- Friends can also refer to Quakers or, more esoterically, a brand name of a spring loaded camming device.
Friends was a long-running American television situation comedy centered on lives of six twenty-somethings (eventually thirty-somethings) (3 male, 3 female) living in Manhattan. The program was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television for NBC in the US, first broadcast on that network and followed by other broadcast networks in numerous countries throughout the world. In the US, its first episode was aired on September 22, 1994, the last on May 6, 2004.
The cornerstone of NBC's Thursday evening Must-See TV strand during the late 90s and early 2000s, Friends became the most successful sitcom of all time in monetary terms. By the end of the series the six main cast members were each paid $1,000,000 per episode. Advertisements for the series finale, which attracted an audience of over 52 million viewers, cost $2,000,000 for a 30-second spot in the United States and CAD$190,000 in Canada. The last episode was released on DVD 5 days after its broadcast.
The show focused on the lives of a group of six friends: Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, Ross, and Phoebe. As the show begins, Rachel leaves her fiancé Barry at the altar and moves in with her childhood best friend, Monica. The pair lives across the hall from Chandler and Joey. They hang out with Monica's brother, Ross – who recently divorced his lesbian wife – and Phoebe, the "free spirit" of the bunch and Monica's old room mate. The settings for the show include Monica's apartment, Chandler and Joey's apartment and the coffee shop downstairs, "Central Perk".
Rachel was a spoiled Daddy's girl who got her first job as a waitress in the coffee shop and later becomes a personal shopper at Bloomingdale's, then a buyer for Ralph Lauren. Monica is a chef, who, for the first several seasons struggled for success, and later became head chef at a well-respected restaurant. Chandler was a data processor who eventually switches to a career in advertising. Joey was a struggling New York actor. Ross was a paleontologist who worked at a museum; in later years, he becomes a college professor. Phoebe ekes out a living as a singer-songwriter and a masseuse.
A constant story line throughout the series was the on-again/off-again romance between Ross and Rachel, and later in the series, the developing relationship between Chandler and Monica.
share a kiss (episode: The One After Ross Says Rachel)
See also: List of significant others of Friends
The show has had many well-known celebrities as guest stars, including Bruce Willis, Tom Selleck, Brad Pitt, Elle MacPherson, Reese Witherspoon, and Charlie Sheen.
See: List of guest stars on Friends
Pre-broadcast audience research
After the finale was broadcast, The Smoking Gun made available the May 27, 1994 "Program Test Report" summarizing the audience reaction to a version of what became the pilot episode. Overall reactions to the pilot were "not very favorable"; most viewers felt the show was "not very entertaining, clever, or original". The report recommended:
- Broadening the show to include some older characters
- Adding more humor
- Changing the pilot so that the audience could become more involved emotionally with the show's characters
- Toning down the sexual situations, at least at the beginning of the series
- Having Chandler talk about his dreams on a recurring basis
- Incorporating Phoebe more into the stories
- Make the coffee shop less "funky"
Friends had many running gags throughout the span of the show. Some of the most famous include:
Fat Monica: Monica, now slim and attractive, was obese as a child. She would often refer to her "fat past" and several flashbacks throughout the series allowed us to see just how she looked then.
- Gay Chandler: Chandler was often painted with the possibility of being gay, despite his determination to prove himself as the heterosexual he actually was. At Chandler's wedding to Monica, it is learned that his conception was a result of an affair in which his gay father experimented with heterosexuality.
Ross' paleontology: Ross had a habit of speaking in pseudo-scientific gibberish, and would occasionally display a below-second-grade-level knowledge of his chosen career in paleontology. One particularly good example of this was the statement, "they found a Paleozoic amphibian in the jaws of a Mesozoic mastodon — how did it get there?" Another such statement was "Australopithecus was never fully erect". This was on one level a great 'double entendre', but was also an exceptionally high-brow gag, which many viewers weren't necessarily able to recognize as humorous outside of it painting Ross as a "nerd". Regardless, his nerd talks would often send the rest of the gang into mock narcolepsy.
- Ugly Naked Guy: An obese, nude hermit who engaged in odd habits in the "privacy" of his apartment across the street from Monica's. One of the gang would often notice something going on in his apartment and cry out "eww, eww, Ugly Naked Guy is..." and would describe the usually strange act to the others, who would then crowd around the window to a chorus of "ewwwww". During a flashback in one episode, Phoebe comments to Monica, "Aww, Cute-Naked-Guy's getting a little chubby". Ugly Naked Guy sublets his apartment in Season Five, and Ross rents it to live across the street from his sister.
Joey & Chandler as a couple: One of the more frequent recurring jokes of the early episodes paralleled the interactions of Joey and Chandler to the interactions of a married couple. The gag was usually used to enhance the aforementioned "Gay Chandler" joke, but was often funny on its own. This gag even appears in the first episode of the spinoff, Joey.
- Gunther likes Rachel: When Gunther appeared in an episode it usually involved his anything-but-secret crush on Rachel.
- Ross' tendency to marry: Ross marries a total of three times throughout the course of the show, all of which end in divorce. Many gags run along the line that Ross is wont to marry any girl he hooks up with and is as equally likely to break up after marriage.
Phoebe's Music: Phoebe was often a musician at Central Perk and was known for her rather...unusual, original songs. Some include: "Jingle Bitch Screwed Me Over", "Sometimes Men Love Women, Sometimes Men Love Men...", "The Barnyard Song" in which she graphically describes farm animals being turned into meat products to a group of elementary schoolers, and her most famous, "Smelly Cat".
- Oh. My. God!: Janice's catchphrase; used as her introductory line in her later guest appearances.
- We were on a break!: A highlight of the third season was Rachel and Ross, a couple at the time, having a major fight and subsequently deciding to go on a break in their relationship. Around this point, the depressed Ross sleeps with another woman; his resulting guilt and Rachel's resulting resentment resonated for many seasons to come.
- Dr. Regina Phalange: Phoebe's alter ego, in which she regularly makes references to. In the last episode she stops Rachel's plane by getting her to ask whether the plane had something wrong with its left phalange.
- Mr. Heckles: A slighty off-kilter man who lived below Monica and Rachel's apartment and continually complained about the noise. Died during the second season.
- The character of Ursula (Phoebe's twin sister) first appeared in the sitcom Mad About You as a not-so-quick-witted waitress.
James Michael Tyler's character came into the series by accident. He can be seen as an extra throughout the first season, and when given a line in the second, the directors were adequately impressed that they created him a full-time part: Gunther. Additionally, it's been reported that Gunther got the job because he was the only extra who knew how to operate an espresso machine.
- Central Perk, the coffee shop on the show, is based on Chomondley's (pronounced Chumley's), a coffee shop/lounge in Usen Castle at Brandeis University, the alma mater of the show's creators.
Further trivia can be found in the series' IMDb entry.
In the Friends series finale, Ross and Rachel decide to get back together, shortly after Rachel almost leaves for Paris to accept a better job. Monica and Chandler's adopted children are born—they didn't realize that they were going to have twins. Phoebe and Mike decide that they want to have kids.
The 60-minute finale was named by Entertainment Tonight as the biggest US TV moment of the year 2004, and was the second highest rated show in 2004 beaten only by the Super Bowl, however it did not surpass the ratings received by season finales for M*A*S*H (106m), Cheers (80.4m) or Seinfeld (76.3m), nor was it the most watched episode of Friends—that accolade remains with the season two episode TOW After the Superbowl, which aired on January 28 1996 and drew 52.9m viewers.
Ratings by country:
- United States: 52.25m (56m peak) [Nielsen]
- Canada: 5.159m [BBM Canada ]
- United Kingdom: 8.6m (8.9m peak) [BARB]
Friends has, in some areas, made a notable contribution to language, fashion, and (to a lesser extent) women's attitudes. The use of "so" to mean "very" was not invented by any Friends writer, but it is quite arguable that the extensive use of the phrase in the series encouraged its use extensively. Also commonly said by the characters, particularly Monica, was the loud and drawn-out "I know". The series has also been noted for its impact on everyday-fashion and hair-styles–Jennifer Aniston, in particular, had her hair-style copied by many women. Along with this, Joey Tribbiani's catchphrase, "How you doin'?" has become a popular part of American slang, often used as a pick-up line or when greeting friends.
Joey premiered September 9, 2004 on NBC. It centers around the Friends character, actor Joey Tribbiani, still played by LeBlanc. Past Friends cast members are expected to have cameo appearances on the show from time to time, though as of April 7 2005, none have.
- "Tribbiani in this comedy spin-off that continues the beloved Friends tradition. Joey, an aspiring actor, is off to Los Angeles to pursue his dream and begin a new chapter in his life. In this new town he's sure to face new challenges, both professional and personal. After reuniting with his sister, Gina, Joey moves in with his 20-year-old genius nephew, Michael, who is literally a rocket scientist. What Joey lacks in book smarts, however, he makes up for with people smarts, making him the best new friend his nephew could ask for. Cast: Matt LeBlanc, Drea deMatteo, Paulo Costanzo, Ashley Scott, Jennifer Coolidge".
- -Quoted From the NBC homepage
"Friends" in other countries
In the UK, seasons 7 to 10 were first aired on pay-tv channel E4, except for the season 10 finale which was broadcast on its sister FTA channel Channel 4 first, then aired an hour later on E4. This was the first time Channel 4 had broadcast an episode of Friends before the pay-tv channels since 1996.