‘Friends’ TV Show’s New Generation Of Diehard Fans, And What This Means For Seinfeld

Friends fans: if you don’t want to feel old, then feel free to look away right now.

Last month, September, 2015, marked 21 years since Friends debuted on NBC.

[Ouch, that one hurt, I know. I was an original Friends viewer, too.]

Friends was such an instant success that it accumulated fans exponentially, with many people who were die-hard Friends fans at the beginning still claiming a love for the hit TV show even today. For those people, the fact that some people didn’t like the show and chose to not watch it borders on the ridiculous.

Friends brought with it its own fashion trends: most notably the Rachel haircut, but even other clothing and style choices made by the six main stars of the show, often swept their way around the globe shortly after being shown on TV.

Even Courteney Cox as Monica made fashion trends with her various sweater choices throughout the ten seasons of Friends, particularly the first few years.

But while most current Friends fans are those of us who delighted in watching our favorite characters and storylines unfold week by week and talking about it at school and work the following day, it seems that Friends is acquiring a new generation of diehard fans.

The New York Times reported that it is now New York teenagers that are most identifying with the show, and are adapting Friends‘ trademark vernacular to everyday usage.

“If you are somewhere between 13 and 20… and particularly if you live in New York, you may find yourself very much in the Friends zone.”

And it is the Friends vernacular that is most reeling in New York teenagers, the New York Times posits. The Chicago Tribune referred to an anthropological study undertaken at the University of Toronto back in 2005, where researcher Chris Roberts watched every episode of the first eight seasons of Friends and made a note of every time that one of the six main characters used an intensifier: words used to emphasise an adjective, such as “so,” “really,” and “very.”

A previous study of intensifiers in British English showed that the word “really” was used 30 percent of the time, with “so” being used 10 percent of the time, and “pretty” and “absolutely” being used approximately 3 percent of the time each.

But Chris Roberts’ study of the Friends vernacular showed a very different story. He observed that the word “so” was used 45 percent of the time, followed by “really” being used 25 percent of the time, with “very” being used 15 percent of the time. “Pretty” came in at 6 percent, with “totally” being used 2 percent of the time.

Chris Roberts’ professor, sociolinguist Sali Tagliamonte, likened the differing use of intensifiers throughout the Friends TV show to Rachel’s haircut itself.

“I think the movement is towards a new intensifier. Either the Friends actors pushed it, or maybe they just picked up on it in vernacular culture and used it. This is just speculation. If they can influence how everybody wore their hair, why not intensifiers?”

Back in the heyday of Friends, many Friends fans had to argue the same old Friends vs Seinfeld argument again and again, but it seems that Seinfeld has not had even a quarter of the longevity that Friends enjoyed, according to the New York Times.

“On Facebook, more than 19 million people like Friends, nearly four times as many as like Seinfeld.”

[Photo: Sony Pictures, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0]