FRIENDS: Narrative structure

FRIENDS is a classic sitcom that builds up the story throughout an episode.

On episode 9 of season 6, the show starts off with a scene before the credits with Monica mashing mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, as Chandler walks in. Monica breaks the news that her parents will be coming and a conflict arises that she hasn’t told her parents that her and Chandler are together due to the fact that her parents don’t like Chandler. This is used as a hook to keep viewers watching as the opening credits roll through.

The first scene is introduced with an upbeat guitar sound, setting the mood to be joyful. The credits appear on the bottom of the screen in all capital letters and in the same font as the FRIENDS logo.

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The credits roll through on the bottom on the screen for about a minute as the next scene continues on. In this scene Joey and Ross are invited to a party by Joey’s roommate. Ross and Joey really want to go but are conflicted because its Thanksgiving and they already promised Monica to eat at her place. Throughout this scene we see mostly medium shots but some close up shots are also used to show the reaction of characters. The credits are done rolling through before the scene is even finished.

 

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Events throughout the show occur simultaneously and there are multiple stories going on in this one episode.  The events go as following:

  • Monica breaks the news that her parents don’t like Chandler and she’s unsure why. Because of this reason she hasn’t told them about their relationship.
  • Opening Credits
  • Joey and Ross get invited to Joey’s roommates party & are conflicting on going.
  • Rachel is assigned to make a dessert for Thanksgiving but isn’t good at cooking/baking.
  • The Gellers show up and Chandler tries hard to win them over but fails miserably.
  • Rachel makes her English trifle dessert…with beef and peas.
  • Joey and Ross are in a rush to leave but need to eat Rachel’s dessert in order to do so.
  • Joey and Ross discover that the cook book had two pages stuck together; English trifle and Sheppard’s pie.
  • Phoebe tells Rachel about her dream of Monica and Ross’s dad Jack Geller.
  • Ross confesses to Chandler that his parents caught him smoking weed in college and he blamed it on him, which is why his parent’s don’t like Chandler.
  • Everyone sits down and pretends to like Rachel’s trifle so her feelings aren’t hurt.
  • The trifle is awful as expected.
  • Monica tells her parents about Ross smoking weed in college.

*All at once the stories tie in together.*

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  • Ross brings up Monica breaking the porch swing not hurricane Gloria.
  • Monica brings up Ross’s 3rd marriage/divorce with Rachel (his parents do not know).
  • Ross then yells that Monica and Chandler are living together.
  • Rachel realizes that she wasn’t supposed to put beef in the trifle.
  • Phoebe yells out that she loves Jack.
  • Finally Joey yells that he wants to go.
  • Monica and Ross’s mother yells at everyone but Chandler and actually praises him.

At the end of the episode there is closure for the next episode. There is also a beginning, middle and end to this episode. The different story lines are broken up within each other to sort of build off of one another. There was a delay to each story line to keep the viewer interested on what would happen next to that particular character. For instance, with Rachel we saw in the beginning that she was making a dessert. It was hinted in the first scene with her that she may screw it up. As the episode continued on the suspense of how her dessert would turn out grew. When it was revealed in the middle of the episode that she included beef in the dessert, Rachel still had no idea she messed up the dessert. This kept the story going until the end of the episode when she finally realized she messed up.

The enigma at the beginning of the show would be the reason behind why Monica’s parents don’t like Chandler, if Joey and Ross will end up going to the party, and how Rachel’s dessert will turn out. The resolution is in the last few scenes when it is revealed to Monica’s parents about Ross and Rachel discovers her dessert was not intended to include beef. The only story line that didn’t have a resolution was if Ross and Joey ever ended up going to the party.

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In the last scene with everyone yelling at one-another the camera shots still remain medium shots. Throughout the episode close up and full shots will be shown sporadically.

The show in general could be considered a hybrid genre. Not in this episode particularly but in certain episodes there are some dramatic scenes that could make it like a drama at times. For instance in season two when Ross and Rachel break up it is a very dramatic episode. Drama is important here and there in this series to add dept and defines the characters more if they show a serious side now and then. By adding drama it also creates story lines.

The audience expectations for watching this show is mostly comedy and when there is drama it changes the whole feel of the show.

In the closing credits it ends with Monica’s parents hugging Chandler as the camera is at a full body shot showing the rest of the characters in the scene as well. There is laughter coming from the audience and in the middle of the screen shows the directors names covering the scene. It is in a large white font, the same style as it is in the opening credits. The music playing is the theme song with just the instrumentals.

Overall the episode is tied together nicely and tells the story well. It keeps viewers enticed by changing between story lines. The scenes build off of each other and in the end it ties together nicely .

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