“The Rachel” and other cultural impacts

During season 6, Friends aired 8-8:30 on Thursdays on the network NBC. During this time the year was 1999. The 90’s were just starting to wind down but the ratings for friends were certainly not!

Here are the Nielsen Ratings for Friends season 6:

neilson ratings

Friends target audience were mainly 24-54 years old, this is mainly due to the fact that the characters themselves were in their mid-twenties. The characters are adults who are mostly middle class. A few characters like Joey and Phoebe are probably more lower middle class and other characters like Ross and Chandler are upper middle class. The only reason I would say middle class is because they all live in decent size apartments in the middle of Manhattan.

Friends has made quite a cultural impact during the time it was on air. Certain styles, sayings even hair do’s were created based off what was aired on Friends. During the 90’s the hairstyle called “The Rachel” was made based off Rachel Green’s hair. This hairstyle was so popular my mom even got her hair done like that. Certain catch phrases like Joey’s famous “How you doin?” became popular as well. Clothing that the characters wore were typical what was in style during the time, especially Rachel’s. Although Phoebe’s style was more unique. The coffee house that the characters often visit to (Central Perk) has been made in real life by many different imitations throughout the world. Another cultural impact that Friends has made is after 9/11 ratings increased by 17%. This is most likely because Friends is based in New York and viewers most likely turned to Friends as a sort of comic relief.


In the particular episode of season 6 that I watched, “The one with the Joke” Ross submits a joke to Playboy that Chandler insists he made up. Playboy the magazine, is used as an intertexual reference throughout the show. The colors that the characters are wearing are mainly dull dark colors, but when Ross brings the Playboy magazine out, the cover is decorated in bright colors to draw attention to it.


Some social issues that are brought up in this episode are when Phoebe tells Monica that she tends to be high maintenance. Monica spends the episode trying to prove that she isn’t but in the meantime shows that she really is high maintenance. Phoebe also tells Rachel that she tends to be a bit of a pushover. Rachel then tries to prove that she isn’t a pushover but proves otherwise. Rachel and Monica then tell Phoebe that she tends to be flaky and instead of denying it, Phoebe agrees.This is relatable to viewers who tend to have similar personalities.

Another Social issue that was brought up during the episode is Joey losing his job in his acting career. He is having trouble paying his bills, Chandler offers to loan him some money but Joey insists on paying them himself. Gunther talks Joey into working at the Central Perk to earn some extra cash in the mean time. Joey is hesitant in doing do because he goes to the Central Perk often with his friends. This is something that viewers can relate to who are in or have been in similar financial situations.

The expected reaction from the audience is laughter mostly because its a sitcom. There are a few moments with Chandler and Monica that can make the audience go “awww” as well.

The indoor sets look very realistic for setting. Monica’s apartment contains lots of different colors and different furniture pieces. This is to be expected for someone who is young and on their own in their first apartment. Phoebe’s apartment has different art pieces and is very unique like her character. Joey’s apartment is plain and simple, it doesn’t contain too many decorations like the girl’s apartments do. It does contain two stuffed animals and a CD case which is very fitting for Joey’s character. The furniture is very fitting for the time period of the show as well.


The characters seem very realistic and all 6 have dept to their character especially in season 6. From the beginning when the show first started each character established a personality and stuck with it. Phoebe is the more free spirited one, Monica is the tidy mom of the group, Rachel is the innocent spoiled fashionista, Chandler is the sarcastic funny one, Joey loves women and food, and Ross is very emotional and intelligent all in one.

The music that is displayed in the episode is in between scenes to transition into the next scene. They are mainly just short guitar strums to keep the viewer watching and interested in the next scene. The shots are for the most part medium shots but occasionally long shots will be used to show everyone in the scene. Close up shots are used to show one of the characters reaction to something someone said.The lighting is bright, all of the rooms are well lit all over, especially right over the characters. This sets a more up beat happy type of mood.

An example of subtext used in this episode is a scene towards the end of the episode when Rachel is yelling at Gunther saying he should give Joey his job back. Gunther quickly agrees before Rachel can even finish speaking. Rachel then proudly walks back over to the couch and says “Now whose a push over”. Phoebe then walks up to Rachel and says “Rach you’re in my seat”. Rachel quickly gets up and says “I’m sorry” and moves to a different seat. The subtext in this scene is that Rachel tried to prove she wasn’t a pushover but as soon as Phoebe came over and told her to move, Rachel didn’t put up a fight. This shows that Rachel is still a pushover despite her yelling at Gunther.

A product placement that I noticed in this episode were a box of Oreo O’s on top of Joey’s fridge. I think the producers put the Oreo’s in a perfect spot. They are clearly visible but not in a very obvious way. The Oreo O’s say that the intended audience is pretty much any american in general, maybe marketed towards the younger adults.


Overall the producers and cast did a great job making the episode look and seem realistic. The cast stay in their character throughout the entire show and portray their characters as real people. The producers tied the sets in nicely as well making them seem life-like, especially for 1999.



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