How to Become an Expert on the TV Show "Friends"
"Friends" is classic television. This hit show aired for ten seasons, between 1994-2004. In that time, it won 6 Emmy awards and was nominated for over 63 awards. Over 50 million people tuned into the series finale, ranking it as one of the most popular television shows ever.
Given those statistics, it stands to reason that people should know how to become an expert on this iconic symbol of the American sitcom. Here's where I can help.
I am an expert. Though I didn't watch the show in its early years, after having my first born child, I got hooked on the reruns. For Christmas I asked for all ten seasons on DVD. Within a year I had them all. I watched episodes religiously in the afternoon and at night- it became a ritual for me in my foggy new Mom state. I craved the humor, the irony, and the energy that radiated from the show. I felt better about my mundane existence after watching Joey put on 15 shirts or Monica obsessively rearranging her living room. In an odd way, they felt like my friends.
To be an expert on "Friends" you don't need to know all the stats. You need to make Joey, Ross, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe YOUR friends. Get to know them and their lives. I'll get you started.
FRIENDS breakdown of main characters
Married and divorced three times, nerdy, over pronounces words.
Ends up with Rachel
Obsessive about cleanliness, Mother hen, fiercely competitive
She is flighty, flirty, fun. She doesn't much understand the world.
She ends up with Ross
Masseuse and musician.
Sings horribly, has a crazy past, believes in reincarnation
Marries Mike at the end of the series
No one really knows!
Funny, sarcastic, insecure, likes sweater vests.
Ends up with Monica after a trainwreck of a relationship with Janice
Womanizer, not the sharpest tack in the box
End the series still unmarried
Watch the show
It seems rather obvious but the only way to become an expert is to watch all ten seasons. Each episode is its own story, but the producers weave a lot of back story and drama throughout the years so it won't make sense (entirely) unless you start from season one.
When the series starts, they introduce five friends in a coffeehouse. Joey, Chandler, Monica, Ross, and Phoebe. Joey and Chandler are roommates, Monica and Ross are siblings, and Phoebe is their wackadoo out to lunch flower child. Ross is moaning over his recent divorce and they are trying to console him. Moments later, Rachel walks in...in a wedding dress. She gloms onto Monica, who was her old high school friend. Having left her rich finance at the altar, Rachel moves in with Monica and they eventually become best friends.
Buy the whole thing to save money!
By season five, A LOT has happened. Rachel and Ross got together, broke up, briefly got back together, and broke up again. Ross also witnessed his ex-wife giving birth to their son, he marries an English woman who turns out to be the wrong fit (because he is still in love with Rachel) and he gets divorced again. He also goes to Vegas and accidentally marries Rachel. This makes three failed marriages.
Rachel has been growing up quickly. Finally out from under her rich father, she attempts her first job as a waitress but quickly realizes that she stinks at it. She works for several stores until finally she lands a job as a buyer for Ralph Lauren.
Monica has gone through a string of boyfriends and finally hooks up with Chandler. They are secretly dating for a while until Joey finds out. Then the whole thing unravels. By the middle of the series, they are a serious couple who is planning to move in together. This means that Rachel needs to find a new roommate and Phoebe is the obvious choice.
Phoebe has had a wild ride. She finds her birth parents and her brother. She also acts a surrogate for her brother's triplets. There is no serious love in her storyline. It seems every time she finds someone, things go wrong.
Joey is a womanizing wanna be actor who goes from job to job. His storyline adds a lot of humor to the show, but there aren't any major life events for him (well except when he had to pee on Monica's leg at the beach because she got stung by a jellyfish).
Five seasons later and you won't believe what the writers packed into this show. Joey is the only one still not attached to someone. He does go through a phase with Rachel, but that doesn't work out. Don't feel bad for Joey though. His job is going well and he ends the series to go off to L.A. to be in the 'big-time'.
Ross and Rachel finally get together. They've had a baby together (in season eight after a random hook up) and the romantic tension has been present for years. She gets a job as a designer in Paris but at the last minute changes her mind. They live happily ever after.
Monica and Chandler got married. They tried to get pregnant but it didn't happen, so instead, they adopted. At the birth, they are surprised to find out that they've had twins! The series ends with them buying a house in the suburbs.
Phoebe has finally found love. After a lot of heartache, she and her beau Michael get married and live happily ever after.
Chandler's on again off again nasal girlfriend
The coffeehouse owner who is secretly in love with Rachel.
Monica's much older boyfriend who she breaks up with simply because he doesn't want kids.
Phoebe's eventual husband
Ross' English ex-wife
Carol and Susan
Ross' ex-wife and her new lover
Phoebe's scientist boyfriend
Joey's crazy agent
Phoebe's evil twin sister
Mr. and Mrs. Geller
Monica and Ross' parents. They favor Ross over Monica
Ugly Naked Guy
The guy who lives across from Monica and is always naked.
The minor characters
Aside from the fabulous six, there are lots of minor characters that come back time and time again. The show creates these relationships that are so memorable and fun. Here is a brief list of some of the funny and frequent appearances of boyfriends, girlfriends, and family members.
Most of the show takes place in Manhattan, although there are some funny detours along the way. The gang goes to a beach house in Long Island, a trip to London for Ross' marriage, Las Vegas to see Joey perform in a play, Barbadoes for a paleontology conference that Ross is speaking at, and Chandler briefly lives in Tulsa for business (this only lasts a couple of episodes).
"Friends" has influenced American culture. Despite some critical reviews from other screenwriters and producers, how many of us know the history of the phrase, "How you doin'?" Joey's famous line is part of our everyday vernacular. How about Rachel's haircut? It became so popular it was renamed "The Rachel". Even Ross' over enunciation of words was mimicked by many other television shows.
Links to some Friends Sites
Read the guides
After you've watched the show, it is time to read the guides. You'll get all sorts of behind the scenes secrets, along with storylines that fell dead and famous props, mistakes, and bloopers. A lot of these guides are no longer in print so you'll have to go searching through eBay to find the reading material you are looking for.
Of course, if books aren't your thing, then you can check out official Friends websites and blogs too.
Important locations for Friends
Friends in 3 Minutes
Gaining expert status
Becoming an expert isn't just about wearing the T-shirt. You'll know you've mastered "expert Friend status" when you:
- You fall asleep at work and agree to a business trip unknowingly.
- You play ping pong with obscene amounts of competition and aggression.
- You wear leather pants on a first date.
- You attempt to use bologna to create an unmentioned missing private part.
- You buy "I just rewarded myself for cutting up my credit card" boots.
- You think your dead grandmother has come back as a cat.
Can you guess which character belongs to each quirk?