Leave The World Behind Friends

Leave The World Behind’s director on why Friends is such an important part of the film

All Rose wants in the apocalypse is to find out what happens to Ross and Rachel


One of the main plot points of Sam Esmail’s new Netflix film Leave The World Behind is Clay and Amanda’s daughter Rose’s obsession with finishing the end of Friends, and her frustration and anxiety that the apocalypse is preventing her from watching the last episode is arguably more stress inducing than anything end of the world-y that happens in the film. Thankfully, we’ve now got an explanation on why Friends is so important to Leave The World Behind.

As the apocalypse is well and truly kicking in, Rose speaks to her brother Charlie about the Friends frustration. “I’m never going to find out what happens to Ross and Rachel, am I?”

“What do you care so much about that show anyway?,” he claps back.

“They make me happy. I really need that right now, don’t you? If there’s any hope left in this f**ked-up world, I wanna at least find out how things turn out for them. I care about them.”

As Ruth says in the film, Friends makes us nostalgic for a time that never really was. It’s an idealistic interpretation of the turn of the millennium New York life – but one that feels like home for so many of us. I can watch so many episodes of Friends and instantly feel relaxed and content, no matter how many times I’ve watched them. The show has many critics, but one thing you can’t take away from it is how all six of those core characters end up feeling like family. It’s a sanctuary show, and it makes sense for Sam Esmail to use it as a comfort blanket motif throughout the film – a sense of normality in a world that increasingly has none. The apocalypse is overwhelming, Friends is the familiarity.

Rose in Leave The World Behind. Via Netflix

“To me, it represented pure escapism,” director Sam Esmail told Tudum.

“In moments of crisis when we’ve lost sight of our common humanity, when we feel isolated, we do want to escape to comfort. And for Rose, I thought her journey wouldn’t be complete until she watched the final episode of her favourite show. I think as much as this film is a cautionary tale and it’s meant to be a warning, it’s not meant to give us an answer as to what to do next — but it is meant to say, ‘As dark as it could get, as bleak as it can get, we can always strive to find some hope.”

I think, sadly coincidentally, in the wake of the recent passing of Matthew Perry – many of us have revisited Friends and remembered how special he is to it and how much this show means to us. It makes Esmail’s choice to highlight the show even more poignant.

Rose has the right idea in the apocalypse. I’d leave my family behind too for a bunker with Buffy on the shelf.

Leave The World Behind is streaming on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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