Cultural Analysis of the “Friends” Television Show

Introduction


The American television show “Friends” revolved around the lives of six young friends. The television show aired on NBC between 1994 and 2004 in ten seasons (Crane et. al., 1994). The television show was created in with the background of an area that frequently experienced periods of recession; as such, an average American citizen has to fail several times before winning. Producers of the television show focused on people in the mid-twenties struggling to make it life.

The target audience was young people in their mid-twenties who were aggressively tarmacking for their first job. Additionally, they were struggling after surviving in a protected environment provided in the college settings. Notably, the struggle would be made easier with a friend leading to the production of a television show illustrating the struggle underwent by young people after completing college education.


Reception


The television show gained massive popularity during the period it was aired for ten seasons. The show was one of the highest rated in the United States since it won an Emmy Awards for being the Best Comedy Series. In addition, the show was praised by critics for displaying content with the absence of any violent segments.

Over the years, Friends managed to be among the most entertaining television shows because it was a clear portrayal of the struggles of young people. In addition, it emphasized on the significance of creating and maintaining relationships. The show was able to appeal to most young people since they could relate to the realities of their lives.


Cultural Analysis of the Friends Television Show
Race


Friends Television Show did support any form of racism as all the characters were given balanced roles without favoritism and discrimination. For instance, Joey was from Spanish origin but formed an essential party of the group without being shown any element of discrimination. In addition, Emily who played a role of Ross’ second was a Briton. The cast featured in a coffee shop sitting on the same couch talking about different matters.

According to critics, the cast dominated various activities in the coffee shop without giving chances to customers or bystanders. In addition, some characters belonging to the minority groups did not seem to play important roles in the show since the director kept the whites actively involved in most scenes. The show seems to have enforced a typical white middle-class lifestyle from the beginning to the end, which may have not reflected a conclusive picture of youths from different parts of the world.


Gender


The cast of the television show was made up of six friends including three females and males. The producers were able to convey gender equality and balance in a period of male chauvinism and gender discrimination. Consequently, the show conveyed great improvements in terms of the representation of women in mainstream media.

In addition, women were shown in a different light through Rachel’s character. Her sexual freedom illustrated a liberated woman in a male-dominated society. She was able to break the traditional stereotypes that were formed against women. Rachel starts as a woman who is financially dependent on her father and the progress to get a job as a waitress. Finally, Rachel builds herself a successful career that becomes an inspiration to most women.


Sexuality


The television show did not display any sexual content or nudity throughout its ten seasons. On the other hand, Chandler mannerisms portrayed him as gay while Joey came out as more of a womanizer. Despite the fact that homosexuality was not featured in the television show during the period, Chandler’s father was brought out as a transsexual while Ross’ ex-wife was shown as a lesbian. The show can be considered to be conveying heterosexual behavior and values to the younger audience.


Ethnicity


Situation comedy is a genre that has grown to become an important segment of American culture. The television show was able to expose the audience to a detailed ethnic background of the cast. For instance, the audience was able to learn about Chandler’s indifferent behavior towards Christmas and Thanksgiving. The show was able to depict a group of friends that operated as a family unit and supported each other.

Notably, the support resembled that given by parents and siblings. Unfortunately, the show was not able to include minority groups since it was composed of an all-American cast. This illustrated that society is biased towards choosing friends. The six friends were never shown hanging out with persons from a minority group. Blacks and Mexicans were always in the background of the café and never in the forefront of the main actions.


Pluralism


Pluralism has become an essential part of the current society since it emphasizes on inclusivity and non-discrimination. Communication must be composed of elements such as freedom of speech, expression and acceptance toward other people’s values (Ott & Mack, 2010). Television is an important medium for conveying important messages because those watching the television tend to compare their lives with those of the prominent television characters.

Some people can go a step further to imitate respective behaviors of actors, their talking and walking styles and fashion choices. Friends was taken as a show with the most realistic episodes that accurately displayed the young people’s lifestyle. The story revolves around six young friends struggling to survive in New York City on meager salaries and unstable jobs. Their struggle in relationships is also illustrated in the manner in which they kept switching partners.


Conclusion


The television show illustrated the struggles that young people underwent when living in cities like New York. The culture displayed in the show is unique as it broke the norms such as male dominance and male chauvinism that characterized the society. Additionally, the show focused on the white middle-class struggles before engaging in gainful employment.

The six friends were all American young people who lived in a middle class setting. Friends television show had instances of discrimination against the minority social groups, which are not evident in most scenes. Although express hatred was not shown towards those belonging to the minority groups, some were displayed in the background of the café.

The show also showed the biases that existing in a society where people get to choose their friends and acquaintances. In addition, the show was able to display the value of living in a small community where everyone could be able to find his/her identity and security. Concisely, the show focused on bringing together persons sharing similar social and economic problems and clarifying the importance of synergy through coming together to brainstorm on the possible solutions.

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