LONDON—When local British bobbies posted a grainy CCTV image of a suspected thief clutching a pack of beer on social media, they got more of a response than they expected. Much, much more.
Within a day the post had picked up over 100,000 comments, as Facebook users riffed on the fact that the alleged thief bears a remarkable resemblance to actor David Schwimmer, best known for his role as Ross Geller in “Friends.”
“Do you recognize this man?” said the original statement, innocently posted by Lancashire Police on Oct. 23. “We want to speak to him in relation to a theft at a Blackpool restaurant on the 20th September.”
The ensuing comments became a spontaneous homage to the long-enduring motifs, one-liners and memories of the “Friends” sitcom which was first broadcast back in 1994.
Ross’s on-off relationship with Rachel (played by Jennifer Aniston) was one of the main storylines of the 10-season show, spawning one of its most famous lines: “We were on a break.”
People on social media couldn’t resist.
One wrote: “Shouldn’t he be at work … or is he on a break?”
Broadcast decades before online streaming provided the option to “skip intro,” the show’s theme tune and lyrics were emblazoned into the minds of fans who tuned into the weekly episodes. Facebook users certainly hadn’t forgotten the lyrics.
One person commented, “So no one told you life was gunna be this way. Your jobs a joke, your broke, your stealing in UK.”
Another person wrote, “Give this poor guy a break, no-one told him life was gonna be this way.”
The title music was nominated for best Main Title Theme in 1995—one of the show’s 62 Primetime Emmy nominations.
‘David Schwimmer Was in America’
“Friends” won a total of six Emmys, including Best Comedy Series in 2002.
David Schwimmer was also nominated for his performance as Ross.
The police photo featuring Schwimmer’s apparently shady doppelganger was shared over 65 thousand times in 21 hours, with over 30,000 ‘likes’ as people recalled their favorite Ross moments.
“He’s carrying that beer all wrong,” wrote one. “He needs to pivot. Pivot! PIVOT! PI-VOTTTT!!!!!”
Another wrote, “We’re gonna LIFT the cans, and SLIDE them out of the store… LIFT… and SLIDE…”
A few social media users objected to comments, saying that the police notice had a serious purpose. Other users suggested that the massive publicity of the post would now only help catch the man in the picture.
Lancashire police responded in the spirit of the posts: “Thank you to everyone for your speedy responses. We have investigated this matter thoroughly and have confirmed that David Schwimmer was in America on this date. We’re so sorry it has to be this way.”
One fan even had a suggestion of a title for Ross’s surprise appearance on social media: “The One Where Everyone Thinks Ross is a Criminal.”