’ll probably be feeling a little bit wistful after I watch it.

With the show being about the period in life where your friends are your family the last show is about that period coming to an end. The famous theme song has the lyric “I’ll be there for you” but we know that will no longer be true for the characters in the show. Two of the six are moving out of the city to the suburbs and as we know from the follow up show Joey moves to Los Angeles. It’s not that they aren’t friends anymore but they’ll never be as close again. Physically and emotionally. They break the promise made in the theme song. It’s a bittersweet last show.

“Friends” is my go-to nostalgia show because I was watching it during the years when I was about the same age as the characters in the show and I was also working in and hanging out in NYC. But I wonder what the show will mean to young people who are binge watching it on Netflix? Will there be any nostalgia in it for them? Is it already nostalgic to them? It was made mostly before the digital age but that wasn’t really that long ago. Is it like watching a show about a simpler time to the always connected smart phone young people of today? I don’t know.

What I do know it that sometime this weekend I’ll watch the last episode. I’ll enjoy it but it will make me a little bit sad. To blunt the sadness I’ll watch the first episode sometime soon after the last one. That’s always a weird wraparound. There is no equivalent to that in real life. If only there was but we can’t turn back time.