Friends – Everything about the TV Show

Friends in New York

The Friends series is without a doubt the best sitcom of all times. No other TV show gave us such a good feeling and that many laughs. No other TV show can be re-watched about 30 times and still not be boring. I actually know many lines by heart and I still enjoy wathing it while having breakfast on Saturday mornings. That`s how good this show was, or more precisely still is. It has aged very well, considering it has been shot in the 90s. The show`s popularity on Netflix is a testimonial to that. A whole new generation is now following the adventures of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Ross…and they are as enthusiastic as the 90s audience. That`s why I decided to write a blog post about the masterpiece of TV history.

Table of Contents

  1. Numbers
  2. Character introduction
  3. Setting
  4. Strengths / Why it was so successful
  5. Season summaries
  6. Best episodes
  7. Perception / Pop cultural meaning
  8. What it means to me / other fans
  9. Gifts & Merchandize
  10. Actors and what they do today

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All you need to know about the Friends series!

 

1. Numbers (Ratings, Awards etc.)

Ratings-wise the Friends TV Show has been one of the most succesful productions of all time. The show that was almost being named “Insomnia Cafe”, “Friends like us” and “Six of one”, ranked consistently in the TOP 10 in every season. On average between 20 and 30 million viewers were hooked to the show. Season 2 with 29.4 million viewers on average was the most successful, followed by seasons 3 and 8 with more than 24 million viewers.

The most watched episode ever was “The One after the Superbowl” with 52.9 million viewers. This one is not among my all-time favourite episodes, but with guest stars Chris Isaak, Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields and Jean Claude Van Damme I can see why it attracted so many viewers. The last Friends episode, the series finale “The Last One” came quite close with an audience of 52.5 million people.

Friends was nominated for no less than 62 Emmy Awards. It won just one of them, though. Outstanding comedy series in 2002 for season 8. Seems not enough for the best sitcom of all time, but most of the time it ran parallel to the critic`s favourite “Frasier”, which claimed most of the awards at the time.

2. Character introduction

Let me introduce you to the fantastic Friends characters, including the best Friends TV show quotes!

Rachel Karen Green (Jennifer Aniston)

“In Style – Jennifer Aniston” by Camilla Tisi is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0

Character traits: Spoiled, sweet, touchy
Trademark: A little crybaby
Best quotes:
1. Chandler gets it. Its Chandler Bing. No! I`m afraid the TV guide comes to Chanandelor Bong! Actually it`s Miss Chanandelor Bong.
2. What is Chandler Bing`s job? He`s a transpondster!
3. Hey Rach, did it bother you, when Ross flirted with other women? No, it only bothered me, when he slept with other women. Thanks!
4. What did you say? A bird just grabbed it?
5. Hey look, ugly naked guy has a naked friend. That`s our friend. It`s naked Ross!

Monica Gellar (Courtney Cox)

"Courteney Cox Hairstyles"by celebrityabc is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Character traits: Caring, pedantic
Trademark: I know!
Best quotes:
1. You were my midnight mystery kisser? You were my first kiss with Rachel? You were my first kiss ever?
2. Guys, rules are good! Rules help control the fun!
3. If anyone is allowed to leave, ot should be us. We`ve been complaining the longest!
4. I`m sorry I almost ruined your night. I`m sorry I almost made you sleep with Ross.
5. Bye Chandler, I miss you already. Phoebe nows, that`s the only expalanation for it.
6. Let go, I`m a tiny little woman!
7. Calling Doctor Bing, Doctor Bing to the bed.
8. Seven!

Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow)

“File:Lisa Kudrow.jpg”by Pruneau is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Character traits: A little crazy
Trademark: Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you?
Best quotes:
1. They dont know we know they know we know.
2. I wish I could but I dont want to.
3. You should be. I`m very bendy.
4. How`s the hair? I`m not gonna lie to you, Ross. It doesn`t look good.

Chandler Muriel Bing (Matthew Perry)

photo by Alan Light [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Character traits: Sarcastic, insecure
Trademark: Could I BE any funnier?
Best quotes:
1. Why dont you check in one of my saddlebags while I chew on a bale of hay?
2. The camera adds ten pounds. So how many cameras are actually on you?
3. No more J-Man and Channies. Ok, I gotta ask: Who calls us that?
4. So you`re old and small!
5. Nurse not a doctor. Kind of girly, isn`t it? Didn`t feel so girly during the Golf war. Aha…well, thanks for doing that for us by the way.
6. Wow, what are you gonna use it for? Games and stuff.
7. No offense, honey. But your taste is a little feminine. Oh, suddenly flowers are feminine?
8. What if Crazy Plate Lady dies? If Crazy Plate Lady…
9. 15 Yemen Road, Yemen
10. According to Chandler, what scares the bejesus out of him? Michael Flatley, Lord of the dance! The Irish jig guy? His legs flail about as if independent from his body!
11. Wow, that accident must have been terrible. You look positively ghastly!
12. But…unfortunately…my company is tranferring me overseas.
13. Why is Phoebe singing to Karl Malden?
14. Kitchen / bathroom
15. Next year it`s gonna be you, me and little Hemingway Bing. What? He`s my favourite author. Name one of his books. The firm?

Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer)

“File:David Schwimmer (director).jpg”by Evrik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Character traits: Caring, responsible, nerdy
Trademark: We were on a break! / The Divorce Force!
Best quotes:
1. Ah, you here to return these pants?
2. This cologne really is every bit as good as Giorgio.
3. I did give up a career in basketball to become a palaeontologist!
4. Shame on you! Ugly baby judging you!
5. Dude, is everything ok? You didn`t say Die Hard!
6. A palaeontologist who works out. You`re like Indiana Jones. I am like Indiana Jones! Let me just grab my coat…and my whip. Because of the Indiana Jones thing. Not because I`m into SM.
7. And when it`s summer and its hot outside, why cant I wear a tank top?
8. Hey Chandler, do you think you`ll ever work again?
9. It`s like Ross not liking ice cream. You don`t like ice cream? It`s too cold! Hurts my teeth.
10. Pivot!
11. Oh Dr. Gellar, stop it. You`re being silly.
12. I`m not a dropper. It`s really more of a three person game, you know.

Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc)

“File:Matt leblanc 1995 emmy awards.jpg”by Kimse is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Character traits: A little dumb, sweet, friendly, good buddy
Trademark: How you doin?
Best quotes:
1. How about you showering with your mom?
2. Sorry, I can`t make it. I have a date with Mona tonight. I totally understand. Who would cancel a date for a fake bachelor party? Sorry babe, I gotta cancel tonight.
3. Double promise?
4. I`m here to get my eyebrows fixed. Name? Chandler Bing.
5. Very impressive when the little people know a celebrity. Little people? Celebrity!
6. Can you believe that? Me, not a good kisser. That`s like Mother Theresa…not a good mother.
7. You`re the guy that doesn`t know how to pour milk. I actually can pour milk. But I got you believin that I couldn`t. You see, that`s acting!
8. Wanted! Female roomate, non-smoker, non ugly!
9. Oh yeah? Then how come you don`t know anything about Hugsy, my bedtime penguin pal?
10. And if I had to, I`d pee on anyone of you!
11. I don`t love Hugsy, I like him a normal amount. Well, Emma loves him. Why wouldn`t she? He`s a wonderful person.
12. You remember that sweater I gave you for your birthday? And that`s how you bought it? No, that`s what I was wearing when I donated.
13. Last night I tried to welcome you into my family, but you disrespected me. Are you rehearsing lines from a really bad mafia movie? I may be borrowing a few lines from my recent unsuccessful audition for Family Honor 2: This..a time it`s…a personal.

Side characters

Gunther Central Perk
The lovable coffee shop barista with a secret crush on Rachel.

Jack & Judy Gellar
Monica and Ross`parents that unconsciously favoured the medical marvel Ross

Richard Burke
Jack Gellar`s friend and Monica`s first serious relationship

Mike Hannigan
The lovely musician/lawyer was Phoebe`s soulmate and fits in very well. Almost felt like a 7th friend.

David the Scientist Guy
Phoebe`s first love that had to move to Minsk and later came back to fight for Phoebe.

Ursula Buffay
Phoebe`s twin sister with completely different character traits. Pretty much the opposite.

Guest stars

Many, many famous VIPs visited the Friends over the years. Here is an excerpt…

Tom Selleck, Wynona Ryder, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Bruce Willis, Freddie Prince Junior, Brad Pitt, Anna Faris, Selma Blair, Paget Brewster, Chris Isaak, Gary Oldman, Susan Sarandon, Morgan Fairchild, Kathleen Turner, Hank Azaria, Denise Richards, Gabrielle Union, Christina Applegate …

3. Setting

The building that is used as Friends Apartment in 90 Bedford Street, Greenwich Village
90 Bedford Street, Greenwich Village

There are four main locations where the adventures of our Friends take place. That would be:

Central Perk: The cosiest coffee place ever, that is supposed to be very close to the appartment building where they live. You can actually go to New York and visit the building that is being shown in the show as their place. It`s just the outside, but it`s actually a great feeling to stand there. There is even a coffee place within the buidling. I`ve been there a year ago and still don`t get, why the owners furnish this place exactly like the “Central Perk”. I believe that would be a goldmine.

Monica`s apartment: The well-known, purple-dominated apartment is probably the most used setting without the ten seasons of the show. Quite understandable, because it`s just so cosy and comfortable. Who wouldn`t want to hang out there?

Joey`s apartment: Aka Chandler and Joey`s bachelor pad. Not quite as comfortable as the one on the other side of the floor, but cult nonetheless. You could definiteley tell the difference between a boys and a girls apartment. This flat had to go through a lot. It was robbed and equipped with nothing more than a canu for a while. Chandler`s door was even split in two. Although furnished rather sparse, that never seemed to bother the ladies, that visited the bachelors a lot…ok, mostly Joey.

Ross`s apartment: Dr. Gellar had several apartments throughout the series, the first one was not noteworthy however. The one that could be seen from Monica`s window was pretty cool. Not only gave it Ross`shark attack and TV watching bits to us – it had style as well.

 

4. Strengths / Why it was so successful

So how did Friends become this popular? How is it possible that this show glued millions of viewers to the TV screens for years and 15 years later still does in syndication and on Netflix? Here are the majopr strengths of this show:

Friends is often called a “soapcom” – a sitcom with soap opera elements (I don`t mean “Days of our Lives” here). And there is a point. You really get attached to the characters due to very good character writing and long-run story arcs. You just want to know what happens in the Friends lifes and you want them to be ok.

Acting: The cast could not have been put together any better. They just have such good chemistry and they all portrait they roles extremely well. I don`t really want to put some of them above others. But if I had to, I`d say that Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer stand out from the crowd with fantastic comedic talent.

The gag frequency is riddiculously high in Friends, but not at thze expense of gag quality. For example I love “Frasier”, but it really takes its time to build up great jokes. In Friends its just non-stop funny lines.

⦁ It sure doesn`t hurt that all the actors have been pretty handsome and easy on the eye. And since they are all different types, probably every viewer out there found one of them attractive. For me it was certainly Rachel Green.

⦁ The show very nicely depicts life in 20ths of US society, or how Twenty Somethings would like there lifes to be.

Lovable / relatable characters: I repeat myself, but the writers have done a simply brilliant job. These group of Friends is just how you want the people around you to be. Sharing their lifes, talking, loving, going out, pursuing career etc., sometimes teasing and annoying each other…but in the end stick together like a family and always be there for each other. It`s all in the theme song.

The long-term story arcs had people glued to the TV. We all wanted to know, if Roos & Rachel would find together, if Chandler and Monica would work out and if Joey would finally settle down.

Romance: It wasn`t just about the humour. Many romantic moments certainly appealed to a wide audience.

Running gags: The depth of characters and the large history between them made it easy to develop very funny running gags. Good examples would be: “We were on a break!”, Ross being divorced three times or Monica being fat in highschool.

Different kinds of humor: Everyone of us appeals to different types of gags. In Friends each character provides a different one:

– Slapstick
– Sarcasm
– Weirdness
– Stupidism
– Clumsiness
– Fussy

Can you guess, which character for which type of humour?

5. Season summaries

Season 1

The very first season of Friends functions as a character introduction. The cast has to find it`s rythm and the characters are not that round and well developed, yet. The audience still has to get to know the figures. So if you ask me, Friends season 1 is the only one that hasn`t got me rolling on the floor laughing. It`s charming and provides some nice stories. But it`s not yet top notch like the following nine seasons. And that`s ok, it sets up all the following story arcs. Plus I can`t think of any sitcom peaking in season 1. Of course there are some highlights as well like Chandler trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre.

Season 2

Ross tries to forget Rachel and starts dating Julie. But now Rachel secretely wants Ross and torpedos the Ross & Julie relationship. It all climaxes in the fantastic episode “The One with the Prom video” with an amazing flashback video in it. As well as the classic line “The camera adds ten pounds! So how many cameras are actually on you” And lets not forget “Games and stuff”. Monica starts dating Richard, a much older doctor and a friend of her father`s, Chandler has some insanely funny trouble with his new roommate Eddie. Season 2 also features my all-time favourite intro in “The One with the List”, where the girls and boys seperatly describe Ross and Rachel`s first kiss. Man and women in a nutshell!

Season 3

This is where it starts to become the ultimate sitcom masterpiece. The Ross & Rachel drama storyline is just so good. Add Monica dating a millionaire plus the introduction of the chick and the duck and you`ve got an insanely high gag frequency.

Season 4

A very brief comeback of Ross & Rachel in a brillant first episode. Followed by lots of teasing each other after the break-up. Joey and Chandler`s friendship is heavily tested over a woman and Phoebe carries out her brother triplets. The season ends with a cool trip to London, where Ross is supposed to marry Emily…

Season 5

Season 5 starts in London with Ross trying to save his marriage. Apart from that it mostly revolves around Monica and Chandler trying to hide their relationship. This leads to many, many funny moments (I just say “Hugsy, the bedtime penguin pal!”). Phoebe gets a new love interest with Gary the Police officer, which is one of my favourite story lines for her. The season finale again takes place in another city…this time the Friends make a trip to Las Vegas.

Season 6

The Friends come back from Vegas with Chandler and Monica not married, but therefore Ross and Rachel are. The Divorce Force doesn`t want a third divorce, though and tries to get an annullment. Apart from that this season is mostly about Monica and Chandler getting their relationship going. Chandler moves in, leaving Joey behind very sad – since it`s the end of an era! In the end an old acquaintance of Monica`s shows up. Will he stop Chandlers planned proposal?

Season 7

Very nice season mostly revolving around Mondler planning their wedding. Joey makes a comeback on “Days of our lives” and Rachel starts dating Tag, her much younger assistant. Season 7 features some really nice and funny ideas, like Joey and Ross as nap partners, Chandlers dumb states game, Joey detecting that Rachel reads dirty books and many more.

Season 8

Starts with the wedding receiption and after some secret keeping we accompany Rachel and her Friends dealing with the pregnancy. Not much of a surprise that her mood swings are pretty entertaining. Plus THE guest appearance of all happens in season 8. Mr. Back then Mr. Aniston Brad Pitt showed up in Monica`s appartment for Thanksgiving. And one of the best episodes came out.

Season 9

The ninth season of Friends does not have that one big story arc, but many good stand alsone episodes like The One with the Male Nanny or The One with Rachels other Sister. If you want to name some arcs, it would be Ross having a crush on Joeys girlfriend Charlie and the relationship between Phoebe and Mike. I like the season finale in Barbados a lot, especially the table tennis competition. Apart from that it sets up some shifts in relationships for the next season.

Season 10

I would never have thought that such a long running show could even get better towards its ending. If you ask me, the Friends peaked in seasons 3-5 and was a little less brillant in seasons 6-9 (still amazing, though). But season 10 is right up there with some brillant episodes and of course a near perfect final, that left us fans sad but satisfied.

6. Best episodes

To find out the best Friends episodes, please check out this posting: Best Friends Episodes Ever – Friends Series Ranking

And in case you haven`t seen the Friends bloopers, yet: Do you yourself a favour, go to Youtube and check them out. They are downright hilarious!

You might also want to read: Best sitcoms ever – Ten incredibly funny TV shows

7. Perception / Pop cultural meaning

Greenwich Village in Winter

Non native English speakers learn the language pretty well.

8. What it means to me / other fans

Well, what can I say. This is more than a TV show to many, many viewers out there. It almost fels like the six characters have become real friends. I have watched every single episode countless times and know many lines by heart. And still it never gets boring. Friends was, is and always will be a very effective method to raise my spirits, when I`m down and need a laugh. Luckily all episodes are on Netflix, so I am pretty sure that I will go there and choose Friends episodes for many years to come and never ever get tired of it.

9. Friends TV Show Gifts & Merchandize

There is lots of stuff from the series that would make wonderful presents for friends, relatives and yourself. Here are my favourites among Friends  TV show merchandize:

Hugsy – Joey`s bedtime penguin pal

The cultic stuffed animal penguin that is being revealed in “The One where Everybody finds out” is a perfect gift for children. But not just for kids, even adults will like Hugsy. Ask Joey, who wouldn`t even share him with Emma, since he`s a wonderful person. You can get the Hugsy penguin on Amazon.

Monica`s cultic yellow peephole frame

Really nice gadget for your apartment, makes peeping through the door hole much more fun! In my opinion one of the best Friends TV show gifts.

A Friends Mug – Personalized

Drinking your morning coffee from a coffee mug with your name and “I`ll be there for you” in Friends font will certainly make it even more tasteful. So a coffee mug should not be missed among Friends memorabilia.

Friends Crewneck T-Shirt

Show what your favourite show is and wear a Friends shirt – an absolute eyecatcher.

Friends TV show poster

Very stylish poster with cool references to the show like “More turkey, Mr. Chandler?” or “Oh my God!”. There are even more Friends T-Shirts. Just check out Amazon.

10. Actors and what they do today

The actors behind the six main characters have done a truly amazing job and I don`think, the show would have been as good without any of these six people. They just had amazing chemistry and incredible comedic talent. But for most of them it was hard to get out of the roles that made them famous. Luckily they all made a fortune with Friends and certainly money isn`t an issue for them.

Jennifer Aniston

Ms. Aniston has certainly had the most successful career during and after Friends. She starred in countless movies. Pretty much always as the sweet girl looking for Mr. Right (in other words: Rachel Green) in Romantic Comedies. And who`s to blame, she`s just adorable!

Courtney Cox

Courtney was the only already established actor/actress before Friends started. I remember seeing her in that “He-Man – Master of the Universe”-movie and liked her already. Her most notable work outside Friends would certainly be the Scream movies. And after Friends she starred in two shows – “Dirt” and “Cougar Town”. That alone makes her by far the most successful of the cast after Friends ended – behind Aniston of course, who is inj a league of her own in that regard.

Lisa Kudrow

A few minor roles in movies and guest appearances in tv shows, “Cougar Town” among them. But that`s about it.

Matt LeBlanc

Tried to ride the Friends wave in the Spin off “Joey”. I was looking forward to it, but unfortunately it just wasn`t good enough and therefore cancelled after two seasons. Apart from that a few minor movie roles.

Matthew Perry

This incredibly talented man was unfortunately not able to maintain successful after Friends. He was in a few charming movies, like “Fools Rush In” with Salma Hayek, “The Whole Nine Yards” with Bruce Willis or “17 Again” with Zac Efron. Apart from that I only remeber seeing him starring in the most horrible sitcom I have ever seen: “The Odd Couple”. It was actually painful to see him in this and that`s not how I want to remember him. He will always be Chandler Bing!

David Schwimmer

Well, the only remarkable thing I can remember him doing after Friends was giving his voice to Melman in “Madagascar”. Apart from that he focussed on directing, made quite a few movies. But he as well was not able to maintain really successful after the sitcom superhit.

So all in all, not the best times for our beloved Friends after the show. But I think they all have made more than enough money to not depend on landing further acting jobs.

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I hope you liked this post about the Friends sitcom. You are welcome to leave a comment and share your opinion on thhe Friends series. I would be interested in finding out what your favourite is among the Friends seasons!

 

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