Why was the spin-off of Friends, Joey, such a failure?

“Joey” was a spin-off television show of Friends. In this show, Joey moves to LA to pursue his acting career. His sister Gina sets him up with a place and her son is Joey’s roommate.  According to some reviews, people felt that the audience should have given the show more of a chance and reminded the blog readers how many problems that Friends had when it first aired. NBC placed “Joey” in the same slot that Friends was in so that they would keep the same audience. The main reason that the show was cancelled was the fact that it was very overshadowed by American Idol. The press ripped “Joey” apart. People feel that they should have left the show on because people were still drawn to it since it was the last way to hold onto “Friends” This article mentioned that Friends got criticized for not having enough minorities in the show. They added in an African-American friend, but the character was very dull. You can read more on this topic at http://poobala.com/friendsandjoey.html. It was a tricky thing for Joey to have his own show based off of Friends, but if they had done it right with the right advertising and if they had not been overshadowed too much by American Idol, it could have happened. The spin-off of Cheers, Frasier, pulled it off just fine.

                                                                 

Why No Movie?

Many avid fans of Friends have awaited either a re-unions of Friends or a movie. With movies based off of shows like Sex in the City flourishing, Why hasn’t NBC decided to make a movie?

According to the attached article, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1030981/Friends-reunited-Jennifer-Aniston-gang-set-return-big-screen-blockbuster.html, there was once discussion of a Friends movie. The actors saw how successful the Sex and the City movie was and how it has spread worldwide. The only actress that was not fully on board with the movie was Jennifer Aniston. She felt that she had played too many roles and had become too popular to be believable as Rachel again.

Some sources such as http://news.softpedia.com/news/Friends-Movie-Drops-in-Theaters-in-2011-122831.shtml believe that the movie is still going to happen and that all of the financial issues and story line issues have been panned out. Other sources like http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/06/10/friends-movie-courteney-cox/ say that feel that people are worried that a movie will not be as popular as the Sex and the City movie because the Sex and the City girls ran all over Manhattan while the gang on Friends were either in Central Perk or in Monica’s Apartment. Some people also feel it would be a little silly because they waited too long. The cast members are now all in their forties and cannot pass for being 32, as most of them left off at the finale. Other sources like http://www.hitfix.com/articles/no-friends-movie-anytime-soon-say-cougar-pals-cox-and-kudrow say that the movie was never in the works and the directors and producers never had any plans to make a movie.

The Audience, Now and Then

Research shows that audiences did not like the Pilot Episode and the show almost did not make it. But, as people got into the show it became a “rating powerhouse” according to an internal NBC research report obtained by The Smoking Gun.  The research report explained that audiences were tested prior to the shows debuted and people did not find it funny or entertaining. People felt that the characters were dull and that they did not really care about each other enough. I personally found this hard to believe that an audience can feel this strongly after just one episode. The study was obviously wrong, as Friends lasted for 10 years. The study showed that people between 18-34 were most likely to watch the show and relate to the characters. There were no discrepancies in sex. Monica was the most liked character overall. Joey was the most liked character amongst teenage boys. Overall, people did not find the pilot to be original or clever. According to the study, people felt that the show was much like Melrose Place Many people were appauled that Monica had sex with a man on her first date in the pilot episode. People felt that Phoebe was too eccentric to be believable.

The report below shows demographics of people who graded the pilot episode in 1994:

55 Women ages 18-49, 70 men ages 18-49, 28 teens, and 19 above the age of 50 rated the show. Overall the show rated Just Average.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/nbcs-failing-grade-friends

As of October 2011, Nielson Research has concluded that, “For the second week in a row, NBC’s “Friends” was the most popular prime-time show .” http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,622832,00.html  It was also determined that,, NBC won the Friday night ratings this weekend with a 1.1 rating in the all-important adults 18-49 demographic.”. http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/news/a338562/nbc-wins-friday-night-ratings-with-friends-with-benefits.html

Friends joined the Nick-at Nite line-up on September 5, 2011. The station new that Friends had high ratings and put it on the air as a double take to keep audiences enticed. Many people were surprised that Friends was being aired along with other shows that were popular in the 90s like The Cosby Show.  People could not believe that Friends is now considered an “old” show, but people are happy that it is back on. http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/09/04/140183137/friends-comes-to-nick-at-nite-does-this-syndication-deal-make-me-look-old

Nickelodeon is trying to market Friends to a teenage/ young adult audience to keep the show alive even though it is very highly unlikely that they show will start up again or that a movie will come out of it.

Some blogs explain that audiences can still watch Friends on TBS even after it airs on Nick at Night. “Nick at Nite having the 6pm-6am rights, while TBS has the 6am-6pm rights (Both Nick at Nite and TBS have a six-year deal running through 2017.”

http://blog.sitcomsonline.com/2011/03/nick-at-nite-acquires-yes-dear-friends.html#ixzz1fc7yZlgd

Interview #2 – Margaret (54 years old)

Do you remember when Friends first aired? What drew you to the show?

Yes. I saw I t advertised on the television and I thought it was interesting because it was a bunch of young, fun people. It seemed like a fun idea that all of these people with different personalities, and careers. I also liked the actors. I knew Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, and David Schwimmer. Jennifer Aniston’s father was a soap opera star, and I knew Courtney Cox from the movie Scream.

Do you still watch it?

Yes. When I see it on television I try to catch it because I have not seen every episode. They have it on the cablevision channels. I am usually home when it is on. I don’t tape record it or anything because I’m not good with the remote.

Are you aware that Nick-At-Nite aired it again?

I know that they have all day marathons sometimes, but I am not sure that this is from Nickelodeon. I have not seen any commercials or advertisements that it is on that that time. But now that I know I will try to catch it.

Why do you think that Nick-At-Nite decided to air it again?

I think that it is an extremely popular show. Every seemed to enjoy it because it was funny/ They were young actors whose careers really took off because of it. They also brought in Brad Pitt, Tom Selleck, Morgan Fairchild, Katherine Turner, Bruce Willis, Christina Applegate, Robin Williams.

Who is your favorite Character? Why?

I would say Phoebe. She is so quirky and free. She sees life differently than any of the other ones. She is too sexually free though. She is always having a fling.

What do you think the writers stress throughout the series as themes?

Friendship. They all back each other up. They are so supportive and there is no jealousy. They really want the best for each other and are there for each other. They don’t let each other down and their arguments last about two minutes. Its all the important things that you want in a friendship. When there is a death, they all cry for each other.

None of the characters hang out in bars and drink and party all night unlike the shows that are on television today. You rarely see any of them drunk. None of them do drugs. Their only vice is that some of the girls are too open sexually. They have had too many partners and they rip on Rachel for being easy in high school.

What do you think of the Fat Monica episodes?

I think they could have been a little nicer. They got her point across that she was heavy, but I think they went overboard. There are people that are hevy that present themselves very nicely. I think it definitely was intended to be funny, but it got a little out of hand. There was a nicer way to present her. Also, I think that it wasn’t very nice that Monica’s parents clearly liked Ross more than Monica.

Interview #1 – Kristi

How old are you?

22

How old were you when you first started watching Friends?

I used to watch it with my mom when I was about 5 or 6, but I’m not sure if I really followed half of what was going on in the show. But, by the time I was about 8, me and all of my friends got really into it and we used to go to each other’s houses just to watch it.

Do you own any of the seasons?

Yes. I have seasons 1, 2, and 3 at home. I don’t really watch the DVD’s though since Nick-At-Nite has Friends on every night from 11:30-12:30, so I usually just TiVo it. I watch it pretty much every day. I am so happy that Nick-At-Nite aired it again. It only used to play on TBS I think.

You probably didn’t catch any of the themes of the show when you were younger, but as an adult, what do you think the writers stress throughout the series?

Well, they definitely stress being with a person that you love and being realistic about relationships meaning that if you don’t see the relationship leading anywhere, then there’s no point in dating them. You see this clearly with the rollercoaster of a ride in the romance between Ross and Rachel. Joey is an example of this too. He goes through girls like water, nothing ever comes of it. Later in the season, joey wants to settle down because he realizes that meaningless relationships aren’t all that great. You also definitely see this with Rachel. In season 1, her parents spent a ton of money on her wedding and she literally decided that Barry was not the right person the morning of her wedding.  Rachel also warns her sister Amy that it is not right to marry a man just because of his money. Even with Monica, She was completely in love with Richard. But, she couldn’t marry him because he didn’t fully have his heart in having more kids since he was so much older than her.  I barely have to explain Ross’ love situation and how it is important to marry for love. He went through so many wives.

I also realize that the show was all for gay marriage way before it’s time.  Maybe it was because I was young when I first saw the show, but I was old enough to realize that you don’t see two women get married and raise kids on television every day.

Why do you think that Nick-At-Nite decided to air again?

I just think it was perfect timing. People our age were in a craze about how the station was playing shows from when we were kids and shows that we talk about all the time because we miss them, like Rocco’s Modern Life, Doug, and Whose Afraid of the Dark. So they probably figured while we have this age group enticed, we can put Friends on since they had a very high rating at the time.

Pro- Interracial Relationships

The writers make it clear that there is nothing wrong with having interracial couples on television.

Ross meets a beautiful African American woman named Kristen on the street and offers to help her move. At this point, Rodd finds it very hard to catch a date because of all of his failed marriages and his son. He works up the courage and asks her out. When Ross, Joey, and Chandler are together at Central Perk, Chandler catches on that Rodd and Joey are dating the same girl because Joey just described how he met a girl and was helping her move. The relationship did not work out for either of them because they were too obsessed with getting her to date him that it scared her off. The following link serves as an example of this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQFFyKthv_s

Later on in the series, Ross meets another beautiful, and very intelligent African American women who is perfect for him since she is a paleontologist as well. At first they hit it off great, until Ross found her making out with Joey at a party. Joey and Charley clearly did not mesh well together since Charley was much more intelligent than Joey. This time, Ross got the girl he wanted. But, this was short lived because Charley realized that she was still in love with her (white) ex-boyfriend. The scene can be viewed on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwv74JufNx0

Pro-Gay Marriage

The characters feel strongly about marrying and staying with the person only if you truly love them.

Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer) married Carol after dating for seven years. In the first episode Carol realizes that she is a lesbian and that she is in love with her friend Susan, who in turn loves her back. Later on in the series, Carol and Susan get married much to Carol’s parents’ dismay. Ross sits her down and explains to her that if she truly loves Susan and Susan loves her back that it does not matter if Carol’s parents attend the wedding or not. He tells her that she must be happy with the decision because if it is done the right way she will be married with Susan the rest of her life. They hyphen their last name and raise a son together. Everyone is thrilled that Susan and Carol get married.

The writers also toyed with the idea of the character of Chandler being gay. The gang often cracks joke about him being feminine, but they also say that there would be nothing wrong if he was gay that they would still love him just the same. Chandler’s father is a drag queen who lives in Las Vegas. He borrows Monica’s pearls before their wedding. Although Chandler is very uncomfortable with his dad being a drag queen, the gang does not make fun of it. Chandler’s mother is a lesbian, but has a fling with Ross Gellar while he is intoxicated.

I am surprised the writers were so open with their since it was such a controversial topic at the time with people being disgusted at Ellen DeGeneres coming out on television. More can be read about this at: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/23/weekinreview/since-coming-out-is-in-a-guide-for-the-tv-audience.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Anti- Smoking

The writers of friends place a heavy emphasis on the negative effects of smoking. In the first season, the friends catch Chandler smoking a cigarette in Central Perk.  The conversation leads the audience to believe that he has quit smoking for a long time and had recently started again. Rachel and Monica get up because they stress that they cannot stand the smell.  Chandler makes a joke that he missed not being able to  climb up the stairs in his building  without coughing, the stench that stays on his newly turned yellow fingers, and the ashtray feeling in his mouth when he wakes up. Phoebe pays him a large sum if he promises not to smoke again. He takes it .  In season six when Monica and Chandler are buying a house and applying to adopt a child, Monica asks Chandler if he cleaned up all of his cigarette hiding places so that the adoption agency doesn’t see anything. When Chandler moves to Tulsa, he learns that It is legal to smoke in an office room if there are  ten or les people in the room. Chandler starts to smoke a carton a day and is shown horribly coughing when he wakes up in the morning. The gang constantly criticizes Chandler whenever he picks up smoking again.

When Rachel works at Bloomingdales, she realizes that she is missing out of very important business decisions because her Boss and the other assistant buyer would often go out for cigarettes and chat about business. Rachel gets fed up with being left out and comes outside to try to chat with them and ended up telling them that she smokes cigarettes all the time that they never noticed. They were very pleased and she was included in on the decisions. She clearly was not a smoker because she grimaced, and coughed at each pull of the cigarette. When she met up with Monica at Central Perk, Monica was disgusted at her smell, while Chandler was telling her that she would get used to it in 3 or 4 weeks.

Weight Continued…

When Friends first aired, Both Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox were a healthy size 6 in jeans. They both had toned bodies without being twigs. But as the seasons moved on, it was almost as if Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox were in a battle to see who could lose the most weight. Audiences questioned whether the two actresses had eating disorders. http://caringonline.com/eatdis/people.htm and http://www.studentxpress.ie/features/anorexia.html.

Courtney Cox had to defend herself many times through the season that she did not have an eating disorder and that her and Jennifer Aniston did eat similar things, but that was normal since they ate lunch together every day for ten years.

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Courtney-Cox-Denies-Eating-Disorder-Rumors-7518.shtml

Phoebe never got involved in the weight battle, but she always felt out of place since her appearance is very different than that of Rachel and Monica. Lisa Kudrow is 5’10” and 118 pounds. Courtney Cox is 5’5” 100 pounds and Jennifer Aniston is 5’5”-110 pounds.  Ross’ weight is also never mentioned.

When Monica and Chandler get engaged, there is a scene of Monica and the girls going out to celebrate at lunch. A woman at another table comes over to Monica and snottily wishes her good luck marrying chandler Bing. It turns out that Chandler broke up with her because she got fat.

Many audiences’ members on blogs noticed that Courtney Cox packed on a few pounds in season 10. Little did that know that Courtney Cox became pregnant in the 10th season,. The writers and directors had to hide her weight gain because Monica’s character was incapable of having children and they were in the process of adopting.

Weight

In the early seasons of Friends, none of the main characters were depicted as overweight.  But, throughout the seasons, the writers put a lot of emphasis on weight.

There are several blogs which focus solely on Chandler’s extreme weight gains and losses: http://www.tv.com/shows/friends/forums/matthew-perrys-weight-changes-186-1011849/

Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) starts off the season as a very jumpy, energetic, and skinny man.  Few people know that he was this thin because he has a pain killer addiction after getting into a skiing accident in 1997. He was very thin because he was addicted to Vicodin. He then became heavier in seasons two and three because he became addicted to alcohol. Chandler’s character moved to Tulsa in the seventh season even though he was married to Monica, who stayed in New York. The writers had to do this because Matthew Perry was checked into rehab at this time. In season two, episode seven, “The One Where Ross Finds Out”, there was a whole episode on Chandlers sudden weight gain. Chandler’s friends make several jokes about Chandler getting heavy, so Monica takes him on as a project because she is unemployed.

The gang often brings up how fat Monica used to be when she was younger. They told stories of her breaking chairs, eating whole family dinners so that the family would go to bed hungry, and her having to make up a boyfriend in high school because the boys thought she was too fat.  Ross reminisces the time when Monica was sent to her room and she ate macaroni off of a spray painted Christmas wreath that she made for school. He also talks about how the family couldn’t afford to have a clubhouse because they had to pay for their dog’s surgery since Monica sat on the dog and crushed it.  The writers and directors have several “Fat Monica” scenes where Courtney Cox is shown wearing a fat suit and constantly eating in these scenes. Fat Monica is a compete mockery of overweight people. They make it seem as if Monica cared about nothing other than food. Monica went on a diet and shed pounds when she was 18 after she overheard Chandler call her “fat” at Thanksgiving.  She also heard Chandler say that he didn’t want to be stuck in the house with Ross’ fat sister. This really made Monica think about her weight. When the gang was watching Monica and Rachel’s high school prom video, Joey Tribbiani shouts, “Some girl ate Monica!” Any episode which depicts Fat Monica, her character is always dancing in a mocking manner with food in her hand. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn1ZOoSfO_A The gang also makes jokes about how her marching band costume in high school had to be custom made. Ross once told the gang that he had to see a therapist because he had reoccurring dreams that Monica was trying to eat him. Ross also tells the story about the time Monica almost got kicked out of fat camp because she was trying to eat a squirrel and got caught in barbed wire. When Monica was not invited to her cousins wedding, Ross tells her that the last time her cousin saw her, that she could have turned a chair into kindling.

In the episode, “The One That Could Have Been”, the writers developed a plot scenario if the things would have happened differently in their lives. The writers thought it would be funny if Monica had never lost weight. In this episode, she is a 32 year old virgin who is constantly eating.

There are several blogs which discuss Fat Monica at length:

http://mycropht.wordpress.com/2006/09/27/fat-monica/

http://www.harpyness.com/2010/01/12/eff-fat-suits/

http://thecurvynerd.com/2011/06/08/seeking-token-fat-characters/

http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2006/01/10/fatsuits-blackface-and-comparing-oppressions/

http://kateharding.net/2007/06/14/why-i-still-use-the-term-fat-acceptance/

http://www.enotes.com/topic/Monica_Geller#Physical_Appearance

http://willnotdiet.blogspot.com/2010/04/wow-just-wow-why-glee-is-best-show-on.html

http://kateharding.net/2008/11/18/a-whole-new-kind-of-headless-fatty/