The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: Sometimes Nothing Beats Some Old Friends

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageI originally wrote this piece in the Summer of 2009, and yet one year later guess what is once again flickering across my screen? That’s right, Friends are with me this summer as well.
The new introduction should read (original intro in Italics): “Sure, Royal Pains is dully moving along in its meaningless, colorful routine, Mad Men started its fourth season and we saw Bill possibly becoming human (well, technically, we saw him resist the sunlight a bit longer than usual), but deep down I am already looking forward to the return of all “my” shows this fall.
(The exception here are True Blood and Mad Men. Those could be on year-round if you ask me.)

I have been going on and on about the summer shows, mostly because, well, it’s summer and they’re airing, but this week, I want to depart from the subject. Sure, Royal Pains came to an unsatisfactory cliffhanger conclusion, Mad Men started its third season and we saw Eric fly (well, technically, we saw him jump into the air), but deep down I am already looking forward to the return of all “my” shows this fall.
(The exception here is
True Blood. That could be on year-round if you ask me.)

So the thrill of the new has worn off and I long for something familiar on my TV screen again. It’s times like these when I am very likely to revisit some of my favorite shows on DVD. Besides the continuous cycle of House on my TV to lull me to sleep every night (something about the presence of that cast in my room calms me down), there is one other show in particular I dig out all the time: Friends.

I know many people have soured on this show over the years, because it became such a hyped phenomenon and therefore “uncool”. But I have always liked that show. Season Ten wasn’t stellar and I was always annoyed with the Ross-Rachel storyline, but overall Friends was good television for a while there.

The genre of the typical sitcom with canned laughter and all isn’t faring too well these days compared to its heyday in the 90s, but there are still a few shows out there sticking to the formula. There’s something to be said for familiarity. A show doesn’t always have to blow your mind and make you think and broaden your horizons. Sometimes all you want is to curl up in bed, eat brownies and be comforted by what happens on your TV screen, see some people you like, have some laughs and then go to sleep with a happy sigh. That’s what Friends does for me.

There’s so many scenes from the show I remember fondly, as if, well, they had really happened to friends of mine. Who could forget Chandler sitting in the canoe (after him and Joey had been robbed) with the chick in his arms (animal, not girl) and one of Joey’s conquests asking “What about the duck?” (which was waddling around on the carpet) and then Chandler’s awesome line “Oh, the duck can swim”?

Who could forget the furniture moving scene, in which Ross famously yelled out “PIVOT!”?

Who could forget Monica’s eleven towel categories? Or the holiday armadillo?

Who could forget Phoebe’s explanation why she doesn’t believe in gravity? (“Lately I get the feeling that I’m not so much being pulled down as I am being pushed.”)

ImageI still fondly remember the first time I saw that Halloween episode, in which Monica gets Chandler a pink bunny costume (“If you have the choice between pink bunny and no costume at all, always pick NO COSTUME AT ALL!”) and Ross dressed up as Sputnik.
This is also the episode that made me understand what Tony meant back in the day when he said “I am jealous you get to watch (random pop-culture movie) for the first time.” Nothing compares to that first viewing of something awesome. I was literally in tears the first time I saw Chandler walk out in that bunny costume.

Friends wasn’t stellar television and it wasn’t meant to be. These six characters were just meant to be companions in our everyday life, they were meant to be our (virtual) friends. I sure hope they weren’t your only friends though, because as much as it’s great that Chandler can’t argue with you, Monica also can’t make you a chocolate milkshake with a funny straw to cheer you up when you are sad.

Every now and then a show just gets the mixture of characters right for a whole lot of people. (There has to be a reason so many people liked Friends that a commercial in its final episode cost more than a commercial during the Superbowl that year.) The surveys of the time said that Rachel was the favorite Friend. I never understood that. She was fairly shallow (although she grew up a bit), very ditsy (never recovered from that) and quite the flip-flopper when it came to making up her mind. I think her hair got her by, or to be more precise, it got Jennifer Aniston by. Look at her, she’s still around way more than the rest of the gang. And why exactly is that?

My favorite Friend was always Chandler because he made me laugh the most and he seemed the most human. Partly also BECAUSE Matthew Perry gained some weight during the run of the show, instead of staying eternally thin. Chandler had a mouth that got him in trouble (as do I), he broke up with women for the stupidest of reasons (as do I with men), he had a boring job but dreamed of being an artist (as do I) and he was a loyal friend to the moronic yet lovable Joey. Those two in combination just cracked me up. And no other comedy show has ever surpassed the amount of laughter they brought me.

So here’s a toast to old Friends!

Image[Chandler and Joey are sitting at the bar in their apartment, in their bathrobes, eating cereal.]

JOEY: Man this is weird. You ever realize Captain Crunch’s eyebrows are actually on his hat?

CHANDLER: That’s what’s weird? Joey, the man’s been captain of a cereal for the last 40 years.

[Joey finishes his cereal, licks his spoon, and puts it back in the silverware drawer.]

CHANDLER: Waaa-aaah.

JOEY: What?

CHANDLER: The spoon. You licked and-and you put. You licked and you put.

JOEY: Yeah, so.

CHANDLER: Well don’t you see how gross that is? I mean that’s like you using my toothbrush. [Joey gets a sheepish look] You used my toothbrush?

JOEY: Well, that was only ’cause I used the red one to unclog the drain.

CHANDLER: Mine is the red one! Oh God. Can open, worms everywhere.

JOEY: Hey, why can’t we use the same toothbrush, but we can use the same soap?

CHANDLER: Because soap is soap. It’s self-cleaning.

JOEY: Alright, well next time you take a shower, think about the last thing I wash and the first thing you wash.




Recommended Collisions with your Television

(combine at will, all times EST, only new programming listed)


Tuesday, August 3rd
 8 p.m.  Pretty Little Liars (ABCFam)
 9 p.m.  
 10 p.m.  Law & Order: Criminal Intent (USA)
Wednesday, August 4th
 8 p.m.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
 9 p.m.  
 10 p.m.  Hot In Cleveland (TVLand)
   In Plain Sight (USA)
Thursday, August 5th  
 8 p.m.
 9 p.m.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
   Rookie Blue (ABC)
   Burn Notice (USA)
 10 p.m.  Royal Pains (USA)
   Boston Med (ABC)
Friday, August 6th
 8 p.m.  Friday Night Lights (NBC)
 9 p.m.  
 10 p.m.  Party Down (Starz)
   Miami Medical (CBS)
   Merlin (SyFy)
Saturday, August 7th
 8 p.m.
 Persons Unknown (NBC)
Sunday, August 8th
 9 p.m.  True Blood (HBO)
   Scoundrels (ABC)
   The Tudors (SHowtime)
 10 p.m.  Army Wives (Lifetime)
   The Gates (ABC)
   Hung (HBO)
   Leverage (TNT)
 10:30 p.m.  Entourage (HBO)
Monday, August 9th
 8 p.m.  Lie to Me (Fox)
 9 p.m.  The Good Guys (Fox)
   Huge (ABCFam)
 10 p.m.