Life is like an episode of Friends…or your own subsumed TV show

Central Perk

Anyone who knows me well, knows what a huge fan of Friends I am. Having said that, I haven’t actually watched an episode for two or three years, or however long it is since E4 stopped showing the repeats here in the UK. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it and quoting from it, on a regular, some would say slightly obsessive, basis. I don’t mind admitting this because I know I’m not alone; it was one of those TV shows that generated a huge and loyal fan base who still lament over its passing. And find me one person who hasn’t, at least once, considered which Friends character they are most similar to, and which one they would most like to have dated (for the record, I think I am most like Monica, although I definitely have elements of Rachel and Phoebe in me, and I would most like to have dated Joey because I think he would be the most fun, and food would feature heavily on the dates which is always a bonus).

It only dawned on me in the last few days however, just how often I relate things in real life to episodes of Friends; not a week goes by where at least once I don’t think, or say (depending on who I’m with!), “Oh, that was just like on Friends, that episode where…”. I don’t think it’s necessarily surprising that I, or any of us, can relate to one or other of the characters, or indeed that we can find lots of comparisons to real life; after all, they had a mix of different character types on there, and covered a wide range of situations over the 236 episodes. What I find surprising though is just how often those comparisons come to me. Again, I know I’m not alone – not specifically with Friends, but many people find that a TV series has somehow become part of their lives, beyond just enjoying it when it’s on.

It wasn’t an immediate love affair. When Friends first started, I may have caught an episode or two from that first series, and I remember being vaguely amused/entertained, but not overly enthused, then as further series came and went, I caught more and more episodes, and enjoyed them more and more. It was probably not until the last two series that I absolutely HAD to watch every one, and after the final series ended, I inhaled every repeat that I possibly could. Every now and again, right until E4 stopped showing the daily repeats, I would occasionally catch an episode that I had never seen before, which would fill in a blank from an earlier series, and how exciting was that!

I’ve often thought I’d like to do one of those marathon weekends where I get the box set of DVDs and watch every episode back to back from the first to the last, while gorging on junk food. Oh wait, I don’t think a weekend is going to be enough…236 episodes x an average of 22 mins per episode = 5192 mins, divided by 60 = 86.5 hours, so…factoring in sleep and bathroom breaks, I’m going to need about 5 days. Anyone care to join me? Can you bring a spare fridge so that we don’t run out of drinks and snacks?

Just to clarify (in case anyone is worrying about my sanity) I think I’m making it sound more obsessive than it actually is, it’s not that my love of Friends affects my day to dayΒ functioning in life (apart from those aforementioned 5 days, where my day to day functioning clearly WOULD be affected), I just find it surprising that it so regularly pops up in my thoughts in one way or another, despite, as I mentioned, not having watched it for quite some time.

Are you a big Friends fan like me? Or is there another TV show, that you have subsumed in this way?

photo credit: Loren Javier via photopin cc

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95 responses to “Life is like an episode of Friends…or your own subsumed TV show

  1. Favorite episodes:
    – They don’t know we know they know we know.
    – Actually, it’s Miss Chanandler Bong.

    Tied for runner-up: anything with a flashback to the 80s. πŸ™‚

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    • I have a particular soft spot for the episode where Ross and his student girlfriend, whose name escapes me, go up to the mountain lodge at the same time as her dad, Bruce Willis, whose character name also escapes me, also goes up there, with Rachel – I like those kind of farcical situations.

      Rachel: Can you get me something from the car?
      Bruce Willis: Sure, what do you need?
      Rachel: Surprise me!

      But you know, there are no BAD episodes!

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  2. “I saw a homeless guy throw up…and then a dog ate it!”

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  3. One of your kind, thoughtful readers should pony-up and buy that DVD set of the entire series for you. Just a thought. I’m too new here to consider.

    Beyond that I cannot offer a clever quip, never having seen an episode. Not one! I did, however, steal their “The One About…” episode-titling convention to label my five favorite blog posts. I’m not above thievery. I *have* seen David Schwimmer in a play. He wasn’t bad. Does that count for anything?

    I was single and dating in Manhattan the same time the Seinfeld series ran. Each episode played out like a documentary for me, as I dated all the quirky women that Jerry dated (or, a close enough approximation). Reruns are like a time capsule of what I now refer to as “The Good Old Days.”

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    • What an excellent idea!

      Sure, seeing David Schwimmer in a place counts for something…just not around here.

      I never really got into Seinfeld, I much preferred Frasier, I always club those two together because I discovered them both around the same time when I lived in the states. Frasier is still on regularly in the UK, but not Seinfeld, not on any of the channels I get anyway – Frasier is more Britishy isn’t it if you know what I mean!

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  4. As far as Friends quotes, the ones I most think of are Ross Screaming “Pivot” , Joe saying “How YOU Doin'” and Phoebe saying “Oh He’s YUMMY!” Friends stays on some channel all the time here (USA) due to its popularity.

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    • Friends does stay on all the time here too I think, but only on channels that are part of packages that you pay for – I only have freeview. E4 is on freeview, and when they stopped showing Friends on there they replaced it with Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother – I do like both of those, but they’re not in the same league as Friends for me!

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  5. Nothing’s better than getting an entire series – in proper sequence.
    It’s true, art imitates life…or we recognize the connection when looking
    How much fun

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  6. I’ve watched a few, but never consistently enough to get into it. I guess my show were Seinfeld and Simpsons. I find I do more quotes from those 2 shows and find things in life to relate to a certain one of those episodes than anything else I’ve watched.

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  7. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes and they didn’t do anything for me. Can we still be friends?

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    • Absolutely we can! You don’t have to like the same things as me to be my friend you know, but if you happen to be passing during my 5 day Friends watching marathon, and I happen to drag you in and force you to watch it, all of it, and STILL it doesn’t do anything for you, then we may have to review our relationship. Until then, we’re good.

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  8. I love Friends too, and I am the most like Monica, the least like Phoebe and on occasion like Rachel. I like Joey but I would have more than likely ended up with Matthew Perry’s character whose name for some reason has escaped me right now–love his sense of humour; Ross would be a good friend. Even though I am Canadian, as is Matthew, I am obsessed with West Wing–and often ask myself WWCJD (What would C.J. do?)–I just loved her character.

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  9. I used to enjoy Friends back in the day, Vanessa… although now I hadn’t even noticed that E4 aren’t showing them any more…

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  10. Me and Nicola love Peepshow like this (apart from the last series which was terrible compared to the rest). We have watched all of them about 10 times and we would happily watch them all again now.

    I can relate to Mark whenever something go wrong, which it almost always will in someway.

    Nicola’s PhD was based on a theory we developed, Health Baseline Comparisons, we theorised that for us to understand and evaluate anything we must have a point of comparison. We explained this way beyond health even theorising that it would apply to everything in some form. Even possible being some kind of unified theory of the mind.

    And maybe we were right, as there was actually a TED conference with someone saying almost the same thing.

    Maybe the psychological bases of Comedy is comparison?

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    • Oh yes, I remember you saying something about how much you like Peep Show before. I’ve only seen two or three episodes and didn’t really get in to it, but like with most of these things, you have to watch it for a while and really get to know the characters to fall for it big time! So I would definitely give Peep show another chance, if I had the time and opportunity to watch the episodes from the beginning. Interesting about the PhD, I’d like to know more about that.

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  11. I did get quite obsessed with Spooks. Friends I liked but I don’t think I got the full blown love.

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    • Just found you in my spam box! I keep going into people’s spam boxes at the moment! I’ve never really watched Spooks, but I know a lot of people are big fans of that. Not enough time to check out all these good shows!

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      • Yes I’ve reported it to Akismet – I thought it was just me but apparently not….. Hoping it stops soon as for a few days I haven’t been able to comment on anyone’s blog except one!

        I hardly ever watch tv these days as I’m blog reading instead πŸ™‚

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        • I reported it to Akismet too, it’s so annoying when you take time to make a well crafted comment and it disappears! Not everybody checks in the spam folder either, I rarely do, it’s only because it’s happening to me at the moment that I decided to check mine!

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  12. Well i like Friends – and always admire an obsessive passion (hello you!) – but I far prefer Mad Men. My life isn’t like either tv show, thank goodness.

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  13. I want to say Elizabeth……Paul’s (Bruce Willis) daughter…….hell yes Vanessa not obsessive but well informed!!! I am still hoping I will stumble across an episode that I haven’t seen before….it’s just a dream…

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  14. I’ve seen all of the Friends episodes too and my favorite recurring line is, “We were on a break!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEn9YvJ3Gfg) One of my favorite all-time sit coms. Don’t own any of the DVD’s though!:(

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    • Yep yep! The “we were on a break” is a classic – it was one of those situations where you could see both sides and the argument was never going to be won! My favourite one from that compilation you linked to is when they’re talking about someone else, and Ross says “Well if she thought they were on a break…” Haha.

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  15. Darn, I was going to mention the “we were on a break” line. I enjoyed Friends a lot, but my favorite these days for quoting and subsuming is The Big Bang Theory. Maybe my inner geek is living vicariously through those guys….

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  16. Every once in a while, I think fondly of the Smelly Cat song. She’s brilliant. And them singing the “Big Old Butt” song to the baby. Then at the grocery store, I see a rag mag with Matthew Perry claiming his drug addiction. I knew I was drawn to his crazy talent (like Robert Downey Jr) for a reason. There is something to be said for you outing your obsession. Trying to find like souls or wanting your oddness exonerated? BTW, I was married to a comedian and they quote the same movies and TV shows forever. You are a funny gal. Don’t go changing.
    Love,
    Shalagh

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    • Funny you should mention that song because we have a guitar here, and I was thinking of making a little video clip of me doing Smelly Cat to accompany this post! Not that I can actually play the guitar, so I’d have just strummed my fingers down over all the strings randomly! It was going to take too long to sort out though and I just wanted to get the post up, so I abandoned the idea! Thanks Shalagh πŸ™‚

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      • I believe you could get your film friend to help you dub in the chords. And that people would absolutely love, even pay, to see you doing Smelly Cat! Love that. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to learn 3 chords on the guitar.
        Love,
        Shalagh

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  17. What an absolutely fun fact about you. I love it. I am a friends fan, but like you this didn’t happen at the start. It started many years later, during the reruns and my shut-in period. I am a Chandler fan. His one liners are priceless. I love the wedding, can’t you just see someone saying the wrong name – I bet that really happens.
    My favourite TV is The Gilmore Girls. I can’t get enough of that one. It’s my secret ( not so secret now you Wiley Vanessa) obsession. I know everything about it, I even quote from it. I cried when it stopped. I have all the seasons on DVD’s and nothing cheers me like popping one in. I suppose I related to it in a single mum way, but other than that we had nothing in common. I have spilled my secret to you – now I must kill you, Vanessa. Sorry about that. πŸ™‚

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    • Ha, Chandler did have some great lines! My favourite is when he was having a fight with his actress girlfriend and she says, “Why don’t you give me a call when you’ve grown up!” and he says, “Well don’t expect that to be any time soon!” That’s exactly the sort of thing I would come out with!

      I’ve never seen The Gilmore Girls, I’ve heard of it, but don’t know anything about it. Maybe I should check it out! I cried when Friends stopped, and also when Desperate Housewives stopped! When a series you adore stops, you feel like a really good friend has moved away and you know they’re never coming back, so it’s definitely a kind of mourning – speaking of which, you can’t kill me, you’d miss me too much! πŸ˜‰

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      • So true, to both the killing and the show stopping. And the missing. All around true.
        I’ve learned a lot of great lines from Chandler. You’d love Lorilie Gilmore’s one liners too.

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  18. Vanessa

    Friends is by far, hands down one of my all time favorite sitcoms. I use to watch it with my wife, and I always identified with Ross. In fact I once asked our 7 yo daughter, who was also a big fan, which character she thought I was and she said Ross, and added, “And Mommy’s like Rachel,” LOL!

    And I am sending you the complete 10 series of “Friends” from eBay, look for it – sorry I can’t help with the food πŸ™‚

    I agree with you about “Frazier” being British. πŸ™‚

    America has some great sitcoms, but you Brits are the best at it. And “Couplings” was one of the best next to “Men Behaving Badly”.

    “Couplings” is “Friends” on Viagara. This clip defines the relationship between the women and men on “Couplings”.

    Here are some quotes from the program: http://www.quotegarden.com/coupling.html

    The one episode that still determines how “I” undress was the one about “SOCK GAP”

    This was the response when one of the characters asked about undressing prior to having sex:

    “When exactly do you take your socks off?”

    “My advice is to get them off right after your shoes, and before your trousers. That’s the sock gap. Miss it, and suddenly you are a naked man in socks. No self-respecting woman would ever let a naked man in socks do the squelchy with her.”
    Coupling – Series 1 – Episode ‘Size Matters’

    Enjoy your 5 day marathon πŸ˜‰

    Jerry

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  19. And you have to see all the shows in five days, why? I warmed up to it slowly also, but getting a boxed set would make me want to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the enjoyment

    My favourite show, and I don’t know where’s it’s been hiding is SUITS, an awesome Lawyer show and it happens to be filmed in Canada. The writing is unbelievable, the comebacks snappy and tension galore. I recently found out it’s starting another (short) season July 16th.

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    • Well I’ve done the stretching out thing when it was on, now I want to do the marathon thing πŸ™‚ I just don’t tend to have 5 days in a row with nothing going on so I can’t see it being possible any time soon!

      Never watched Suits, heard of it, but never caught it. So many good shows, so little time!

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  20. We have the DVD box.. and when we first got it I sat and watched about 8 episodes a night… boy did I miss a lot of the first few series… I have probably now been through the whole box three times .. not in regular sit ins, but rather when bored with what is meant to be good TV …out comes Friends and it never disappoints…. I will probably still go through this whole box till the day I die… always gives a laugh and I can relate to all the characters and see old friends in those characters as well…

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    • It’s funny isn’t it how we can keep enjoying the same episodes again and again, and still laughing at the jokes we’ve heard before. There are some TV programmes, or films for that matter, than you really like, but don’t want to watch again, and others that you never tire of even though you can practically quote the whole thing line by line!

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  21. With streaming video I’ve found several shows that consume me and have played far too many marathons causing me to spend too much time bundled up and lathargic on the couch.

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  22. When it comes to television shows, (when I watch) I watch whatever my wife watches … and she was a big Friends fan, so I saw more than a few episodes – but I wasn’t hooked on it. In terms of the ladies, interestingly, Monica is the one who first caught my eye … but over time, it’s Rachel!

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  23. I always thought Chandler had some particularly great lines. My favorite was: “Rock. Hard place. Me.”

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  24. And now for the alternate view: I hate sitcoms totally, and have never “followed” one, although I’ve seen snippets, and occasionally one or two whole episodes of most of them. In the nostalgia department, my favorite never-miss-an-episode TV show was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Background: Buffy was the new kid in school, one day her class goes on a field trip to the zoo. Buffy is walking alone when she meets up with Cordelia (the most popular girl in school), with her entourage. Cordelia says “Look! Here comes Buffy with all her friends!” I found that uproariously funny! I like things that are funny, but sitcoms seem to me to try too hard and often flop. In the nostalgia sitcom department, I liked “Home Improvement”. In the current sitcom department, I like “Two Broke Girls” which I think is way underrated.

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    • With most of the sitcoms, you really have to watch quite a few episodes to get to know the characters well before you can really appreciate the humour. I forgot about Home Improvement, that’s where Pamela Anderson first appeared on our screens wasn’t it, after she was talent-spotted at a ball game or something! I quite like Two Broke Girls, and also New Girl.

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  25. I really enjoyed Friends. The chemistry was just right among those actors. So many funny moments…

    But the show that I always harken back to for lines or descriptions of people is Seinfeld.

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  26. I only caught the show on occasion, but I did enjoy the cache of older actors who got some extra exposure to younger audiences with their appearances, like Bruce Willis and Tom Selleck. Kathleen Turner was tremendous! πŸ™‚

    Before we were married, my husband and I bonded over “Batman: The Animated Series”, “Doctor Who” (mostly the Tom Baker years, as the new Who hadn’t yet begun), and “Spaced” – we adored “Spaced”, as it seemed to speak directly to us, geeks that we were/are. We *still* quote regularly from that last. It’s a lesser-known show, though, which probably explains why others always look at us a bit strangely when we start tossing lines back and forth! πŸ˜€

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    • Oh yes, Kathleen Turner was such a sport to take on the role of playing a man!

      Never saw Batman: The Aminated Series, I’ve always dipped in and out of Dr Who, both during those earlier years and in the newer years, and don’t think I even know what Spaced is!

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  27. Oh, you charming Brits. A “series” over here is called a “season.”

    I’ve never been much of a Friends fan (though Chandler’s Magic 8-Ball encouraged me to buy one of my own). But I do loooove a show called Parks & Recreation, which I watch with an alarming level of devotion.

    Oh, and I am a BIG fan of Fry and Laurie’s adaptation of Jeeves & Wooster. It’s both hilarious and fiercely loyal to the books. I’ve been buying up every series I can get my hands on.

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  28. ‘Friends’? – is that a TV programme? – what night of the week is it on?

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  29. I also LOVE Friends! πŸ˜€

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  30. I am a big fan. Huge. I even wrote a post about it, Why I Almost Hated Friends. The first season kinda sucked in my opinion. Now it’s the one show I love to watch and re-watch over and over again. Makes me tear up from laughing so hard.

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  31. I watched most of Friends. Seems so long ago now. I am like this with The West Wing. seemingly every situation can equate back to that programme. Worth a watch if you’ve never seen it. Quality writing from Sorkin.

    Good luck with any marathon you decide to have, dedication to watch them all πŸ™‚

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  32. Every epsiode of Friends is so ingrained in my mind that I quote it without even realizing I am quoting it.

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