"Friends" is finding new life in China as a web series.
A decade after Friends aired for the last time, the American sitcom is finding new life in China, as a café and as a similarly themed Web show. Beijing’s Central Perk, a replica of its fictional New York counterpart, has been so successful that its owner, Du Xin, recently opened another one in Shanghai. Du Xin goes by “Gunther” (the name of Friends’ café owner), and the waitresses are all “Rachel,” after the Jennifer Aniston character. The menu, right down to its cheesecake, is Friends-inspired. Café patrons, many of them in their 20s, say Friends conjures up a lifestyle that’s a far cry from the pressure-filled, ultra-competitive reality of today’s young Beijing, which has also become increasingly individualistic. They envy the characters’ carefree attitude toward work, relationships and sex, and their tight friendships.
Meanwhile, the lifestyles of today’s white-collar twentysomethings in China is now being portrayed in a Web sitcom called Planet Homebuddies. (Reportedly, this is the first time a Chinese media company is testing a potential TV project online.) The show was inspired by Friends—it revolves around the lives and loves of six middle-class urban characters who live and work together in one big loft—as well as the current Chinese trend zhai, similar to cocooning. Characters include a failed advertising executive, an IT specialist, a DJ and an art curator—who, unlike their parents, choose to live life on their own terms, as their own bosses, working from home. The program airs on China portals including Youku, iQiyi and SINA.