‘Friends’ 25th anniversary: The iconic 90s TV show remains popular — especially in China

"Friends" gained huge followings worldwide

(CNN) — Nearly 25 years ago, Rachel Green stumbled into Central Perk, dripping wet in a wedding dress — and “Friends” was born.

Ahead of the 25-year anniversary this weekend, cast members, fans, and companies worldwide are paying tribute to the iconic decade-long television show that followed six friends through their life in New York.

Several of the starring actors posted the same group photo on Instagram, of the five arm-in-arm strolling down the street.

“Celebrating a Thursday night 25 years ago. Thank you to all of our loyal fans across the world. You’ve certainly been there for us! I love these guys!” posted Courteney Cox, who played type-A neat-freak Monica Geller.

David Schwimmer, who played paleontologist Ross Geller (aka “We were on a break!”) posted a similar message with the group photo, adding, “Big love to the other five friends.”

Matt LeBlanc, who played lovable womanizer Joey Tribbiani, posted that the show still “seems like yesterday.” Lisa Kudrow, who played eccentric musician-slash-masseuse-slash-vegetarian Phoebe Buffay, said, “We might be in different places but we are connected.”

Other cast members like Cole Sprouse, who had played Ross Geller’s son before going on to star in Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” also posed in photos commemorating the show.

Big in China

The show wasn’t just a smash hit in the United States — it gained huge followings worldwide. In China, many used the show to teach American-style English, and there’s even Central Perk replica cafes in Beijing and Shanghai.

Despite ceasing production 15 years ago, the show’s popularity has endured — a Chinese fan group has created a Friends-themed 2020 calendar. The comment section on Weibo, a Chinese social media site similar to Twitter, is full of fellow fans promising to buy the calendar once it’s released.

An anniversary hashtag is trending on Weibo, already read by more than 3.7 million visitors. People are posting the hashtag #stillthereforyou, a nod to the show’s theme song, as well as video compilations of their favorite scenes and running gags.

One user posted a series of Friends-themed photos “to show how “Friends” made us fall in love with it for so many years, and to show how the series have impacted, encouraged, guided and accompanied us in our day-to-day life.”

Even Google is taking part in the anniversary celebration — it has rolled out a special feature so that when you search the characters’ names, you get special icons and animations personalized for each one. For instance, a guitar and a smelly cat show up for Phoebe — a tribute to her most beloved and truly terrible musical number. Smelly cat, we still don’t know what they’re feeding you.

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