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‘Friends’ frenzy takes Madrid by storm

Thousands of fans have visited a display dedicated to the US sitcom, with tickets sold out in less than 48 hours

Visitors at the #FriendsFest exhibit.
Visitors at the #FriendsFest exhibit.CARLOS ROSILLO

Thousands of fans of the US sitcom Friends have flocked to the Casa del Lector in Madrid to see Spain’s first ever exhibit of #FriendsFest. The exhibition, organized by TV channel Comedy Central alongside a Friends episode marathon, received 4,500 visitors with the €5-tickets selling out in less than 48 hours.

The main attraction was a replica of the apartment of Monica Geller, one of the show’s six main characters. Visitors could also pose on the classic orange sofa seen in the opening titles, play Joey and Chandler’s Foosball table and put on a wedding dress to recreate the moment Ross and Rachel tied the knot in a Las Vegas chapel – all to the tune of the sitcom’s famous theme, I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts.

They were reselling tickets for as much as €150

#FriendsFest worker Luis Nieto

The exhibition went to great lengths to recreate the 1990s hit show, including innumerable details such as the lilac walls, yellow door frame, cordless telephone, view of “ugly naked guy,” and even the mugs and cookies on the round kitchen table.

Every hour, 140 people entered the exhibition to explore Monica’s apartment and fill their phones with photos bound for social media.

“Everything in the place is original, you can see the sofa is used,” said Leonor Iradier, marketing director at Comedy Central.

Indeed, even Joey’s sandwiches could be found inside the fridge, not to mention his copy of The Shining and Little Women, which he had to hide in the freezer because they upset him.

Luis Nieto, an employee at #FriendsFest in charge of taking instant photos of the visitors, was surprised by how thrilled people were to enter the 200-square-meter replica: “They come here very excited and are already familiar with every nook and cranny of the apartment,” explained Nieto. “People waiting in line have told me that they were reselling tickets for as much as €150,” he added.

Around 4,500 people attended the exhibition

“Every fan identifies with a character or with a little bit of everyone,” explained 31-year-old Jorge Muñoz, as he waited in line.

A group of 15-year-old girls dressed in Friends t-shirts, jumping from photo to photo like true groupies, agreed. “We’ve been watching it since we were little because of our parents. It’s the best show in the world and never goes out of style,” said Bárbara Baert and Marta Gamboa as they waited their turn to put on Rachel’s wedding dress.

Families with small children also descended on #FriendsFest, such as Álvaro de la Iglesia, 34, who had his baby in his arms and said he was “surprised” to see so many young people.

“It’s timeless and multi-generational,” said Edurne Zamora, 28, who thought the only thing missing from the exhibition was a replica of Central Perk, the coffee shop where the gang often met to drink coffee and chat.

The Friends frenzy reached a peak when sisters Fátima and Cristina Arenas, 20 and 19, recreated the scene where Chandler proposes to Monica in the living room. “Even if you’ve seen it 50 times and know exactly what they’re going to say, it never gets old,” the sisters explained.

It’s timeless and multi-generational Fan Edurne Zamora

“The series is part of the culture of every country, and it passes from generation to generation, exploring themes that are still relevant today and have aged well,” said Iradier. Just like the interior design of the flat: “While many apartment styles become antiquated, Monica’s decorations have survived the passing of time. It’s a very feminine space and it’s crazy how it hasn’t gone out of style.”

The Comedy Central manager recognized that they may have underestimated the popularity of the exhibition. “If there is interest in bringing it to other cities and widening the activities, the fans will be heard.”

English version by Laura Rodríguez.

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