Wednesday, 8 February 2012

That One Friends Episode Where They Read Some Books and Stuff

So, you know that episode of Friends where Joey and Rachel switch their favourite books (or, more specifically, the books they've each read more than once), and even though it's not the main storyline of that episode, it's still the bit that I (and probably you, because hey! You're reading a book blog!) remember best from it. The more I think about it, though, the more I really really really love it, only I also kind of doubt its realism, considering the characters involved.

I mean, think about it. It's Joey and Rachel. Has anyone ever seen them read anything, apart from in this episode? I think Joey reads some kind of car magazines sometimes, and Rachel reads, I don't know, Vogue; but there's really not a lot of evidence of any other reading in their lives. Rachel can't even be bothered to read books when she voluntarily signs up for an English class (Remember?! Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre? Cyborgs?!) and Joey is, well, Joey. He goes into libraries so he can use the bathroom, not so that he can experience the wonders of the reading world. Suffice to say, they're not the most bookish of all the Friends crew (in fact, I'd say, they're the least).

But that's ok, because I guess what they're reading isn't all that deep and difficult- Rachel's favourite book is Little Women, which is presumably a leftover from childhood; and Joey's is The Shining, which is presumably because of the movie, which is, by the way, a mockery of the book, albeit a really good movie on its own ("Chandler: Joey's asking if you've just ruined the only book he's ever loved that didn't star Jack Nicholson."- It disturbs me that I didn't even have to check that quote. Damn.) And, whilst when I watched it the first hundred times, I pretty much decided that Little Women was definitely the best, because The Shining a) sounded scary, and b) was clearly a boy book; now I really don't know whose side I'd be on! Let's face it, they're both awesome.

The episode is riddled with inaccuracies though, mainly because I'm not entirely sure the writers had read The Shining, and had maybe just seen the movie. I'm saying this because they reference the 'All Work and No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy', which only happens in the movie, and the two dead girls in the hallway, AND he describes the end differently to how it is in the book too. It's a little irritating, but I didn't know any different when I watched it when I was younger. What really did annoy me was the things they said about Little Women- that Laurie marries Amy and that Beth dies! Nonsense, I thought: Amy's still a child when Little Women ends, and Beth is fine- her dad comes home and she's all happy and stuff. I honestly held onto this illusion until I saw the movie like 3 years ago, and I was horrified by the second part of Little Women- I apparently had some idea of how I hoped things would turn out between all the characters, and that just wasn't it! So then I decided to believe the movie was wrong, until I read Good Wives about a year later, and figured out that the two books are probably published together in the US, and so Rachel was right all along. Damn.

Having rewatched this episode, I now realise how little of it this skit takes up (it's literally the third, and I'd say smallest, storyline) and yet it's one that has remained in my imagination a lot longer than the other two, which isn't something I'd often say about Friends. I'm thinking that the combination of them a) talking about books at all, and b) talking about 1, and then later 2, of my favourite books; really made this whole thing stick in my brain, while much more important information was (probably) flying out to wherever such things go. Either way, this remains one of my favourite ever subplots, and its nice to see non-typical readers reading, especially when the books involved are so great. Friends wins at being awesome, yet again!

18 comments:

  1. I just did really loud HA remembering the whole film/good wives thing.

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    1. BETH DOESN'T DIE AND LAURIE DOESN'T MARRY AMY! Oh, shit!

      I rewatched this episode the other day (after I wrote this post, which makes a whole lot of sense) and they keep saying that Jo has a crush on Laurie, and that Jo doesn't marry him even though she still loves him- No! Jo never loved him like that! Jo clearly couldn't have sex with Laurie cause that would be WEIRD!

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  2. *stares, uncomprehending*

    *looks up Little Women on Wikipedia*

    "The first volume Little Women was an immediate commercial and critical success, prompting the composition of the book's second volume titled Good Wives, which was successful as well. The publication of the book as a single volume first occurred in 1880 and was titled Little Women"

    GASP. Yes, they're always issued here as just Little Women. But I have now learned something new.

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    1. I vaguely recall this episode. Was the same one where they kept the books in the freezer because they didn't want to confront the ending? Somehow I thought it was Little Women and Old Yeller that were the books exchanged. I forgot all about The Shining.

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    2. Old Yeller is the episode where we find out that Phoebe's mother stopped sad movies right before the ending, so that she would never have to deal with the sad par (but then, oh yeah, Phoebe's mom kills herself and forces Phoebe in to the worst-bad-ending imaginable!).

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    3. @Reading Rambo- Yay learning! I now have the Little Women all in one thing, BUT for many many many years I did just believe that Beth was fine, and Amy was still an annoying kind, and that the book ended after their father came home, SO imagine my shock when I realised that was not the case! I'm still not over it!

      @Crowe- They did keep putting the books in the freezer! It was fun. And, yeah, Adam's covered the Old Yeller thing.

      @Adam- Ah, love that irony... Poor Phoebe (I also love how she watched Its A Wonderful Life and turned it off *before* the end because it was so awful and depressing- I watched it for the first time this Christmas, and MAN do I know how she felt!)

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  3. LOL I love this episode. Rachel reading on the couch with a potato masher or something next to her cause she was scared is just too funny. I wanna go watch Friends now...

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    1. YES, and she brandishes it at Monica when she comes in because, hello, scary! I wouldn't want to read The Shining if I was all alone in a house though, believe me!

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  4. Friends might be my all-time favorite sitcom. (Tied with Cosby Show.) The episode you mentioned is one of my favorites! And you're right - the Little Women books were published as one in the US. I've never read The Shining, though I have seen the movie, so I wasn't aware of the discrepancies you cited. Good to know! Regardless, awesome episode for sure! I always laugh so hard when Rachel is in the English class and Pheobe is feeding her all the wrong info.

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    1. Friends is the BEST! Like, I can't think of anyone who doesn't like it, and if they don't, it's probably more of a snobbery thing than anything else! Also, you should read The Shining! It really is pretty different from the movie though, so be prepared for that!

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  5. LOL I love this episode!! Although there is another book that we learn of through friends...Rachel's "Dirty Book" alluding to Chimney Sweeper. :) I always get a good laugh out of these two and the idea of them actually reading these books.

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    1. Oh yes! The Vicar! Hehehehe. There's also an episode where Phoebe sings in a library, ooh, and that one where no one can sleep and there's that book that looks really boring on the cover but is actually really good! Ok, I may have over-exaggerated the lack of books in Friends!

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  6. Oh no, I'm American and I had the volume-one-only paperback of Little Women (yeah, where it ends all nicely?) and was sincerely troubled to learn of the whole Jo/Laurie/Amy thing when I was an adult. Probably thanks to the film adaptation. I must have had the only copy in the US that didn't have the Good Wives portion included!

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    1. You really must have! But I'm so glad it's not just me who had the whole 'what the HELL?!' revelation! I mean, I didn't even fully support the Jo and Laurie having a romantic relationship thing, but I think I just assumed that they MUST get married just because they're such a lovely pair :)

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    2. Yeah, I had real issues with Amy after finding this out. Frankly, I probably still do. Beth dying sadly didn't shock me all that much. I mean, she was sickly the whole first volume and nearly died there too. But Amy marrying Laurie? Brat.

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  7. I love that Joey puts the book in the freezer when he's not reading it because that'll stop the Shining (and later Little Women) from getting him. Or whatever it was he thought it would do.

    I can't actually remember anything about that episode other than the book part. Which is clearly the best part of the episode that I don't remember!

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    1. Clearly, CLEARLY the best part! Of many episodes! I love the putting the book in the freezer for protection, and while I've never done it, I will admit that I've definitely looked at some Stephen King books uneasily at night sometimes... Still haven't put them in the freezer though, because I do think that would make them kind of soggy!

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  8. Hahaha, this is one of my favorite Friends episodes. I love when Joey is about half done Little Women and has to start over because he thought that Jo was a boy and Laurie was a girl.

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