Jun 13, 2011

Real Books in F.R.I.E.N.D.S!

I don't really like when books are put into television episodes or movies just for the sake of being there, because that makes no sense.  Like when a character randomly states that they like a book.  Who cares?  When a book is actually incorporated into the plot is when it counts.  It happens a lot in some of my favorite shows.  Coincidence? I think not.  So here's a list of my favorite inclusions of real books in episodes of probably my favorite TV show of all time: "F.R.I.E.N.D.S." 

F.R.I.E.N.D.S: Real Books

1+2. Little Women and The Shining
This is my personal favorite.  Joey and Rachel make a deal to trade their favorite books: The Shining and Little Women respectively.  Before she begins The Shining, Joey cautions Rachel that it's a scary book she might not be able to handle.  His secret to overcoming the fear: putting the book in the freezer.  It turns out that Joey can't handle the terrors of Little Women either.  He finds Beth's imminent death too tough to take, landing Rachel's copy of the Louisa May Alcott classic in the freezer.  Sidenote, when attempting to describe The Shining without using spoilers, Joey quotes: "All blank and no blank makes blank a blank blank."  That "quote" doesn't actually appear in the book.  It's only in the movie version...

3 + 4. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre
"Feminism, yes, but also the robots!"
Phoebe, having never gone to high school, feels like she missed out on one of the major life experiences.  She also had a blast with her Lamaze class and wants to try something "with a less painful final exam."  Understandable, seeing as she pushed out three kids, they weren't even hers, and her doctor was obsessed with The Fonz.  So she signs up for a literature class with Rachel.  Phoebe gets really into the first book they read, Wuthering Heights, figuring out that the moors are a symbol that reflect the wildness of Heathcliff's character.  Rachel didn't read the book and steals Phoebe's ideas in class, leaving Phoebe to look like a fool.  When Rachel reads a new Vogue issue instead of Jane Eyre, Phoebe gets her revenge by telling Rachel that Jane Eyre is a cyborg and that the book was "lightyears ahead of its time."  I wish they included the scene where Rachel apparently likens Jane Eyre to Robocop.

5. The "V" Encyclopedia Volume
Most sitcoms have to have their one stock dumb, but loveable character.  Joey fills that role on Friends, though he wasn't that daft in the earlier seasons.  Regardless, he's sick of feeling left out of the loop when his friends discuss world events and he wants to join in on the conversation.  So when Penn of Penn and Teller drops by to sell encyclopedias, Joey is fascinated with the V volume and is luckily wearing Chandler's pants, in which he finds $50.  He buys the volume and prepares to wow his friends with his new knowledge of volcanoes, vivisection, vas deferens, and the Vietnam War, but is left out once again when the conversation steers toward the Korean war. 

6. A Tale of Two Cities
Ahh Joey being clueless again.  Joey gets a callback for a musical rendition of A Tale of Two Cities, not realizing that it's a Dickens classic.  In choosing his two cities, he decides he's going to sing "New York, New York" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."  Ross has to tell him that he doesn't get to choose.  And then we for some reason get treated to a song from the musical "Oliver!" and this amazing dance:

7. Chicken Soup for the Soul
Chandler can't cry. Nothing can bring him to tears, not "E.T.", "Bambi", a three legged puppy, a three legged puppy who can talk, or pictures from his childhood.  Even the thought of his wife dying and leaving him a note from beyond the grave that tells him how much she loves him doesn't make him teary.  In an effort to prove that he's not a robot or dead inside, he tries to secretly read Chicken Soup for the Soul to induce the tears.  But the sappy series doesn't do him any good; it's only when Ross and Rachel have one of their "Ross and Rachel" moments that finally bring on the waterworks.  

8. I Love You Forever
Ugh. This book.  Joey didn't get a present for Emma's first birthday and needs something fast.  Phoebe wrote her a song (barely), so Joey decides to put his "talent" to good use (not hitting on her, as Phoebe first suspects) and do a dramatic reading of Emma's favorite book.  His success, if bringing everyone to tears can be counted as a success, makes Phoebe's song look more horrific than it actually is and eventually causes her to follow in his steps and do her own dramatic reading.  Only problem is, she reaches for Sex and the Single Mother

Did I miss any?

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