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Friends. 30 minutes of disgust.
posted by Paul on 2/28/01


When critics describe the stars of " Friends ", blurby buzzwords are usually bandied around. " Beautiful ". " Hot ". " Cool ". Well, we must all be watching a different show, because when I watch " Friends ", two words come to mind.

" Annoying " and " overrated ".

I think I'll skip over an analysis of why I find the show unfunny. The show's content, involving glib high-flyers complaining about their privileged lives and regular bouts of nookie, speaks for itself. And, needless to say, I don't find a bunch of self-satisfied, thirtysomething prima donnas trying to convince us that their loft-style apartment lifestyle is a downer...funny. Where's the comedy?

Is it in Matthew Perry's overplayed neurotic schtick?

Is it in Lisa Kudrow's transparent " I'm ditzy " act?

Can we laugh just because David Schwimmer looks like a dog?

Is there humor to be found in Matt Le Blanc being a younger Tony Danza?

Is it funny that Courtney Cox plays a bitch, or funnier that she was intellectually poisoned by David Arquette?

Jennifer Aniston plays Jennifer Aniston. Again. And we should laugh why?

There are a number of things wrong with " Friends ". I suppose that being a comedy and, with the exception of a few witty one-liners, it fails to raise the laugh meter beyond " ha " is a disadvantage. Sure, the producers will provide the studio audience with laughing gas so every time Chandler mugs for the camera, we at home will hear 500 morons convulsing. But, if you take away the obviously embellished laugh fits, you're left with a show which represents everything wrong with television sitcoms. Wooden sets; wooden characters; absolutely horrendous character traits. " Friends " would be bad enough, if it was a single entity, but its undeserved rise to mega-popularity has spawned a slew of disgusting rip-offs. Shows where we've seen Brooke Shields try to act; shows where we've seen Marty Mc Fly's mother try to find love with a dork; shows where we see dancing babies, starring " women " who weigh less than new-born babies. Need I go on? Well, let's look at some aspects of " Friends " which make it utterly puke-worthy.

1) All the characters live in downtown NYC - arguably one of the least safe cities in the States. Yet somehow, they feel safe enough to leave their apartment doors unlocked. You'd think an unlocked loft-style apartment might be very appealing to burglars and rapists. Or maybe burglars and rapists would think better of associating with these unbelievably self-indulgent freaks.

2) Whenever the " Friends " go to their favorite cafe, they always seem able to bag the sofa. Not only is it a stretch that there's one coffeehouse they'd want to frequent ( and in NYC, for God's sake ), it's also unlikely they'd get the same chairs every time - WITHOUT being stabbed in the face or shot in the buttocks.

3) That damn themesong. Now, most themes are supposed to be reflective of the theme and storylines within the show. However, that's not true at all. " The Rembrandts " warble on about " your job's a joke " and " your love-life's been away ". Except every character seems to have a cushy job. Even when they're supposed to be out of a job, they can still afford to pay the rent in a luxurious loft-style apartment in New York City. The rent prices in NYC are obscene, you must know. And since nearly every character has a date on every show, it's hard to buy the " love-life's been away " bullshit. I think most of us would settle for a new partner every two weeks. That's why it's hilarious when they get new partners. Where do they meet them? After all, we only see our loveable " friends " being sassy in their apartments and cracking one-liners in the coffeehouse.



The Characters

Ross

Ross looks nearly identical Deputy Dawg and sounds like he's over-dosing on Nyquil. Because he's on " Friends ", David Schwimmer is considered " cute ". In real life, he'd be considered a liability. Ross is the trademark " sweet " guy, which basically means he's honest and a tad dim. He once fell in love with a lesbian and had a kid, who mysteriously was written out of the storylines. Ross also worked in a zoo and grew attached to a monkey. He fell in love with Rachel and that on-again/off-again affair has somehow kept viewers hooked. Rachel dated Ross before Jennifer Aniston lost 200lbs and started sleeping with Brad Pitt. In other words, she dated Ross before Brad Pitt would look twice at her. For being the trademark dork of the show, Ross somehow manged to marry three women. His relationship with Emily, a British snob ( aren't they usually snobby in US Sitcoms? ), ended because he still had feelings for Rachel. They can't steer clear of that exhausted storyline.

Rating Schwimmer: His forays into terrible movie terrain have been a resounding failure. Egg on the face and hands on ribs, Schwimmer is just not a good actor. He has two tones of voice. Dopey and even more dopey.

Rachel

Rachel is the caring one. She gets hotter with every passing season, and her once huge jawline seems to be getting smaller - while her wage demands increase. Back when the show first started, her foppish hairstyle came to be known as " The Rachel Cut ". It was basically the same style Jon Bon Jovi wore in " Keep The Faith ". Every girl wanted " The Rachel Cut ", because, as has been proven many times before, if you say dog shit is " hot ", you can expect stupid teenagers to fight over it. Rachel married Ross in a fit of drunkeness, even though she still had deep feelings for him - pass the bucket. She's best friends with Monica, who's Ross's uppity sister. Jennifer Aniston's only purpose on the show is to play the uptight Jewish princess role. It requires her to act jittery and look concerned. She plays the same type in every acting role, and she's a better looking Bette Midler with better taste in men.

Rating Aniston: She's an engaging screen presence, and she can play sweet as well as anyone. However, she's in the same league as Angelina Jolie. I don't mean she has big lips and likes to sleep with her brother. Just that she has ZERO acting range and got her start because of who she knew. And now she'll get great parts because she's married to Brad Pitt. Nepotism in Hollywood? No way, dude!

Phoebe

Phoebe plays a guitar and is ditzy. You can laugh now. Her brother on the show is Giovanni Ribisi, and she had his kid as a favor, which is fucking disturbing on a number of levels. She wins hands-down the award for " most annoying person in television ". If there was a prison cell for irritating tv types, she'd be sharing a life sentence with Paul Reiser and Cybill Shepherd. That's disturbing because Lisa Kudrow used to appear in " Mad about You ", which is the equivalent to watching someone scrape their nails down a blackboard while someone else tugs at your armpit hair. Her role on the show is to be a bimbo. Her role in life is to be a bimbo. She's a terrible actress with an annoying face and an annoying voice. She looks like a duck, and her character is supposed to be funny because she sings little tunes about " smelly cats ". And that's about the height of it.

Smelly Cat
Smelly cat, smelly cat
What are they feeding you?
Smelly cat, smelly cat
It's not your fault
They won't take you to the vet
You're obviously not their favorite pet
You may not be a bed of roses
And you're no friend to those with noses
Smelly cat, smelly cat
What are they feeding you?
Smelly cat, smelly cat
It's not your fault


Rating Kudrow: Officially the weakest link. Her role in the show is paper-thin at best and a fucking embarrassment at worst. She's only good at playing dumb blondes, but we can only see so much of the Melanie Griffith " high-pitched pout " style of " acting ". Thumbs way down.

Joey

Joey, played by Matt Le Blanc, is the stereotypical " dozy meatball ". He's the least annoying of the five " Friends ", because he probably doesn't surround himself with quacks in his off-time. And, unlike most of the " Friends ", he can actually be considered naturally good-looking. His character shares a room with Chandler and acts in atrocious TV soaps. Ricky Martin acted in bad soaps and is now banging every male model in Milan. Joey acts in bad soaps and he gets laughed at. On nearly every show, he says " how you doin'? " in an attempt at flirtation with the opposite sex. He's funny because he's stoopid, you see.

Rating Le Blanc: Seems like a nice guy. Saying he's limited as an actor is like saying Gary Coleman is not respected. Out of all the " Friends ", he's the only one I'd like to see do well. I know someone who knew the camera operator on that show ( I'm connected! ), and it's well known that Le Blanc is the only one of the six who's not awkward, bitchy and a pain to work with. Major kudos for that.

Monica

Courtney Cox plays pernickity Monica. Monica used to date Magnum P.I, but she's currently with dickhead Chandler - the only man who makes Tom Arnold look cool, and Paul Schaefer masculine. She dated Jon Favreau in a few episodes, but ditched him because she preferred effeminate types to apes. Her character is bossy and annoying. Courtney Cox is bossy and annoying. As you can see, the actors are really stretched on this show. Monica is Ross's anally retentive, chicken-necked sister. You can see who got the good-looking genes in that particular TV family. Not only that, but their father is Elliot Gould. TV producers don't have a clue when they're casting onscreen families, do they? Courtney Cox started out the series looking pretty hot, but she currently looks like a peanut would fill her bird-like stomach. That girl looks like she should be sticking something other than Skeletor fingers down her oesophagus. Marrying David Arquette is the career equivalent of bathing with a toaster. Or appearing in a Chevy Chase movie. But, then, apart from a token " babe " appearance in " Ace Ventura " and a good showing in the " Scream " trilogy, Cox's track record is pretty abysmal. After all, she traded in Michael Keaton for an ex WCW champion. Batman dumped for the biggest laughing stock in recent wrestling history?

Rating Cox: Decent actress, but once " Friends " dies, she'll be the next patient in Betty Ford - where she'll probably marry Steve Guttenberg.


Chandler

He talks really loudly and flounders with his hands. Everyone laughs. Matthew Perry gets asked to repeat the same spiel in every single cut and paste role. Welcome to the originality that is Hollywood. When I watch Chandler prancing in front of the camera, my mind wanders to that episode of " The Simpsons " where Bart was the " I didn't do it boy ". It's the same deal here. " Whatchoo talking about? " with a cynical nineties spin. To say Perry is a one-trick-pony is like saying Warren Beatty is a little insincere. If the guy's not dosing himself up on prescription drugs, he's shooting up in some back alley. I'm sure he knows his days are numbered, because he already wears that Robert Downey Jr frown. That frown which says " this is my fame and it's fading one Thursday night at a time ". In the show, Chandler is a nervy middle class dork. He talks fast, acts sarcastic and used to date a girl with an even worse laugh than Fran Drescher ( it is possible ). He shares a room with Joey, and makes fun of his dim-witted friend. That's supposed to be funny, by the way, and sometimes is ( but not as much as the hyenas in the audience suggest ). He fell in love with Monica, because the scriptwriters couldn't think of anything else to do with him.

Rating Perry: Note to " Bing ": That flushing sound is your career. Just keep snorting and maybe you'll reach the James Dean plateau of early death. Because, as you must know, an early death guarantees you a place in history. end note If Perry died tomorrow, they'd talk about his wasted genius. If he survives his heady cocktail of drugs and executive blow-jobs, he'll be the next Scott Baio. To be honest, I don't know if Perry is still doing drugs, but I know he did at one point. And I can't resist using slurs against one-note celebrities.



The " Friends ", in all their made-over phoniness and caffeine diets, will be there for you. Just remember to pay them $200,000 every show, and watch them repeat the same tiring performances again and again. And if you want proof that a dominant ideology ( read: middle class bullshit ) exists in TV-Land, look no further than this festering pile of self-important blabber. You'll learn that: yuppie types want to get laid; enjoy the sound of their own screeching voices; and make insipid little quips about how shitty their privileged lives are. Oprah without the literary back-slaps or fat housewives.

I watch it just to criticize the smug neurotics and trite dialogue pervading my screen.

I hope I'm not alone in that regard.

Paul
paul@whatever-dude.com



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