Last week, social media went into a tizzy sharing a column by David Hopkins on How a TV Sitcom Triggered The Downfall of Western Civilisation. The show being FRIENDS. I take that piece personally. Not because I love the series, but because the points he raises, are well… pointless.
The writer believes, “The show signals a harsh embrace of anti-intellectualism in America, where a gifted and intelligent man is persecuted by his idiot compatriots.” The more this article was shared, the more it annoyed me. Are we really that starved for a point of view that we accept anything that comes in the form of one? No one questioned it. Everyone just seemed to accept it like it was the 10 commandments. I not only think this theory is weak, i reject it.
The article says, “Friends audience — roughly 52.5 million people — turned on Ross. Because all the characters of the show were pitted against him from the beginning.” I don’t know if the writer of the show saw the same show as me but none of the characters of the show were “pitted” against him. Think about it and you’ll agree that every character on the show was made fun of in equal measure. Isn’t that what friends do? Even if what the writer says is true, and Ross was picked on, in every group, isn’t there one guy who is always at the receiving end of most jokes? That’s just an evening out with your squad, not a statement on civilisation being at an all-time low.
The writer took on the most successful show in television history to explain his bizarre personal point of view. In 2004, when the show was launched, he was a teacher who coached the school’s chess club, and he saw how his students were picked on and bullied. I find the comparison ludicrous. Were his students being picked on because of Ross being a geek? No. Ross was a geek and so he was being picked on. The writers of the show were inspired from real life. Not vice versa. In schools and colleges around the world, it’s jocks vs the nerds.
I really have a problem with film and TV being blamed for the state of the world or society. In my opinion, art imitates life more often than life imitates art. Most film and TV content reflects what is happening around us. Sex and violence on the big screen and small is often citied as the cause of all the crime in the world. But fact is, far more gruesome crimes are committed in the real world than you see on screen.
And for those of you still feeling bad for Ross/geeks, there’s always the satisfaction of knowing that in the end, the nerds always win. In real and reel life. And what more proof you need that in 2004 Friends had one geek character. In 2007 The Big Bang Theory was launched with four geeks (Ross multiplied) as protagonists. They survived. They are flourishing and they have hot girlfriends. Aren’t you feeling bad for Racheal, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler and Joey now?