Many English learners know “Friends.”
The American sitcom lasted for 10 years, from September 1994 to May 2004. Its final episode was watched by 51.1 million American viewers, and it became the most watched episode of the decade.
Many other series have come – such as Sex and the City, Prisonbreak, 24, CSI, Gossip Girl – but “Friends” remains one of the most popular sitcoms ever.
It tells the story of 6 friends living in Manhattan, New York.
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#1. Rachel = Monica’s bestfriend from childhood. Rachel moves in with Monica in Season 1. Her first job is as a waitress at the coffeehouse “Central Perk,” which is one of the main settings of the series.
#2. Monica = Ross’ sister. A perfectionist, bossy, and competitive. She will eventually have a relationship with Chandler in Season 4 and they will get married in Season 7. Works as a chef.
#3. Phoebe = A bit strange, but childlike and innocent. She likes to play music on her guitar although she sings badly. She works as a masseuse*.
*masseuse = a woman whose job is to give people massages
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#4. Joey = A simple-minded womanizer; but innocent, caring, and sincere. His favorite pickup line is “How you doin’?” He is Chandler’s longtime bestfriend and roommate. He is an actor looking for a lucky break*.
*lucky break = good chance
#5. Chandler = Sarcastic*, unlucky in relationships. Chandler will marry Monica in Season 7. He works as an executive and later as a copywriter.
*sarcastic = saying the opposite of what you mean
#6. Ross = Monica’s older brother. A nice and cheerful guy, but also clumsy and socially awkward. He has gone through 3 divorces mainly because of his constant worrying and jealousy. Rachel and Ross will be in an on-off relationship throughout the series. He works as a paleontologist*.
*paleontologist = a specialist in the study of very old bones, plants etc. that have been preserved in rock
The long popularity of the series “Friends” is due to its interesting set of characters and the exciting idea of young people living together. It shows the 6 characters sharing memorable moments with each other; like a family.
There are a lot of free transcripts on the Web that learners can download and study while watching the old episodes.
If you’re interested in learning with Friends, here’s a good site where you can get transcripts:
For example, let’s have some dialogue from Episode 1 of Season 1:
[Scene: Central Perk coffeeshop]
Monica: There's nothing to tell! He's just some guy I work with!
Joey: C'mon, you're going out with the guy! There's gotta be something wrong with him!
Chandler: All right Joey, be nice. So does he have a hump? A hump and a hairpiece?
Phoebe: Wait, does he eat chalk?
(They all stare at Phoebe, confused.)
Phoebe: Just, 'cause, I don't want her to go through what I went through with Carl- oh!
Monica: Okay, everybody relax. This is not even a date. It's just two people going out to dinner and- not having sex.
Chandler: Sounds like a date to me.
Chandler: Alright, so I'm back in high school, I'm standing in the middle of the cafeteria, and I realize I am totally naked.
All: Oh, yeah. Had that dream.
Chandler: Then I look down, and I realize there's a phone... there.
Joey: Instead of...?
Chandler: That's right.
Joey: Never had that dream.
Chandler: All of a sudden, the phone starts to ring. Now I don't know what to do, everybody starts looking at me.
Monica: And they weren't looking at you before?!
Chandler: Finally, I figure I'd better answer it, and it turns out it's my mother, which is very-very weird, because- she never calls me!
[Time Lapse, Ross has entered.]
Ross: (ashamed) Hi.
Joey: This guy says hello, I wanna kill myself.
Monica: Are you okay, sweetie?
Ross: I just feel like someone reached down my throat, grabbed my small intestine, pulled it out of my mouth and tied it around my neck...
“Friends,” like many other American TV series, is a good tool for non-native speakers to learn English. But compared with all the other series, “Friends” remains the classic choice for students.
Although the speed of the dialogue and the use of cultural references come too fast for Beginner-level learners, the words are also quite simple and clear. The situations in which the dialogues happen are very ordinary and practical, and the idiomatic expressions and natural language are helpful for students and teachers alike.
And now, the American TV network NBC has announced that they will launch a comeback season of “Friends” in 2014.
Like what the 6 characters have taught us:
All you need is friends.
How about you?
What's your favorite TV series?
What's your favorite TV series?