Author Kelsey Miller has written an absolute gift for you if you’re a FRIENDS fan. Her new book, “I’ll Be There For You” is all about FRIENDS. This book is thoroughly researched, reported, and written in an educational and fun way. It is an absolute treat for anyone who loved the show when it was on the air from 1994 to 2004 or caught up when it hit Netflix just a few years back.
However, this book is not just fun. It talks about the issues that the show did and did not cover. How the group stayed actual friends after the show went off the air. Little tidbits about characters that almost or did happen. How the show and its cast influenced viewers and what viewers can learn from watching the series today.
From how it dealt with “fat Monica” to Chandler’s transgender father, it covers it all. The show was much more than just “We were on a break!” But yes, that was there too. Rest assured, it will just open your eyes to TV’s past. You’ll still love the show after checking out her book while influencing the future for the better.
Here is the list of five ways FRIENDS changed TV and the world. Let’s check it out:
After 9/11, FRIENDS Helped To Change How The World Viewed America
In an interview with Good Morning America (GMA), Miller tells that there actually has been some research on that. She said, “Friends’ was having a stronger impact on positive attitudes toward views on America. Yeah, this is a show we can all kind of watch in our heads without thinking about it.” She further added, “But there really is a lot we can learn from it and it also stands as this huge historical marker from that era.”
There was no doubt that the gang was really influencing the world and shedding a fun, silly light on this country, while Miller dedicates a full chapter on what happened to Television after 9/11. She added that after that national tragedy “everything kind of stopped and had to recalibrate.”
Miller said, “Friends’ was in a really unique position and they handled it uniquely. Before the attacks happened, the show was probably going to wrap up after the next season. The audience was drifting away and it seemed like it was time to go, but afterward, viewers came flooding back to it.”
According to Miller, the audiences were glued to the news and also glued to FRIENDS because after all, it was New York, familiar, unchanged, and really good comedy. The show organically added tributes like American flags in the background and New York Fire Department (FDNY) shirts as well. However, it did not attack the storyline and just let it represent the pride of New York and its heroes at that time.
The One Where Two Women Got Married
Miller also added a chapter in her book that focuses on the union between Ross’s ex Carol and Susan. In 1996, the marriage took place which was definitely ahead of its time. However, looking back, it also feels very conservative the way it was handled.
The wedding scene actually only lasted about 60 seconds and the duo wasn’t allowed to kiss after getting married. And also, since Ross’s ex married a woman, there were tons of gay jokes. Miller said, “When I was first writing about the revival of the show in 2014, 2015, everybody was talking about the homophobia.”
She continued subtly, “The one with the lesbian wedding was definitely a ground-breaking episode. Newt Gingrich’s sibling actually plays the officiant, which is kind of crazy if you think about Newt Gingrich in the 1990s on this topic.”
Let’s Talk About Chandler’s Family And “Fat Monica”
Well, every FRIENDS fans know that Chandler’s father left his mother for the pool boy. And, later he decided that she was a trans woman. However, it was played by Kathleen Turner and not a female trans woman. When she would appear in the series, there were some trans zingers thrown on her, just like gay jokes.
And then there was “fat Monica”. It was Ross’s sister’s old nickname, and it is very easy to guess why because she was overweight in her younger years. Miller said that she spoke to fans and producers regarding this polarizing issue.
She said, “A lot of people were obviously offended by her and a lot loved her. It’s not cut and dry, and it’s the same with Chandler’s dad.” She continued, “One woman I spoke to, a trans woman, who wasn’t out yet while still in college, was saying, ‘There was literally nothing else for me to watch.'”
Chandler’s family may have seemed offensive to some in the past, but many realized the fact that this representation of the trans community was needed and deserved. She said, “She told me, ‘Yeah looking back, it’s horrible how they treat her and the fact she’s such a joke,’ but at that time, the only places you saw trans characters was on ‘Law & Order’ and they would be a murder victim.”
One For All And All For One
In TV history, the cast of FRIENDS is notorious as the one that made sure they all got equal pay that is $1 million per episode. You can see the influence of unity in shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and more. There also casts did the same thing and made sure the whole on-screen family is taken care of.
Miller said, “FRIENDS also really created an archetype for this gang-type situational comedy. Not that it hadn’t been around before, but shows like “New Girl” and “Big Bang” definitely take their cues from FRIENDS.”
After that many really good shows centered on friendship. She said, “A lot of people talk about ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ … Even in shows like ‘Girls,’ the whole concept really does mirror ‘Friends’ in a 21st century way. It’s just about a group of girls going through the same period of their life that the characters on FRIENDS were.”
Did FRIENDS Influence The Marvel Cinematic Universe?
We all know this a huge stretch but let’s take a look into it.
Did you know that Ursula, Phoebe’s sister pre-dates the show? She was featured for a full year on “Mad About You” before the show launched. But to make Lisa Kudrow part of the cast, the network decided to share her for FRIENDS. Miller admits, “It makes it seem like TV was such a quaint, tiny town back in the day. For a while, there were times she’d be on both shows on the same night.”
There was also a famous blackout night, where all the shows in New York dealt with a blackout. She said, “It was NBC [that] realized our entire Thursday night takes place in the same universe, why don’t we do this? They did a lot of fun crossovers, like the episode where the “ER” doctors just sort of fly in and they are fixing Rachel’s sprained ankle. I love it, think they did a really great job.”
So, long before Iron Man and Captain America were making cameos in Marvel films, the cast of FRIENDS was doing some similar things.