Hey, how you doin’?
Today’s series tip is one of my all-time favorite TV series. I can’t imagine there will be anyone reading this, who has never heard of this one. The show revolves around six friends living in Manhattan. It was one of the most popular series ever shown on TV. It brought us well known phrases like: “Oh..my..God”, “How you doin’?”, “Pivot!”, “It’s a moo point”, “You’ve been bamboozled!”, “It tastes like feet” and many, many more. Well could it BE any more obvious? This week’s series tip is: “Friends”.
Like I said “Friends” revolves around the lives of six friends in Manhattan. Let’s talk a little bit about the main characters. The first one in Monica Geller (Courtney Cox). Monica is very kind and caring, but she is also quite obsessively clean and organized, very competitive and kind of bossy. She loves to cook and works as a chef. The second one is Monica’s best friend Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston). Rachel and Monica already were best friends in high school, but they drifted apart. In the first episode Rachel leaves her fiancée at the altar and shows up at Central Perk (the coffeeshop where the friends hang out all the time) in her (soaked) wedding dress. She is looking for Monica and tells her everything (they haven’t spoken in years. Rachel calls her dad and she tells him what happened and that she is moving in with Monica. Rachel’s dad cuts her off and that’s when her new life begins. Rachel is sweet, but spoiled and sometimes very self-absorbed (her personality evolves immensely throughout the series). She is also kind of a push over. Since she was daddy’s girl, she is very spoilt and never had to work. But now her dad cut her off and she has to get a job. She becomes a (very bad) waitress at Central Perk. Then there is Ross Geller (David Schwimmer), he is Monica’s older brother and has had a crush on Rachel since they were kids. Ross was married to Carol, but they split up and divorced after Carol found out she is a lesbian. At the start of the series Ross and Carol have just broken up and Carol lives with her new girlfriend, Susan. But Carol is pregnant of Ross’ baby. Ross is a paleontologist and has a PhD. Like his sister Monica, Ross is also pretty neurotic and competitive (especially regarding Monica, remember the Geller Cup?). Ross’ best friend in Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), they’ve been close since college, where they were roommates. Chandler lives across the hall from Monica (and Rachel). He is the funny one of the group, but he also uses sarcasm as a shield. Chandler is a data analyst and he hates his job. His parents got divorced when he was a child (his mother is an erotic novelist and his father is a gay drag queen). Because of this Chandler is terrified of commitment and sort of emotionally immature. He’s extremely picky with women, unlike his other best friend and roommate Joey Tribianni (Matt LeBlanc). Joey is an Italian American actor, but he isn’t very good at it. He loves women and food (especially the meatball sub). Joey is kind and good natured, but he is not very smart; something he makes up with his charm (and his catch phrase: How you doin’?). Joey’s best female friend is Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow). They seem to understand each other like no other. Phoebe has an older twin sister, but they have a bad relationship. After her mother committed suicide and her stepfather went to jail, Phoebe became homeless and she was living on the streets at the age of 14. This has made her very street smart. Phoebe is sort of a hippie (she is a vegetarian and loves animals) and she can be very childish and is very good hearted. She is kind of odd and is very spiritual. She loves to make music (but she is not very good at it) and sometimes performs at Central Perk (where she performs songs like “Smelly Cat”, “Little black Curly Hair” and “Sticky Shoes”,)
Friends is created by David Crane and Martha Kauffman (they also produced “Veronica’s Closet” and “Jesse”). It originally aired September 22nd, 1994 on NBC and became immensely popular in a very short time. Crane and Kaufmann began developing the show late 1993 and the original title was “Insomnia Café”. Later they renamed it several times, including titles as “six of one” and “friends like us” and eventually they named it “Friends”. The series ran for 10 seasons and the series finale (aired on May 6th, 2004 was watched by approx. 52,5 million American viewers. It is regarded as one of the most popular TV shows of all time and it was nominated for and won a lot of prices (211 nominations and 69 wins, one of them being a Golden Globe).
The show had a great cultural impact; Rachel’s hairdo for instance was copied all over the world and was nicknamed “The Rachel”. Some of the catchphrases of the show became a popular part of the Western English slang and all over the world coffeehouses named Central Perk arose. Also, the theme song of the show (“I’ll be there for you”, performed by the Rembrandts) became worldwide hit.
There were a lot of famous actors and actresses that made a guest appearance in Friends. For example: Brad Pitt (as Will), Julia Roberts (as Susie), and Tom Selleck (as Richard), Bruce Willis (as Elizabeth's dad. Paul Stevens) and many, many more!
Some fun facts about Friends:
- The role of Ross was written with David Schwimmer in mind.
- Courtney Cox originally came in to audition for Rachel.
- In the first season each one of the six main cast members received $22000 per episode, in season three they received $100000 per episode and by the final season they each received $1000000000 (1 million dollars per episode).
- The big white dog in Chandler and Joey’s apartment actually belonged to Jennifer Aniston. She got it from a friend, when the show started. (“Why? Why? Why would you do that?” Lol).
- Look closely at the door of the girl’s apartment, the number changes from 5 (in the beginning) to 20. Why? Because it’s not believe worthy for an apartment on a higher floor to have the number 5.
- When Phoebe was pregnant of Frank’s triplets, Lisa Kudrow was pregnant in real life. The creators needed a pregnancy storyline, that would not end up with a baby in the group.
- The cast huddled before the filming of each episode; they did that to wish each other good luck.
- Before the airing of the pilot, the cast where taken to Vegas to have dinner in “Caesar’s Palace”. This to enjoy “their last moment of anonymity”.
- Kaufmann&Crane are also co-writers of the theme song: “I’ll be there for you”.
- After the last episode all cast members got a present: a piece of the sidewalk from outside Central Perk.
- Remember the episode “TOW No one’s ready”? It took place entirely in Rachel and Monica’s apartment, because they needed to save money and there was no money for guest stars.
- Bruce Willis guest starred in the show as Elizabeth’s dad. He did this for free and donated his fee to charity. Why? He lost a bet to Matthew Perry
- Joshua’s father was played by Matthew Perry’s father in real life.
How about the actors?
I love all of them. David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow are magnificent in their roles of Ross and Phoebe. David is a master in facial expressions and acting with his body. His acting evolves throughout the series and he manages to optimize his character and his acting, without running the risk of becoming a caricature of himself. Same goes for Lisa Kudrow. Phoebe is one of a kind and I can’t imagine anybody else in this role. She is just great. I also love Jennifer Aniston as Rachel; she is the one who made the biggest progress throughout the series. At first she was my least favorite character, but she quickly made her way up on my list. One of my favorite Rachel moments is a scene in “The One with the Proposal – Part 1” (s06e23). Rachel takes Phoebe and Joey to a charity hosted by her boss. There is a silent auction, but Joey thinks it’s a contest and that he has to guess the price of a boat… Joey becomes the highest bidder and Rachel has to make it right. It’s hilarious (“have people call you, Captain, and then when you're old, Cappy.”). Matt LeBlanc is great as the somewhat gullible, but charming Joey. He has great chemistry with the rest of the cast, especially with Phoebe and Rachel. Matt starred in his own spin-off “Joey” after “Friends”. Courtney Cox and Matthew Perry are both exquisite and also have great chemistry on screen.
Aside from the main cast, I really like Paul Rudd as Mike Hannigan (Phoebe’s boyfriend). He is just so funny and the perfect match for Phoebe. (Remember the “Crap Bag” scene?). Maggie Wheeler is great as Janice, Chandler of and on love interest. She drives him crazy, but he cannot seem to get rid of her. She really is a lot to take. Elliot Gould plays the role of Jack Geller (Ross and Monica’s dad) and he does a great job. Jennifer Saunders and Tom Conti are simply brilliant as Mr. and Mrs. Waltham. I could go on for a little while, but just take it from me: there are a lot of great actors that make an appearance in this show.
Who will like this?
I can’t imagine anyone will hate it. But if you like sitcoms you will probably like this one!
How many seasons?
“Friends” ran for 10 seasons. This makes up for a total of 236 episodes. The name of every single episode starts with the words: “The one with…”
Like I said before “Friends“ is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I own the complete series on DVD (and VHS lol), as well as all the “Best of…” DVD's I have seen every episode multiple times and I speak “Friends” fluently. Me and my friend Esther use a lot of “Friends” quotes in daily life. Sometimes I see something (for example: a Seat Altea) and a whole dialogue of the show springs to mind (“I took a shot. You’re shooting with Althea? Althea is correct! Nice shooting!”). I own a lot of “Friends” merchandise, like books and t-shirts. So all in all I guess you could say I’m a pretty big fan. I could have written a lot more about my love for the show, but I think I made myself clear. If by any chance you have never seen a single episode of “Friends”, just trust me and watch it! To speak with the words of Barney Stinson: “It’s legen…….wait for it………dary!”