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A little oldie but definitely goodie: The sitcom “Friends”

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shlomif
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Hi all,

 

from speaking with many of what we traditionally call Objectivists who have read the books by Ayn Rand or perhaps more Neo-Objectivist compilations, I understood that they dismiss http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends as a funny but pointless popular and cheesy American sitcom that was not worth watching. Having seen a few episodes of Friends and becoming hooked (watched the first three seasons, and some of the last seasons after the show became better again), and becoming hooked, and being a big fan of the Objectivist philosophy, which I learned about from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_R._Wallace (which was something truly eye-opening, but now I find many faults with it), I still considered Friends as very funny and "light-thinking" entertainment that I looked forward to watching week after week.

 

So consider my surprise when one of my Internet correspondents (a very nice guy, who contributed to some Perl projects, but who was immersed in minutae of global politics, graduated with a degree in history, and expressed many Kantian sentiments) told me that it was one of the most immoral shows on T.V. A silly comedy! And as far as the Kantian “ethics” are concerned he was right - it was immoral and unethical and Evil and everything else.

 

Fact of the matter is that despite obvious apperances to the contrary, I believe that Friends was a superb show, whose ethical mission was to ultimately and permanently kill the Judeo-Christian ethics, and replace them with a “new and better world order”. As much as freedom of expression and the arts is to be encouraged, Ayn Rand wrote in her diary (quoted in a new edition Atlas Shrugged) that truly great art requires a good philosophical foundation, and to quote the late http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Peter_Ustinov - Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious. (sorr y for the bold - paste fail).

 

Without further ado, here are some of my favourite Friends sub-plots:

 

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- the classical "Only one woman" skits from the pilot  (YouTube gives me it with Hebrew subtitles - sorry about that).

 

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- Phoebe and Joey about “unselfish good deeds” (low quality)

 

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- Phoebe and Ross argue about evolution (the comments there are surprisingly intelligent)

 

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- Rachel and Phoebe get tattoos.

 

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Now for some shameless self-promotion: I've written a screenplay for a parody of The Fountainhead modelled around a two-part episode of Friends - http://www.shlomifish.org/humour/TOWTF/ , where the six friends role-play their own version of The Fountainhead, hoping to improve it. Both people who either have not read the book, or only watched the show have enjoyed it,and I consider it my funniest and most politically-incorrect piece yet.

 

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In any case, Friends is an incredible Television show, and it's amazing how much of its subtlety I missed when I was younger and less conscious of the philosophy I have now. I have a notion that it was the last truly subversive and cutting edge sitcom on Television television, and after which the really funny stuff has increasingly been found in a lot of random and “amateurish” videos on YouTube and other video-sharing sites.

 

Regards,

 

-- Shlomi Fish

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