As is just to be expected, we're all deeply into our Friends frenzy after it's Netflix debut in early January. It sounds almost like overkill at this point, but what can I say? Somehow, Friends has had a large cultural impact that has surreptitiously seeped into our every day lives. And just like you've never seen that "reserved" sign at Central Perk, you've probably never noticed how Friends have influenced us on a societal level.
Of course, the effect pop culture has on real life isn't a major plot twist. We all remember how we were buying up a ton of headbands when Gossip Girl first debuted. To this day, I have 15 Blair Waldorf-inspired hair ornaments and don't know what to do with them.
But, mind you, I'm not just referring to the most glaring trend of the Friends legacy: the one and only Rachel cut. Although it's very cute that a bunch of women in the mid-'90s opted for a layered hairstyle, the influence of Friends permeates deeper than that. Do a little digging and you'll see that it's inspired everything from the shows that we currently watch on television to even the way we say certain things. Oh. My. God.
Lucky for you, I already got my shovel out. Allow me to present to you three other trends that were inspired by Friends.
Our Current Speaking Patterns
You can primarily blame Joey and Chandler for this one. Joey's catchphrase, "How you doin'?" apparently became a legitimate pick-up line and greeting. Meanwhile Chandler's brand of sarcasm, where he would let a sentence trail off for comedic effect, became often imitated, never duplicated. (My brother and I can vouch for this; it's how we communicate with each other these days.)
But the most interesting thing? In a study by the University of Toronto, it was noticed that the characters used "so" the most as an adjective intensify, which means it operates like "very" or "really." Examples: "So cute I'm thinking about jamming this pen in my eye" or "This is so exciting, I haven't seen my monkey in almost a year." It was noted that use of this "so" was accelerated in popular vernacular, possibly as the result of the show's influence.
A Bunch of Babies Named Emma
In 2008, four years after the finale, Emma became the top baby name for girls. Emma, as you remember, is Ross and Rachel's adorable bastard child. Coincidence? Consider this: Emma soared into the top 10 the same year that Rachel gave birth to the child. I'm just saying.
And while there's no technical scientific proof linking the name Emma with Friends, it certainly wouldn't be the first (or last) time popular culture influenced a baby name. Let's never forget that a generation of Twilight-obsessed teen moms probably led to Isabella and Jacob being crowned the go-to nomenclatures of 2010.
An Entire Television Format
Honestly, since Friends debuted in 1994 people tried to capitalize on the success of that format as early as, well, 1995. By September 1995, there were a minimum of nine Friends -inspired sitcoms on major television networks, primarily centered around the trials of singles in a big city. Prior to this, television favored mostly family sitcoms (The Cosby Show, Full House, even the far less saccharine Married...With Children), but Friends changed that game entirely. And honestly, it's a game that's still played today.
How I Met Your Mother is perhaps the greatest imitators, to the point where they even had that stagnating New York apartment to shoot around, but even HBO monoliths like Girls and Sex and the City have that sort of Friends structure. In the case of the latter, Friends received a shout out in the episode "Sex and Another City," when Miranda is talking about friend and sitcom writer Letterman Lew. "He's writing that New York sitcom. The one about the kids who live in a loft," remarks Miranda. "Yeah, one's a feisty waitress," chimes in Carrie. Between that iconic blue apartment and Rachel's gig at Central Perk, this could be ANY post-Friends sitcom. And though Miranda later laments that the idea is "so fake," it's hard to deny that Friends had a real and lasting impact.
Images: NBC, Giphy (3)