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How Did Friends Impact American Culture?

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Rebecca Berlin

on 28 June 2015

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Transcript of How Did Friends Impact American Culture?

How Did
Friends Impact American Culture?

Presentation By: Rebecca Berlin
Background Information
Friends
is a popular American
sitcom
that aired on NBC from September 22nd, 1994, to May 6th, 2004. The hit show lasted ten years, spanning two decades, creating a significant impact on American culture, which can continuously be seen today through elements including language, music, and style. It is fascinating to explore how a simple TV sitcom can inspire such changes in its audience's lives by creating slang phrases, bizarre songs, and iconic hairstyles.
Sitcom
Abbreviation of Situational Comedy
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sitcom is a show that is on television regularly and that is about a group of characters who are involved in different funny situations.
Unlike other sitcom hits such as
The Cosby Show
or
Seinfeld
,
Friends
did not feature a renowned comedian. In fact, most of the cast was relatively unknown at the time, which could very well be what made this compilation of individuals into something phenomenal. All six actors created a solid bond and formed an incredible chemistry that made them fun to watch. Instead of focusing on teaching the audience a lesson as in many popular sitcoms of the time such as
Full House
,
Friends
instead focused on realism. People everywhere found themselves resonating with
Joey
, the girl-crazy struggling actor,
Ross
, the dorky hopeless romantic,
Chandler
, the king of sarcasm,
Monica
, the neat freak,
Pheobe
, the sweet ditz, and
Rachel
, the selfish yet lovable one who seemed to bring everything together. The relatable cast of
Friends
helped captivate an audience consisting of a large demographic age group. The characters' love for each other is what made their audience fall in love with them.
Friends
did not have many plot or character developments throughout the series. Aside from the characters relationships, the standard successful episode simply involved a great group of friends hanging out together as much as possible. In fact, the episode titled "The One Where No One's Ready" was entirely set in Monica's apartment, proving that the great dynamic of the cast is what made them so entertaining and enjoyable to watch.
Friends
formed what we now call the "hangout comedy." For thirty minutes a week, viewers got to chill in Central Perk, the Friends' favorite hang out and watch the characters interact with each other using sarcastic comments and hilarious one-liners.
Friends
creation of the "hangout comedy" helped build the foundation for most of the modern sitcoms we enjoy today. While watching popular shows such as
The Big Bang Theory
,
Modern Family
, and
New Girl
, we continue to see how the group dynamic is everything.
How did Friends impact
Language
?

Catch- Phrases
Even years after
Friends'
last episode premiered, phrases like "We were on a break!" "How you doin'?" and "Oh. My. God." continue bring smiles to faces everywhere as viewers implement these catch-phrases in their daily lives. Watch the clip above to understand where these catch-phrases came from.
Intensifiers
A study held at the University of Toronto proved how Friends influenced the English language. They investigated the way
Friends
used intensifiers- words like "very," "really" and "so" in its dialogue. The study concluded that the intensifier "so" was used most throughout the series, leading to its increase of use in the English language.
"The Friendly Finger"
Language is not limited to the verbal language used in conversations.
Friends
fans today continue to use Ross' method of insulting others with his twist on "the finger," by banging both fists together twice. Some might not even notice that it is a Friends reference!
How Did
Friends
Impact
Music
?

It is typically unusual for a sitcom's theme song to become a hit sensation. What makes a cute, catchy 30-second intro often makes a dull, unimpressive full length song. "I'll Be There For You," the
Friends
theme song co-written by its producers David Crane and Marta Kauffman, and performed by The Rembrandts is the rare exception. As the show's popularity rose, viewers demanded a full-length version of its opening song. However, it was the radio stations who first began playing the DJ tailored song, leading it to become the #1 airplay record of the year. The Rembrandts, on the other hand, never wanted it presented as a single since they did not even compose the theme song themselves. The only way to persuade the band to make the record was by offering them the credit. In the end, "I'll Be There For You" eventually became an extra track at the end of their third album. Since they refused to release the song as a single,
Friends
fans who wanted to own a high-quality version of the song were forced to buy the band's entire album. While their album LP sold over a million copies, its success was induced by the
Friends
theme song that spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. It is truly remarkable how the opening song of
Friends
lead fans to buy a full album of a band many did not even enjoy. Funny enough, The Rembrandts felt the same way about "I'll Be There For You," which was their only hit.
The Friends Theme Song

Smelly Cat
What would
Friends
be without Smelly Cat? Pheobe Buffay's iconic silly song continues to be recognized by countless Americans today. In fact, famous singer Colbie Caillat recently surprised fans by singing the familiar Smelly Cat tune at a Central Perk pop-up shop in Manhattan.
How Did Friends Impact
Style
?
Clothing
Spanning two decades,
Friends
is an extraordinarily accurate documentation of style from the '90s to early 2000s.
Friends
portrayed exactly how New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s dressed. Whether it was Joey's turtlenecks, Monica's chic dresses or Rachel's use of denim- everyone wanted to dress like their favorite character on Friends.
"The Rachel" Haircut
People are still talking about "The Rachel" haircut, which Jennifer Aniston sported on
Friends
in earlier episodes. However, in 2011 Aniston confessed to Allure Magazine "I think it was the ugliest haircut I've ever seen." Later, she even added how her stylist, Chris McMillan was "stoned out of his mind" when he gave her what is known to be one of the most iconic haircuts of all time. The style has been copied by approximately 11 million women worldwide! It is fascinating, and even a little frightening how one TV character can inspire millions of women to transform their appearance with such a unique hairstyle. Perhaps this is the reason many women and young adults today face challenges regarding body image, as inspired by the stick-thin TV stars who presently walk on the red carpet.
Conclusion
Through its 237 episodes,
Friends
has captured the hearts of a wide variety of demographic groups. Its clever use of language has been adopted by viewers, changing the way that Americans interact with one another. The country's obsession with everything
Friends
, from the catchy music to its iconic style, is proof of the power television has, as it continues to influence the way that we live our lives. It is important to consider how today's modern programming affects us as consumers while we continue to build pop culture.
Sarcasm
The show and especially Chandler's use of sarcasm influenced the way in which real life friends began speaking to each other. Sarcasm became the default mode of communication as people picked up on their sarcastic tones. When things got deep and emotional on
Friends
, Chandler was always the one to turn things around with his witty and sarcastic transitions. Viewers were able to connect with the characters and relate to what they were going through, and being able to laugh at their problems was important. Chandler's tendency to end sentences unfinished surely influenced viewers when it came to their own speech and interactions. This video illustrates several examples of how
Friends
used sarcasm in their comedy to make their audience laugh.
Thank you for watching my presentation!
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