On September 22, 1994, NBC launched one of the most successful and beloved sitcoms in the history of television in Friends, the incredibly unrealistic story of attractive 20-somethings living in New York City. Seeing as the show celebrates its 20th anniversary in two weeks, people are going to be talking about it like crazy, as if it hasn’t aired on TBS and other TV stations in syndication since the moment the series finale ended on May 6, 2004. But I’m not knocking anyone who loves talking about the stories of Ross, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe (the quirky one!), Monica, and Rachel, because I still love talking about them, too. It’s just that I like to point out how awful a lot of these characters really were and that this was not a very good TV show at all.
Still, I’m in the minority when it comes to revisionist reviews of this show that tried to pretend like any human beings on Earth would have spent more than five minutes with a whiny d-bag like Ross, because the numbers never lied. People still love watching Friends in syndication, enough that Warner Bros. and Eight O’Clock Coffee are teaming up to create a “pop-up version” of Central Park in Manhattan to celebrate the Friends anniversary for an entire month. Even James Michael Tyler, the guy who played Gunther, is going to be there, because it’s not like he’s done anything else since then. Basically, this is going to be yet another huge tourist attraction that New Yorkers are going to openly loathe, and I’ll be shocked if there aren’t reports of vandalism every morning that it exists.
This is hardly the first time that someone has brought a classic TV show hangout to life for the sake of appealing to our crippling senses of nostalgia. When Netflix answered our prayers with a new season of Arrested Development, a Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana Stand was opened outside of Radio City Music Hall. Sure, Will Arnett wasn’t wearing a banana suit and I doubt the walls were lined with $250,000 in cash, but it was still wonderful to see the stand come to life. Even better than that, Universal Studios in Orlando brought the city of Springfield to life with an actual Moe’s tavern, where people can pay a ton of money to get hammered. If you’re above embarrassing yourself in a theme park, there’s also a Krusty Burger.
So while I’m sure that Friends fans are planning trips to New York City so they can wait in line for 10 hours to take their pictures on the actual orange couch from the show’s Central Perk, there are plenty of other TV series restaurants and bars that should be brought to life as well, and I’m calling on the networks and studios responsible for these following creations to make them happy immediately.
The Snakehole Lounge from Parks and Recreation
Night clubs and bars are a dime a dozen here in the real world, but Parks and Recreation‘s No. 1 party spot (with all due respect to The Bulge) was like a mirage within an already-imaginary world. How in the hell are there so many attractive people in Pawnee – the town which boasts the slogan, “First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity”? But let’s forget for a second that the people who openly shun businesses like Sue’s Salads while protesting their rights to drink gallons of soda in one sitting are magically hot once they step inside this club that is co-owned by the wonderful Donna Meagle. If someone opened a real Snakehole, we might actually get to witness this:
The Peach Pit from Beverly Hills 90210
In the same way that the real version of Central Perk will feature the guy who played Gunther standing around, being thankful that he probably gets royalty checks that would make most working actors slip on their own drool, an actual Peach Pit could easily bring back some of the familiar faces that made it the hot spot for Beverly Hills 90210’s main characters back in the 90s. If anything, we could offer the guys from Color Me Badd free food to hang out and sing “I Wanna Sex You Up,” but then we’d also have a terrible time trying to get them to go home.
Steak Me Home Tonight from Happy Endings
I’m not a huge fan of sweaty douchebags making my food, but that’s never stopped me from eating at Hooters. Dave from Happy Endings, a show that I miss more and more as each day passes, at least played on one of our favorite things in the world when he named his fictitious food truck – puns that involve awesome songs from the 80s. Steak Me Home Tonight is almost as great as the movie food trucks that Vince and I tried to get funding for all those years ago.
Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag from The Simpsons
Having an actual Moe’s bar near me is so incredibly cool, but I’m also a dude who likes to take the family out for a special meal every now and then, too. While that family usually asks me things like, “Who are you and why did you steal this minivan?” it would be great to settle them down with an order of Million Dollar Birthday Fries, accompanied by an authentic and genuine song of happiness.
Fangtasia from True Blood
One of the things that I never really got into during my coverage of True Blood – mainly because I didn’t understand it – is that the series has quite the presence in Second Life. In fact, people can buy their own version of Fangtasia and carry on the adventures of Eric Northman, Pam Swynford De Beaufort and even Sookie Stackhouse from the comfort of their own computers. That seems… antisocial. At the very least, we could open an actual Fangtasia and let people play vampire make-believe all they want while actually interacting with likeminded human beings.
The Soup Nazi’s Soup Stand from Seinfeld
I’m not trying to dump on Larry Thomas, the actor who played Seinfeld’s infamous Soup Nazi, because that dude has it made. All he has to do is show up to random events, shout, “No soup for you!” and then stand back and be worshipped while collecting paychecks. But why shouldn’t he take his eternal 15 minutes to the next level by opening his own soup restaurant? I’m not a big soup fan by any means, unless steak and pizza are soups, but even I’d be tempted to go bang on the metal cover to the soup bins just for the sake of being thrown out. It’d be a hell of a lot better than listening to “Smelly Cat” on a loop.
The Bait Shop from The O.C.
The O.C.’s token hangout was no more than a glorified version of the Peach Pit, but I can’t deny the fact that this place featured some awesome performances from some bands that would eventually hit it big. But who needs The Killers or Modest Mouse playing so-called hits when you can have a band like Peter Gallagher and the Eyebrows (at least I think that’s the name) singing a soulful love ballad for all the special ladies out there?
Elzar’s Fine Cuisine from Futurama
The Simpsons isn’t the only animated series that gave us memorable restaurants – I could mention Family Guy‘s The Clam, for example, but there’s nothing particularly fun about it – and a lot of Futurama fans would probably love to have an actual Panucci’s Pizza to order from. However, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t really like eating pizza sauce that a stray dog has been swimming in, and I’d prefer to have my food prepared by a world(s) class chef who may or may not have four arms.
Staples from 30 Rock
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! I’d love to enjoy an average meal while watching Godzila – one L for trademark reasons – take on any number of his enemies. Although, I’d be just as happy to stay at home, maybe catch a marathon of God Cop on NBC, and chow down on an endless supply of Cheesy Blasters. Why yes, that is the second time I’ve mentioned Cheesy Blasters in as many days. This is the kind of pop culture redundancy you can expect from someone who watches 30 Rock on Netflix every single day of his life.
The Max from Saved By the Bell
If today’s teenagers need anything, it’s a restaurant right next to their high schools that actively encourages them to hang out there unsupervised. But while a lot of kids are out there causing trouble, the teens at The Max were squashing their beef… by dancing. Of course, there’s a chance that a scumbag 20-something-year old like Jeff could show up and hit on high school girls, so we’d have to make sure that in addition to the magician who owns the restaurant, there’s also a school official or undercover police officer on hand at all times, and then we’ll need another person at The Max to watch that person to make sure he’s also not hitting on the high school girls. On second thought, let’s not open a real-life version of The Max. Especially not in Florida.