For those of us who grew up with Friends-waiting for weekly episodes to drop on regular TV- we never imagined that this would be the show to survive, no, thrive among millennials. Now, with its 25th anniversary comes Kelsey Miller’s I’ll Be There For You (Hanover Square Press, 2018), a pop-culture study on Friends.
So excited to talk to her and hear about upcoming projects!
Were you an avid reader as a child?
I was, big-time. My taste was fairly macabre as a kid. I read my share of Judy Blume, but mostly I read books about eating disorders, terminal illness, or the Holocaust. I remember one of my 5th-grade teachers called my mother because she saw me reading Maus and was concerned. I don’t really know why I was like that, but I now know I was one of many kids who were “like that.” I mentioned it in my memoir, Big Girl, and I still regularly get emails from readers saying, “ME TOO!!!”
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I hate cheese. I’m not lactose intolerant or anything — I just absolutely cannot stand it. I can actually taste when something has been next to cheese in the fridge. My close friends know about this, but I honestly try to keep it to myself as much as possible, because it does not go over well. Hating cheese is sort of like hating The Beatles.
Have you ever traveled to do research for your writing? Where did you go?
Oh yes. In fact, I just got back from a trip to St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida!), doing research for my next book. It was, as expected, completely stunning and super weird. It is a history nerd’s paradise, but it’s also very intimidating. The buildings are a mix of imperial and Soviet-era, and they’re all ENORMOUS and clearly designed to make you feel small and vulnerable. The food is glorious and the culture is fascinating, but you can also tell that life has been relentlessly hard over there for, oh, 400 years.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I used to work in film and worked as an assistant to a celebrity director. She was a lovely boss, but there are a lot of weird tasks that go into being a celebrity’s assistant. I had to figure out how to do things like ship cars across the country and book tables for 30 at a restaurant that only held 25. Once I ran an errand to a restaurant in Little Italy, picked up a container of their (apparently legendary) tomato sauce directly from the kitchen staff, and somehow figured out how to mail it to California. If you asked me to do that now, I’d probably just burst into tears worrying over the logistics. But when you’re a 23-year-old assistant, you just get it done and don’t even think about it!
In what fictional place would you most like to spend a day? What would you do?
Am I a big dork if I say Hogwarts? Oh, who cares: HOGWARTS. Anyone who’s read Harry Potter and doesn’t say Hogwarts is a liar. What wouldn’t I do?! I would spend that day flying all over the place, I’d put on the Sorting Hat and find out who I really am, I’d pace in front of the Room of Requirement thinking really hard about Beyonce or Meryl Streep just to see if they appeared. I would finally find out what Butter Beer tastes like!
Kelsey Miller is the author of the memoir, Big Girl (Grand Central Publishing, 2016) and I’ll Be There For You (Hanover Square Press, 2018) a deep dive into Friends history and lore, exploring all aspects of the show, from its unlikely origins to the societal conditions that amplified its success. She relives the show’s most powerful moments, sheds light on its sometimes dated and problematic elements, and examines the worldwide trends that Friends catalyzed, from contemporary coffee culture to the wildly popular ’90s haircut The Rachel. Taking readers behind the scenes, Miller traces the cast’s rise to fame and untangles the complex relationship between the actors and their characters. Weaving in revelatory interviews and personal stories, she investigates the role of celebrity media, world-changing events and the dawning of the digital age—all of which influenced both the series and its viewers.