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How to Become an Expert on the TV Show "Friends"

Updated on November 15, 2012
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"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

Character
Job
Quirks
Relationship status
Ross Geller
Paleontologist
Married and divorced three times, nerdy, over pronounces words.
Ends up with Rachel
Monica Geller
Chef
Obsessive about cleanliness, Mother hen, fiercely competitive
Marries Chandler
Rachel Greene
Fashion Designer
She is flighty, flirty, fun. She doesn't much understand the world.
She ends up with Ross
Phoebe Buffet
Masseuse and musician.
Sings horribly, has a crazy past, believes in reincarnation
Marries Mike at the end of the series
Chandler Bing
No one really knows!
Funny, sarcastic, insecure, likes sweater vests.
Ends up with Monica after a trainwreck of a relationship with Janice
Joey Tribiani
Actor
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.

The beginning
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!

The middle
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).

My collection of DVD's!
My collection of DVD's! | Source

The end
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.

Character
Description
Janice
Chandler's on again off again nasal girlfriend
Gunther
The coffeehouse owner who is secretly in love with Rachel.
Richard
Monica's much older boyfriend who she breaks up with simply because he doesn't want kids.
Mike
Phoebe's eventual husband
Emily
Ross' English ex-wife
Carol and Susan
Ross' ex-wife and her new lover
Ben
Ross' son
David
Phoebe's scientist boyfriend
Estelle
Joey's crazy agent
Ursula
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.

The travels

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).

The trivia

"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.

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

show route and directions
A markerManhattan -
Manhattan, New York, NY, USA
get directions

This is where the characters lived in the show.

B markerBurbank California -
Burbank, CA, USA
get directions

This is where the show was filmed.

C markerLondon England -
London, UK
get directions

Season 4 Finale was shot here!

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:

  1. You fall asleep at work and agree to a business trip unknowingly.
  2. You play ping pong with obscene amounts of competition and aggression.
  3. You wear leather pants on a first date.
  4. You attempt to use bologna to create an unmentioned missing private part.
  5. You buy "I just rewarded myself for cutting up my credit card" boots.
  6. You think your dead grandmother has come back as a cat.

Can you guess which character belongs to each quirk?

Comments

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    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Julie! I love this! I loved the show when it was on and still get hooked every time an episode comes on. I have all the seasons on DVD plus the trivia game. My 16 year old niece and I sometimes quiz each other. She's really into watching the DVDs. Love this!

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      I never watched the show when it was "new" either, but have been watching reruns for about a year now. In fact, it's on right now as I'm typing this! Nick at Nite runs it and I think I'm almost an expert now! Fun hub, Julie!

    • Jaclyn Albanese profile image

      Jaclyn Albanese 4 years ago

      What a great layout. Voted up and funny

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I love to watch Friends since my teenage years. A great comedy romance drama to watch...Hilarious and realistic too. Voted up

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Ok, I love this Hub almost as much I love you. Seriously, Friends is my absolute favorite and now more than I probably should know and end up quoting them half the time still, lol!! So this hub article was right up my alley and then some. Totally voting this way up and sharing all over!!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I do not watch much T.V. but I have seen some episodes of Friends. (I worked nights when they came into the TV scene) I do love it and laugh hysterically when I watch it. JA is my fav:)

      Look! Thanks to you now I too - can be an expert:) LOL

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I held out for a good seventeen years on Friends, but to be fair I was 6 when the show started. However, last year when it came to Nick at Nite I got hooked watching the marathons. I think I know the answers to your quiz, so I know I'm an official Friends fan. Great hub!

    • KT Banks profile image

      KT Banks 4 years ago from Texas

      I love this hub and I'll admit, my husband and I were "Friends" fanatics. He bought me a Friends Trivia game a few years ago, but after playing a few times, no one will play with me anymore : (

      AND - I do know Chandler's job. He worked with data statistics for an IT company. At the end of the show, he was in advertising.

      I could tell you even more, but then people would probably start to worry about me, lol.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 4 years ago from Virginia

      Wow, this hub is packed with info. I never watched this show either and then my wife got me hooked. At first I was ashamed, but after each season we finished, I was ready for more! Voted up and awesome!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Great review and introduction to anyone still living under a rock who doesn't know about Friends. My friends and I (no pun intended) faithfully watched from day one.

      Your "Gaining Expert Status" section is hysterically funny when I think of where they originated from.

      Thanks for the fond reminiscing and laughs.

      Voting up