|That 70's Show
Analysis of Friends
Overview of Content Analysis
Goal of this Project
Overview of Content Analysis
analysis is a systematic and objective study of various forms of visual
images, written or spoken texts. It is based on a number of rules
and procedures that must be rigorously followed for the analysis of images
or texts to be reliable (on its terms)(Rose, p.1). According to
Rose, there are four steps to content analysis: finding images; devising
categories for coding; coding the images; and analyzing the results.
Goal of This Project
TV shows has become a phenomenon not only in North America, but also over
most of countries. People sit at home and watch a TV screen, often caring
more about what happens to these electronic images than we care about
our neighbors and families. Stefan Herrmann (Do
we learn to read television like a kind of language?
May 2000) points out that people usually watch TV and interpret the
code of images shown in a rather natural way, rather than passively receiving
without thinking. He says, As we have to learn the alphabet and
language to be able to read a book, we also have to learn to interpret
the images shown on TV to be able to understand them. For Herrmann,
television is the window to the world. It is like a mirror,
which reflects the reality of the society. Therefore, through analyzing
a popular television show one can examine the concept or context of that
society. On this point, I totally agree with Herrmann.
purpose of this study is to examine a popular television show in order
to look at the lives of North American young people, and in particular
marriage and friendship among them. Friends
is chosen as a representative show since it displays the larger social-cultural
is an American sitcom which started on television in September 1994. It
has since become one of the most popular TV programs in North America.
This show has attracted something of a cult audience since it truly pictures
life among the singles (twenty-something) of North America. The majority
of viewers are in the age range of eighteen to thirty. So Friends
displays young Americans daily life, and it is also famous and contemporary.
there are already in excess of 150 episodes of Friends and it is
still in production, analyzing all of the episodes in such a short time
is difficult. Therefore, I am going to choose one episode for an analysis.
I have picked up Friends episode #108:
The One Where Nana Dies Twice.
am going to divide the content of Friends into five categories:
Homosexual Relationships; Heterosexual Relationships; Marriage Relationships;
Family Relationships; and Friendships.
define Homosexual Relationships as those of explicit or implicit homosexual
affairs among the group members or between their friends, such as Ross
ex-wife and her partner.
relationships are defined as the romantic loving affairs among the group
members such as Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, as well as affairs
of group members with their lovers outside the group.
is defined as loving affairs in the episodes which involve into the marriage,
including homosexual relationships such as Ross ex-wife Carol and
her partner Susans wedding, as well as heterosexual relationships
such as Monica and Chandlers wedding.
is defined as those family members relationship. Its a warm
or bitter place in which many relatives of the group members are involved
such as family of Ross and Monicas parents.
are defined as good relationships of which the support and comfort, the
group members giving and receiving from one another and from friends outside
Office, Chandler is on a coffee break. Shelley enters.)
1. Shelley: Hey gorgeous, how's it going?
2. Chandler: Dehydrated Japanese noodles under fluorescent lights... does
it get better than this?
3. Shelley: Question. You're not dating anybody, are you, because I met
somebody who would be perfect for you.
4. Chandler: Ah, y'see, perfect might be a problem. Had you said 'co-dependent',
5. Shelley: Do you want a date Saturday?
6. Chandler: Yes please.
7. Shelley: Okay. He's cute, he's funny, he's-
8. Chandler: He's a he?
9. Shelley: Well yeah! ...Oh God. I- just- I thought- Good, Shelley. I'm
just gonna go flush myself down the toilet now...(backs out of the room)
[Scene: Monica and Rachel's, everyone is there.)
10. Chandler: ...Couldn't enjoy a cup of noodles after that. I mean, is
that ridiculous? Can you believe she actually thought that?
11. Rachel: Um... yeah. Well, I mean, when I first met you, y'know, I
thought maybe, possibly, you might be...
12. Chandler: You did?
13. Rachel: Yeah, but then you spent Phoebe's entire birthday party talking
to my breasts, so then I figured maybe not.
14. Chandler: Huh. Did, uh... any of the rest of you guys think that when
you first met me?
15. Monica: I did.
16. Phoebe: Yeah, I think so, yeah.
17. Joey: Not me.
18. Ross: Nono, me neither. Although, uh, y'know, back in college, Susan
19. Chandler: You're kidding! Did you tell her I wasn't?
20. Ross: No. No, it's just 'cause, uh, I kinda wanted to go out with
her too, so I told her, actually, you were seeing Bernie Spellman... who
also liked her, so...
(Joey congratulates Ross, sees Chandler's look and abruptly stops.)
21. Chandler: Well, this is fascinating. So, uh, what is it about me?
22. Phoebe: I dunno, 'cause you're smart, you're funny...
23. Chandler: Ross is smart and funny, d'you ever think that about him?
24. All: Yeah! Right!
25. Chandler: WHAT IS IT?!
26. Monica: Okay, I-I d'know, you-you just- you have a quality.
27. All: Yes. Absolutely. A quality.
28. Chandler: Oh, oh, a quality, good, because I was worried you guys
were gonna be vague about this.
[Scene: Central Perk, Chandler, Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel are there.]
29. Chandler: I just have to know, okay. Is it my hair?
30. Rachel: (exasperated) Yes, Chandler, that's exactly what it is. It's
31. Phoebe: Yeah, you have homosexual hair.
(Monica and Ross enter.)
[Scene: Chandler's Office, Shelley is drinking coffee; Chandler enters.]
32. Chandler: Hey, gorgeous.
33. Shelley: (sheepish) Hey. Look, I'm sorry about yesterday, I, um-
34. Chandler: No, nono, don't- don't worry about it. Believe me, apparently
other people have made the same mistake.
35. Shelley: Oh! Okay! Phew!
36. Chandler: So, uh... what do you think it is about me?
37. Shelley: I dunno, uh... you just have a-a...
38. Chandler: ...Quality, right, great.
39. Shelley: Y'know, it's a shame, because you and Lowell would've made
a great couple.
40. Chandler: Lowell? Financial Services' Lowell, that's who you saw me
41. Shelley: What? He's cute!
42. Chandler: Well, yeah... 's'no Brian in Payroll.
43. Shelley: Is Brian...?
44. Chandler: No! Uh, I d'know! The point is, if you were gonna set me
up with someone, I'd like to think you'd set me up with someone like him.
45. Shelley: Well, I think Brian's a little out of your league.
46. Chandler: Excuse me? You don't think I could get a Brian? Because
I could get a Brian. Believe you me. ...I'm really not.
[Scene: Chandler's Office, Chandler is on a coffee break as Lowell enters.]
47. Chandler: Hey, Lowell.
48. Lowell: Hey, Chandler.
49. Chandler: So how's it going there in Financial Services?
50. Lowell: It's like Mardi Gras without the paper mache heads. How 'bout
51. Chandler: Good, good. Listen, heh, I dunno what Shelley told you about
me, but, uh... I'm not.
52. Lowell: I know. That's what I told her.
53. Chandler: Really.
54. Lowell: Yeah.
55. Chandler: So- you can tell?
56. Lowell: Pretty much, most of the time. We have a kind of... radar.
57. Chandler: So you don't think I have a, a quality?
58. Lowell: Speaking for my people, I'd have to say no. By the way, your
friend Brian from Payroll, he is.
59. Chandler: He is?
60. Lowell: Yup, and waaay out of your league. (Exits)
61. Chandler: Out of my league. I could get a Brian. (Brian enters behind
him) If I wanted to get a Brian, I could get a Brian. (Sees him) Hey,
1. Monica: Hello?
Hello? Oh! Rachel, it's Paolo calling from Rome.
2. Rachel: Oh my God! Calling from Rome! (Takes phone) Bon giorno, caro
3. Ross: (to Joey) So he's calling from Rome. I could do that. Just gotta
go to Rome.
4. Rachel: Monica, your dad just beeped in, but can you make it quick?
Talking to Rome. (Showing off to Phoebe and Chandler) I'm talking to Rome.
(Cut to Chandler and a woman, Andrea, reaching for the same slice of meat)
5. Chandler: Oh, no-
6. Andrea: Sorry- Hi, I'm Dorothy's daughter.
7. Chandler: Hi, I'm Chandler, and I have no idea who Dorothy is.
(They shake hands. Cut to Ross emerging from a hallway, grinning inanely.
He is obviously very stoned)
8. Rachel: (sticking her foot out) Hm-m.
9. Monica: Are these the shoes?
10. Rachel: Yes. Paolo sent them from Italy.
11. Ross: What, we-uh- we don't have shoes here, or...?
12. Ross: Rachel. Rachel Rachel. (Sits down beside her) I love you the
13. Rachel: (humoring him) Oh, well you know who I love the most?
14. Ross: No.
15. Rachel: You!
16. Ross: Oh.. you don't get it! (Passes out and slumps across her)
(Cut to Joey watching TV in the corner. He makes an extravagant gesture
(Rachel steps in a patch of mud)
17. Rachel: Oh no! My new Paolo shoes!
18. Ross: Oh, I hope they're not ruined.
[Scene: The Hospital,
Mr. and Mrs. Geller are there, along with Aunt Lillian. Ross and Monica
enter and everyone says hi and kisses.]
1. Ross: So, uh, how's she doing?
2. Aunt Lillian: The doctor says it's a matter of hours.
3. Monica: How-how are you, Mom?
4. Mrs. Geller: Me? I'm fine, fine. I'm glad you're here. ...What's with
5. Monica: What?
6. Mrs. Geller: What's different?
7. Monica: Nothing.
8. Mrs. Geller: Oh, maybe that's it.
(Monica strides over to Ross, who is making coffee, and talks to him aside.)
9. Monica: She is unbelievable, our mother is...
10. Ross: Okay, relax, relax. We are gonna be here for a while, it looks
like, and we still have boyfriends and your career to cover.
11. Monica: Oh God!
[Cut to the hospital, later. Everyone is talking about Nana.]
12. Monica: The fuzzy little mints at the bottom of her purse.
13. Ross: Oh! ...Yeah, they were gross. Oh, you know what I loved? Her
Sweet 'n' Los. How she was always stealing them from- from restaurants.
14. Mr. Geller: Not just restaurants, from our house.
(The nurse comes out of Nana's room.)
15. Nurse: Mrs. Geller?
(Everyone stands up. Cut to Ross and Monica in Nana's room.)
16. Ross: She looks so small.
17. Monica: I know.
18. Ross: Well, at least she's with Pop-Pop and Aunt Phyllis now.
19. Monica: G'bye, Nana. (She kisses her on the forehead.)
20. Ross: Bye, Nana.
(He goes to kiss her but she moves. Monica screams. Ross shouts and stares
in disbelief. Monica runs out of the room.)
21. Monica: Ross!
(Ross runs out too.)
22. Mrs. Geller: What is going on?!
23. Ross: Y'know how-how the nurse said that-that Nana had passed? Well,
she's not, quite..
24. Mrs. Geller: What?
25. Ross: She's not- past, she's present, she's back.
26. Aunt Lillian: (reentering) What's going on?
27. Mr. Geller: She may have died.
28. Aunt Lillian: She may have died?
29. Mr. Geller: We're looking into it.
(Monica returns with the nurse and they go into Nana's room.)
30. Ross: I, uh, I'll go see. (He goes in)
31. Nurse: This almost never happens!
(Nana passes for the second time and the nurse pulls the blanket over
her. Ross and Monica go to tell the family)
32. Ross: Now she's passed.
[Scene: Nana's house, Ross, Mrs. Geller and Aunt Lillian are going through
33. Ross: I thought it was gonna be a closed casket.
34. Mrs. Geller: Well, that doesn't mean she can't look nice!
(They open a cupboard which, amongst other things, contains a chest of
35. Mrs. Geller: Sweetie, you think you can get in there?
36. Ross: (sarcastic) I don't see why not.
(He tries pushing against the chest of drawers. Then he opens one of the
drawers and climbs into the closet using that; he falls behind the chest
of drawers with a shout.)
37. Ross: Here's my retainer!
[Scene: Monica and Rachel's, Monica is talking to her father.]
38. Mr. Geller: I was just thinking. When my time comes-
39. Monica: Dad!
40. Mr. Geller: Listen to me! When my time comes, I wanna be buried at
41. Monica: You what?
42. Mr. Geller: I wanna be buried at sea, it looks like fun.
43. Monica: Define fun.
44. Mr. Geller: C'mon, you'll make a day of it! You'll rent a boat, pack
45. Monica: ...And then we throw your body in the water... Gee, that does
46. Mr. Geller: Everyone thinks they know me. Everyone says 'Jack Geller,
so predictable'. Maybe after I'm gone, they'll say 'Buried at sea! Huh!'.
47. Monica: That's probably what they'll say.
48. Mr. Geller: I'd like that.
[Scene: Nana's Bedroom, Ross is holding a dress out from inside the closet.]
49. Ross: (holding a dress out from inside the closet) This one?
50. Aunt Lillian: No.
51. Ross: I have shown you everything we have. Unless you want your mother
to spend eternity in a lemon yellow pant-suit, go with the burgundy.
52. Aunt Lillian: You know, whatever we pick, she would've told us it's
the wrong one.
53. Mrs. Geller: You're right. We'll go with the burgundy.
54. Ross: Oh! A fine choice. I'm coming out. (Starts to climb over the
55. Aunt Lillian: Wait! We need shoes!
(Ross falls back inside)
56. Ross: Okay. Um, how about these? (Holds out a pair)
57. Mrs. Geller: That's really a day shoe.
58. Ross: And where she's going everyone else'll be dressier?
59. Aunt Lillian: Could we see something in a slimmer heel?
60. Ross: (forages around) Okay, I have nothing in an evening shoe in
the burgundy. I can show you something in a silver that may work.
61. Aunt Lillian: No, it really should be burgundy.
62. Mrs. Geller: Mm. Unless we go with a different dress?
63. Ross: No! Nonono, wait a sec. I may have something in the back.
(He finds a shoebox (out of shot), pulls it down and opens it. It is full
of Sweet 'n' Lo's).
64. Ross: Oh my God..
65. Mrs. Geller: Is everything all right, dear?
66. Ross: Yeah, just... just Nana stuff.
(He reaches up higher and knocks down another shoebox lid. Sweet 'n' Lo's
rain down on him)
[Scene: The cemetery, after the funeral.]
67. Monica: It was a really beautiful service.
68. Mrs. Geller: It really was. Oh, c'mere, sweetheart. (Hugs her) Y'know,
I think it might be time for you to start using night cream.
69. Mrs. Geller: Here, sweetie, here. I took these when I had my golfing
accident. (Hands Ross a bottle of pills. Then turns to Monica and pats
her hair over her ears)
70. Mrs. Geller: (to Monica) Your grandmother would have hated this.
71. Monica: Well, sure, what with it being her funeral and all.
72. Mrs. Geller: No, I'd be hearing about 'Why didn't I get the honey-glazed
ham?', I didn't spend enough on flowers, and if I spent more she'd be
saying 'Why are you wasting your money? I don't need flowers, I'm dead'.
73. Monica: That sounds like Nana.
74. Mrs. Geller: Do you know what it's like to grow up with someone who
is critical of every single thing you say?
75. Monica: ...I can imagine.
76. Mrs. Geller: I'm telling you, it's a wonder your mother turned out
to be the positive, life-affirming person that she is.
77. Monica: That is a wonder. So tell me something, Mom. If you had to
do it all over again, I mean, if she was here right now, would you tell
78. Mrs. Geller: Tell her what?
79. Monica: How she drove you crazy, picking on every little detail, like
your hair... for example.
80. Mrs. Geller: I'm not sure I know what you're getting at.
81. Monica: Do you think things would have been better if you'd just told
her the truth?
82. Mrs. Geller: ...No. I think some things are better left unsaid. I
think it's nicer when people just get along.
83. Monica: Huh.
84. Mrs. Geller: More wine, dear?
85. Monica: Oh, I think so.
86. Mrs. Geller: (reaches out to fiddle with Monica's hair again, and
realizes) Those earrings look really lovely on you.
87. Monica: Thank you. They're yours.
88. Mrs. Geller: Actually they were Nana's.
(There is a cry of disappointment from the crowd of men.)
89. Mr. Geller: Now I'm depressed! ...(To everyone) Even more than I was.
(Monica and Ross enter.)
1. Rachel: So, um, did she...
2. Ross: Twice.
3. Joey: Twice?
4. Phoebe: Oh, that sucks!
5. Joey: You guys okay?
6. Ross: I dunno, it's weird. I mean, I know she's gone, but I just don't
7. Phoebe: Maybe that's 'cause she's not really gone.
8. Ross: Nono, she's gone.
9. Monica: We checked. A lot.
10. Phoebe: Hm, I mean maybe no-one ever really goes. Ever since my mom
died, every now and then, I get the feeling that she's like right here,
y'know? (She circles her hand around her right shoulder. Chandler, sitting
on her right, draws back nervously) Oh! And Debbie, my best friend from
junior high- got struck by lightning on a miniature golf course- I always
get this really strong Debbie vibe whenever I use one of those little
yellow pencils, y'know? ...I miss her.
11. Rachel: Aw. Hey, Pheebs, want this? (Gives her a pencil)
12. Phoebe: Thanks!
13. Rachel: Sure. I just sharpened her this morning.
14. Joey: Now, see, I don't believe any of that. I think once you're dead,
you're dead! You're gone! You're worm food! (realises his tactlessness)
...So Chandler looks gay, huh?
15. Phoebe: Y'know, I dunno who this is, but it's not Debbie. (Hands back
[Scene: Monica and Rachel's, Monica and Rachel are preparing to leave
for the funeral.]
16. Ross: (entering) How we doing, you guys ready?
17. Monica: Mom already called this morning to remind me not to wear my
hair up. Did you know my ears are not my best feature?
18. Ross: Some days it's all I can think about.
19. Phoebe: (entering) Hi, sorry I'm late, I couldn't find my bearings.
20. Rachel: Oh, you-you mean your earrings?
21. Phoebe: What'd I say?
22. Joey: (entering with Chandler) Morning. We ready to go?
23. Chandler: Well, don't we look nice all dressed up?...It's stuff like
that, isn't it?
(They all leave.)
(Joey listens to his overcoat for a second and sighs, then notices Chandler
24. Joey: What?
25. Chandler: Nothing, just your overcoat sounds remarkably like Brent
26. Joey: Check it out, Giants-Cowboys. (He has a pocket TV)
27. Chandler: You're watching a football game at a funeral?
28. Joey: No, it's the pre-game. I'm gonna watch it at the reception.
29. Chandler: You are a frightening, frightening man.
30. Phoebe: God, what a great day. ...What? Weather-wise!
31. Ross: I know, uh, the air, the-the trees... even though Nana's gone
there's, there's something almost, uh- I dunno, almost life-aff- (Not
looking where he is going he falls into an open grave)
32. All: God! Ross!
33. Ross: I'm fine. Just-just... having my worst fear realised...
[Scene: The Wake, at the Gellers' house. Ross is lying on his back, with
Phoebe squatting over him, checking to see if he's injured.]
34. Phoebe: Okay, don't worry, I'm just checking to see if the muscle's
35. Ross: What, what is it?
36. Phoebe: You missed a belt loop.
37. Ross: Oh! No-n-
38. Phoebe: Okay, it's in spasm.
39. Phoebe: Hey, look who's up! How do you feel?
40. Ross: I feel great. I feel- great, I fleel great.
41. Monica: Wow, those pills really worked, huh?
42. Ross: Not the first two, but the second two- woooo! ...I love you
guys. You guys are the greatest. I love my sister (Kisses Monica), I love
Pheebs... (Hugs her)
43. Phoebe: Ooh! That's so nice...
44. Ross: ...Chandler!
45. Chandler: Hey.
46. Ross: (hugs him) And listen, man, if you wanna be gay, be gay. Doesn't
matter to me.
47. Andrea: (turns to a friend) You were right. (They walk off and leave
48. Mr. Geller: Whaddya got there?
49. Joey: (hides the TV, but he still has an earphone) Just a, uh... hearing
50. Mr. Geller: What's the score?
51. Joey: Seventeen-fourteen Giants... three minutes to go in the third.
52. Mr. Geller: Beautiful! (Turns to watch with him)
(Time lapse. A large crowd of men are now watching the game)
53. Rachel: (still trapped under Ross) Pheebs, could you maybe hand me
54. Rachel: Hey, who's this little naked guy?
55. Ross: That little naked guy would be me.
56. Rachel: Aww, look at the little thing.
57. Ross: Yes, yes, fine, that is my penis. Can we be grown-ups now?
58. Chandler: Who are those people?
59. Ross: Got me.
60. Monica: Oh, that's Nana, right there in the middle. (Reads the back)
'Me and the gang at Java Joe's'.
61. Rachel: Wow, Monica, you look just like your grandmother. How old
was she there?
63. Monica: Let's see, 1939... yeah, 24, 25?
64. Ross: Looks like a fun gang. (They all look at each other and smile)
65. Joey: Ooh, look-look-look-look-look! I got Monica naked!
66. Ross: (looking) Nono, that would be me again. I'm, uh, just trying
in this Episode.
the entire transcript in Episode #108, there are total about 234 sentences.
61 sentences concern topic of homosexuality. About 18 sentences concern
heterosexual relationships. 89 sentences talk about family affairs. 66
sentences concern friendships among the group members and their friends
outside group. No topic concerns marriage relationships.
considerable part of Friends includes homosexual topics and affairs.
With the series of Friends show goes on, there are many obvious
and less obvious homosexual behaviors introduced by some of the characters
on a regular basis. Included in these are the overtly homosexual relationship
of Chandler and Joey, the same sex marriage of Ross ex-wife and
her new partner, Phoebes green card gay husband who
turns out to be straight, and the revelation that Chandlers father
left his mother for another man.
Episode #108, the homosexual topic is about Chandlers Homosexual
Hair. Compared with other topics, this topic occupies a substantial
part in the whole Episode.
relationships of Friends reinforce the cultural frames of Friends
with a sense that, homosexual desire is a constant and normal phenomenon.
Furthermore, it seems that homosexual desire in itself is not treated
as problematic in the show; therefore, the cultural frames articulated
by Friends could be said to be broadly liberal in nature. For example,
within the first five minutes of the opening episode of Friends
of the first season, the lesbian relationship of Ross ex-wife Carol
and her partner Susan is explored. During the second season of Friends,
Carol and Susan are married in the episode The
One with The Lesbian Wedding There is no discussion between
the other characters in the series regarding the moral acceptability of
this event. It is never questioned that two people of the same gender
can and should marry. It is the same that in Episode #108 that no characters
seem very surprised when they hear that their friend Chandler was mistakenly
thought of as gay. This phenomenon can be explained by the increasing
openness of many lesbians and gays in North American society, resulting
in a greater exposure for many people to the idea of same sex partners.
relationships take only a small proportion of Episode #108. However, they
still remain a large part of the whole show. It seems that unless otherwise
indicated, the state of heterosexuality in Friends is taken for granted.
Therefore, the inclusion of these frequent heterosexual affairs in the
show can be explained as result of the fact that heterosexuality is still
the dominant discourse and norm of North America society. The inclusion
of homerotically inclined characters, which takes on an increasing role
in the show, actively strengthens characters differences to those
already established patterns of behavior. Homosexuality seems already
accepted by most of North Americans as a sub-culture in the large North
America social cultural context.
Episode #108, topic concern about family takes the largest part of the
whole episode. On the contrary, there was no discussion about marriage
relationships. Although there are topics concerning marriage and wedding
in other episodes of Friends, the proportion is small. From this
point of view, I can see that family concept is still a dominant discourse
in North America society. Friends, with comparatively less marriage
relationships, can be explained as young people in North America are so
independent nowadays, that they are not eager to get married. Marriage
becomes such a desirable but also difficult thing to deal with. Although
establishing a good family and having a nice marriage is still in their
hearts, their attitudes towards it become more serious and cautious. Therefore,
we see the story of the Ross and Rachels on and off romance continuing.
topic about friendships among six characters of Friends takes the
second largest position in Episode #108. This finding can be explained
as in a fast-paced modern society like today, marriage and family become
so unstable and fragile. Working pressure and other factors make relationships
among people become quite important. The six young people in Friends
work and live independently in New York, getting the companionship, comfort
and support from each other to be the perfect antidote to the pressures
of life for them.
Herrmann, Do we learn to read television like a kind
of language? http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/sfh9901.html,
Rose, Visual Methodology
Episode #108 script