We loved and watched them for 10 years straight. We hung out in their apartment, went to work with them, had coffee with them and knew all about their relationships. It was almost like they were really your Friends. The TV sitcom Friends brought you into the lives of Monica Geller (Courtney Cox), Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), Ross Geller (David Schwimmer), Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), and Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry). Millions of us watched their relationships grow stronger over the years. We watched them, fell in love with them, and laughed with them. If you were to watch any episode of Friends, I am sure you would fall in love with these six Friends too!
If you were a true Friends fan you would know the story of these six characters from the very beginning to the very end. To refresh your memory, it all started at the infamously known Central Perk coffee house. This was where Rachel Green came storming in wearing a wedding dress looking for her long time childhood and best friend Monica Geller. Rachel had just run out of her wedding. Since Rachel had nowhere to go, so she moved into Apartment 20 with Monica in New York City. Right across the hall in Apartment 19 lived the two funny men, Joey Tribbiani and Chandler Bing. Joey was a struggling actor and Chandler was a junior copywriter for an advertising agency. Coming from two different worlds the two men came together and somehow became inseparable. They lived together and brought along their Chick and their Duck. This just added to the craziness which Chandler and Joey saw as normal. They were the best of friends. Another friend was Phoebe Buffay, who was a guitar singer at Central Perk. She was best known for her hit song “Smelly Cat” and was also a masseuse. This perky, fun, out of this world girl was the one who kept you laughing for days. She was not like any of the other 5 of the friends, but she was still one of them. Finally there was Ross Geller, who was Monica’s brother. Ross also knew Rachel and had always had a crush on her. Ross went through multiple break ups and makes ups, but always loved Rachel Green. In addition, he was a geeky paleontologist and the one who was always there if you ever needed anything. These 6 friends are people who at times you could relate to and at times you could just laugh at. But this was only the beginning.
As these 10 years moved along, we watched the biggest milestones in these peoples’ lives. We lived through Ross and Rachel’s break ups and make-ups. We all secretly wanted these two people to be together. To this day, Ross and Rachel are one of the most famous television couples. Their love was too strong to keep them apart for long periods of time. Although they fought and struggled together and apart you could always feel the love they had for each other. We even watched these two have a baby together. Another big milestone in Friends history was when Monica and Chandler went from being neighbors, to friends, to having a secret relationship, to getting married. Monica and Chandler were the perfect couple. Monica the control freak and Chandler the sarcastic one made the perfect match for one another. They were, so in love and yet so different. The milestones that were shared throughout the Friends series will never ever be forgotten.
The clip that you are about to see is the last scene from Friends. This scene depicts the conclusion of ten years of very special friendships. Monica and Chandler have just gotten their newborn babies and are moving out of their Apartment. It was in Apartment 20 where it all started and now where it was all going to end. It was in Apartment 20 where everything happened. And now it was in Apartment 20 that we all had to say our final good-byes. This last good bye was very difficult to watch, but it was a scene that pulled together and tied together their friendships. It was the farewell that the audience was hoping for.
Now that you know a little bit more about who our Friends are and were for 10 years, lets get into what that video showed. Let’s also discuss what it meant to all of us at home watching as the 6 friends said goodbye to one another as well as to their beloved fans and audience.
The way that I am going to look at this Friends scene is through the text-centered approach, Narrative Analysis. The Narrative Analysis is text-centered and mostly has to do with storytelling, which is the common way in which we tell stories in our culture. The definition of the Narrative Analysis approach has to do with the systematic study of texts and how they are structured into a cause and effect of events with a beginning middle and end. This approach helps us understand the sequence of events, which helps reveal the potential meaning that is embedded in the texts. There are three different approaches in which we can look at when learning about the Narrative Analysis. They include, the Aristotelian Approach, Visualist Approach, and Stucturalist Approach. I will take each of these approaches and will break down the scene that you saw above from the hit sitcom Friends.
The first approach, Aristotelian Approach, examines narratives through the element of drama. It looks at the contents (plot, character, setting, theme) and vehicles (language, vocalization, performance). Through this approach we can understand the genre. In this scene we see each of the Friend’s cast all very upset. They are realizing that their 10-year run is finally coming to an end. There are tears, laughter, and smiles. Although that is the way that they are told to act during this scene, we can honestly tell that a lot of their emotions are real. None of these actors and actresses wants to leave their characters and their friends. Jennifer Anniston is not looking to leave Rachel Green, just as David Schwimmer is not looking to leave behind Ross Geller. We can all understand the emptiness these characters are feeling when we are looking at the empty apartment. We watched each one of them let go of their keys and leave the apartment, which was their home. We watched as they walk out but were unable to really leave and decided to go to Central Perk for one last cup of coffee.
The next approach is the, Visualist Approach. This approach seeks to examine narratives through the camera narrator. It helps the audience understand the role of Visualist effects. As the 6 Friends walk out of their apartment and the camera follows them you see an empty apartment. It hits you as the audience that these people who you watched for 10 years, are really leaving and they are not coming back. You can take this approach also and look at the last couple of seconds, starting at 3:05. You watch as they go back into the empty Apartment 20 and give you every corner of the home. You take it all in and you are able to think about the good times, the bad times, the funny times, and the sad times you were able to share with these six people. Ending with the “door frame” really does finish the Friends story. But the final clincher was seeing the little gold frame that bordered the keyhole. This was a symbol that this was really good-bye.
Finally the last approach is the Stucturalist Approach. This approach helps us understand the narrative through the act of emplotments (selection and arrangement of events happening in coherent narratives) and how the storyteller developed a coherent sequence of events to make meaning. This approach can look into the beginning, middle, and end of all 10 years of this series. We watched these six people grow up together and we were also able to grow up with them. From the beginning of the series to the last scene the events and story lines that were told were portrayed in a way that felt real. That is why I believe that the very last scene was so effective. It ended in a way that was meaningful to the audience and long time fans of the show. We truly never wanted to say goodbye to Friends. We all grew to understand the meaning of the special friendships that developed over the 10 years. Friends, gave us everything we wanted and so much more from the very beginning to the very end!