The paper is all about the TV Show "Friends," an American sitcom about six friends living in Manhattan, New York. We will be viewing the show's happenings, critics and fans' views on the show, its popularity, its progress, the main storyline and its implications in accordance with the religion Christianity. The sitcom is a comic sitcom that goes around the lives of these six friends and how they deal with the problems they face in their lives and the happiness they share together. It is all about loving, sharing and caring for friends and has a very positive approach towards life. This is the major concept behind the show and this is what we will be analyzing and highlighting upon in the paper.
"Friends" is a comic sitcom which first aired on National Broadcasting Company (NBC) on September 22nd, 1994. This hilarious show, created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, is a product of Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. The story of the series revolves around a group of friends, namely Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), Ross Geller (David Schiwmmer), Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) and Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), and their life at the city New York[footnoteRef:1]. [1: FRIENDS WIKI, "Friends," wikia.com. http://friends.wikia.com/wiki/Friends (accessed August 27, 2012)]
The idea of the series originally belonged to Crane and Kauffman who presented it to Bright under the name of Insomnia Cafe in November/December 1993. After the idea was revised and scripts rewritten along with the name of the series, which was changed to 'Friends Like Us', the series was finally named "FRIENDS." The series was filmed in Warner Bros. Studios and was a major hit after its first episode aired on NBC. The ten seasons of this series were sensational and a combination of amusing, emotional and life changing stories of the six friends. The success of the series was of such extent that the finale of the series (236th episode), which was promoted by NBC and aired on May 6th, 2004, was watched by around 52.5million Americans, thus making it the fourth most watched series finale in the Television history and the most watched episode of the decade (Friends Wiki).
Apart from the success in terms of viewership, Friends reaped the rewards of putting forward a great comedy in the form of various awards and nominees that the series won. The series have had 55 Emmy Awards Nominations including six nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series, which the show won in 2004. It won the People's Choice Award for the first season for Favorite New Comedy Series and won three more awards in three years thereafter as Favorite Comedy Series including in 2002. The cast won Screen Actors Guild Award in 1996 for Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a comedy series. Also the series has been nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award for the category of Best Television Series (1996, 1997, 1998 and 2002)[footnoteRef:2]. [2: Calif Burbank, "Synopsis of Friends TV Show," HollywoodJesus.com (May 11, 2004), http://hollywoodjesus.com/friends.htm (accessed August 27, 2012).]
The series was consistently ranked among the top ten final primetime ratings. Critics regarded the show as one of the finest shows in the Television history, among which TV Guide ranked the show No. 21 on its list of "The 50 greatest TV shows of all time." The episode of the series "The One with the Prom Video" was ranked as No. 100 on "TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time." The cultural impact of the series was highly strong, which could be judged by the fact that The Central Perk coffee house, which was the main attraction of the series as this was the place where the six friends hanged out all the time, has been imitated at various places throughout the world. Due to the series' huge success, a spin-off series "Joey" was aired right after the finale, starring Matt LeBlanc as Joey (Burbank 2004).
The show had seen an immense magnitude of success and the six stars starring as the six friends were fortunate to be casted for this show owing to the popularity they gained as these characters, especially Matt LeBlanc whose performance as Joey made all of America fall in love with Joey and his innocent humor. Each character adds on to the series in one way or another. Joey Tribbiani is a struggling actor who becomes famous when he begins working in a hit TV show 'Days of Our Lives' as Doctor Drake Ramoray and a food lover many at times displayed by his dialogue 'Joey doesn't share food!' Phoebe Buffay is an unusual and eternally optimistic folk singer and a masseuse. Chandler Bing is a dry witted executive in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration for a large multi-national corporation who quits his job and becomes a junior copywriter at an advertising agency in season nine. Monica Geller is the mother hen or chief of the group and a chef. She is known for her perfectionism, competitiveness and obsession towards cleanliness and orderliness and later marries Chandler. Ross Geller is the older brother of Monica and a paleontologist who has been divorced three times. Rachel Green is a fashion fanatic with a rich father who vouches for her until she runs away from her wedding with Barry. She is Monica's High School friend and later falls into a relationship with Ross (Burbank 2004).
Crux of the Series
The show, though comical, deals with all kinds of situations that these six friends go through. It deals with death, divorce, job loss and relationship problems in an entertaining and attention grabbing way. It is mainly a dialogue and situation driven show with humor serving as the main attraction keeping the audience on their tip toes for knowing what will happen next. The show continuously goes on with different situations turning up for the friends to deal with in almost every episode. Many at times, the situations put the friends into conflict with each other like Ross and Rachel's break up when Ross cheats on her, or Joey and Chandler's argument on Chandler making out with Joey's girlfriend. However, at times the conflicts were portrayed in a humorous way like Rachel convincing Ross' girlfriend to shave her head telling her that Ross likes her that way and Ross' divorce with his first wife since she realized she was a lesbian and she thus left him for another woman[footnoteRef:3]. [3: Maggie Hammond, "Critical Analysis of Friends." Maggie.jp (2000). http://maggie.jp/PhillipsMaggieFriends.pdf, (accessed August 27, 2012).]
The show is full of such situations bringing conflicts among these six friends and how every time they manage to surpass these situations and workout their problems helping them become friends again. This is the major crux of this show. It exhibits this positive message, a message telling us the worth of friends, how important they are and how they can never be abandoned since they are a part of our life and dearly loved by us. Thus the idea the show reflects is that no matter what happens, friends can never be left as friendship is a bond of love that gives one a feeling of belonging and love and the fact that one is not alone. The series was an embodiment of the bond of friendship and how these six friends work out their problems to remain in this bond.
Popularity and Viewership
Friends has been said to be one of the greatest comic sitcoms of all time. However, we base our analysis on facts and the facts that we will be considering here are the popularity and viewership of the show. The series finale alone, of 66 minutes, was able to attract the audience of about 52.5 million (43%), which made Friends viewership fourth highest which could not surpass the viewership of series finales of M*A*S*H (106million), Cheers (80.4million) and Seinfeld (76.3million). Super Bowl XXXVIII was the only series finale after Friends that had beaten this record viewership. Although the episode had an extremely high viewership, it still wasn't the most watched episode of Friends, which is an honor that still remains with the Season Two episode "The One After The Superbowl" aired on January 28th, 1996, watched by 52.9million viewers (Friends Wiki).
These were the viewership statistics from U.S. The show has viewership all around the world and is highly popular in even certain developing countries like India and Pakistan. In Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, the series has earned popularity to the extreme and this is thus shown from the statistics of viewership of the show in these countries. In Australia, the show remained consistently ranked among the top ten most watched shows. The show was first aired in Australia in 1996 on the Seven Network. The viewership ratings were being calculated by Nielsen Media Research Australia for…