Over the many seasons of Friends, viewers become well acquainted with the lives of the show’s central cast. Through their ups and downs, one enduring background character—hangdog, platinum blond coffee shop employee Gunther—remains a constant, nearly inscrutable presence, lingering on the periphery of scenes like a tie-wearing ghost.
ScreenPrism’s The Take has devoted 16 entire minutes toward the noble pursuit of explaining this character’s life, and now, for your viewing pleasure, it’s presented a few existentially dreadful findings in a video called “Gunther: The Cautionary Tale Of Friends.”
The entire runtime consists of viciously taking down Gunther on just about every conceivable level. Each of its sections comes with its own heading, including “The Failed Joey: Downwardly Mobile Gunther,” “The Failed Rachel: Stunted Gunther,” and, most brutal of all, “The Failed Ross: Repressed Gunther.” Through them, we see how the barista has allowed himself to sink into a numbing despondency when it comes to his career (forever working at Central Perk) and romantic prospects (his unrequited love for Rachel). Clip after clip is shown of Gunther being mocked by the show’s main characters, creepily vying for Rachel’s affection while ignoring other women, and basically just moping around as life marches on, leaving him unfulfilled and alone.
The video’s last title card, “Don’t Be Like Gunther,” is the final nail in the coffin. Poor Gunther, we are told, exists as a warning. His personality traits—apathy, cowardice, self-loathing—are all to be avoided if we want to make the most of our time on earth. To be like Gunther is to be a failure. To be like Gunther is to wallow in self-created misery.
As a new year begins, we must all take note of this. Affix a post-it note to your bathroom mirror that says “Don’t be like Gunther.” Repeat that phrase as a daily mantra if necessary. Do whatever it takes to avoid being even the tiniest bit like Gunther, a character whose existence is such an important cautionary tale that Netflix will pay millions of dollars just to remind you of it.
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