Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 24, 2017

#10- Friends and Philosophy, 1st Installment

Caroline Hollander
Section 10
1st Installment
Friends and Philosophy
After hearing a group present their midterm report on Seinfeld and Philosophy, I was inspired to write about one of the most comforting shows to me, Friends. I searched for the actual book, however it doesn’t exist. Nonetheless, regardless of Friends silly and lighthearted themes, I have found Friends has made me think about morality, purpose, and of course, relationships, which I believe will always be a huge part of philosophy.
The show Friends centers around six characters: Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey. Similar to Seinfeld, the show really is about “nothing.” Friends takes place mainly in two or three rooms, and follows the lives of the group as they grow into adults. Each friend is characterized by specific mindsets, and as each character develops those mindsets change and alter. In the pilot episode, the characters stick pretty closely to their specific traits. Rachel, a rich, spoiled, “daddy’s girl” who ditches a man at the alter and decides she wants to be independent. Ross, a PHD in paleontology, moody and depressed, dumped by his pregnant, lesbian wife, and madly in love with Rachel since high school. Monica, a clean freak to say the least, and an inner fat kid who constantly feels like a disappointment compared to her big brother, Ross. Chandler, a deeply sarcastic, distant and walled guy, who hides his pain of his childhood in humor. And finally, Joey, a seemingly shallow, yet lovable, want-to-be-actor who gets all the ladies. Throughout the seasons, though, each character begins developing and changing as any 20-something year old would.
The show follows these six young adults as they try and figure out how to pay rent, how to like your job, how to do relationships, how to do breakups, and just how to get along with each other. The show is near to my heart because I grew up with it always on in the background, however as I got older and moved out, the show took on a whole new level of meaning for me. Although I don’t know any 20-something year old who could pay rent in New York City with a coffee shop job, the show reminds young adults that growing up is hard, and struggling with regular things like paying rent and relationships is normal. Friend’s is comforting in nature because it is (to a degree) relatable.
One of the big philosophical questions we are always asking is, what’s my purpose, is there such thing as purpose, what is really and truly meaningful? I think Friend’s attempts to answer these questions in its own silly, lighthearted way. Specifically, Rachel goes on a journey to really figure out what makes her happy, career wise. This struggle is very real for college students, and Friends shows the nitty gritty realities of this endeavor. From working at coffee shop, to walking an arthritic seamstress to the restroom, Rachel encountered the dead-end jobs that we all have. Though the show follows each character’s struggle with career, I think it always eludes to a more meaningful point: people, and relationships, matter more. The entire show, even the title “Friends”, points to this truth. The opening scene is all of them in a coffee shop, the end scene is all of them in the apartment. The whole show, while showing the daily, real struggles of young adults, always points to this idea that people matter more. Through makeups and breakups and marriage and death and even new life, the Friends are always friends. This idea is critical to me, that regardless of the many questions I am seeking answers to, the people in my life make the search not only enjoyable, but worth it. 


  1. I like how you used what you learned from someone else's project to fuel you on this. You made some really valid connections. I can't wait to read the 2nd installment.

  2. "people, and relationships, matter more. The entire show, even the title “Friends”, points to this truth" - maybe you can illustrate this with one of your favorite video clips? Some quotes of dialogue? And talk about what philosophers like Aristotle and Epicurus have said about the importance of friendship?

  3. I enjoyed how you related the struggles associated the show with reality of how we all are currently (anyone in their early 20's especially) grinding though our own struggles of maintaining school, work, and friendships as we attempt to perceive what our purpose is along the way.