Is Friends a ‘show about nothing?’

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Figure 1:  Still from Friends. Image from http,www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel/news/article/2760567/How-YOU-brewin.html

We all know Friends; it is a show that, even after 20 years, continues to entertain fans as they watch it over and over again. The antics of the six friends overs the years have gotten many of us hooked. The sitcom actually takes a lot of inspiration from Seinfeld. 

In our class we learnt that Seinfeld has been dubbed ‘a show about nothing,’ meaning of course that the show doesn’t seem to be about anything in particular but appears to be about a group of friends going about their everyday lives. Sound familiar?

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/video/2014/sep/17/friends-cafe-central-perk-new-york-video

The above link videos avid Friends fans and asked them what the show is about. The answers support the answer that Friends is ‘a show about nothing’ in particular. Friends, like Seinfeld, may seem to be sitcoms about nothing in particular but it is because of this that the show has liberty and freedom to have each episode touch on different things and address many issues. Less popular shows, ones that never made it past one season like Dads, Parents, We are Men, etc. have limited content because the show is about something and serves a purpose, and therefore there is less freedom to broaden their content. Friends, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Louie and New Girl serve as example for the opposite. They all don’t really touch on one particular topic and just follow people so each show has the freedom to explore a variety of aspects of everyday life. How I Met Your Mother is an exception because the story does have a point, but the gimmick of the show is that the story is prolonged, goes on tangents and just seems to be talking about life before the mother.

 

 

Jack Kountouris

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6 Responses to Is Friends a ‘show about nothing?’

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I have also noticed how recent shows have seemingly become about “nothing.” I think that this type of show, one without a true goal or plot-line, is the most likely to succeed because the probability of an individual being able to relate to the show and bond with the characters is higher. This is because the ability to bring in any kind of content, any scene, any predicament, is available to the producers. It only takes one episode to make a viewer feel as if they belong with a series, so by being able to tailor each episode to whatever demographic they want, the creators can reach nearly any audience, at least once, to intrigue the viewers.

    Alex Buter

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I completely agree with Alex. With no goal (or even with a far-off goal), writers have freedom to craft any number of scenarios for their characters. Even on a show like How I Met Your Mother, the writers have the freedom to write an episode about a Halloween costume or a car that only played the 500 Miles song. These episodes, like much of the show, are totally unrelated to Ted meeting the kids’ mother, but since the show is primarily about life before “Mother”, it doesn’t really matter that Ted doesn’t pursue the goal in those episodes.

    Sam Bishop

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I agree that Friends does not have the topic or theme as dominant as other sitcoms such as M*A*S*H would have, but I would argue that there is something important that is being portrayed in Friends. This series follows six friends for ten years, illustrating how friends can become more like family. While there were many changes throughout their lives, whether it be broken relationships, new jobs, having babies, or even strained relationships with their parents, the one common theme throughout the ten seasons is the closeness in these friendships. These type of relationships are important in life, which is accurately portrayed in this series.

    Jane Schaefer

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I agree with you. Friends has so many plot lines, anecdotes, and ideas going on without a main focus. I think this contributes to its relatability. I’ve watched How I Met Your Mother and can’t help but see the parallels between it and Friends. We learned that Seinfeld was a show about nothing, but it is not the one. Friends is too!

  5. Delaney Broderick says:

    I was just thinking about how Friends is similar to Seinfeld because they both don’t have a super strict plot! I think How I Met Your Mother is really similar to friends, because it’s light hearted and follows a friend group living in NYC, whereas Louis is more like Seinfeld because it’s a comedy, but also somewhat dark and less superficial than Friends or HIMYM. I think it’s hard for shows to be super specific and have a really strict plot, because after a while they run out of things to talk about and their audience is limited.
    — Delaney Broderick

  6. marymdalton says:

    Great discussion developing here! Jack — a few notes on the post: make sure this is a photo you have permission to use (credit is not enough), embed links, use shorter paragraphs, what’s with the random italics?, and use American English for the post (learned not learnt).

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