Why can’t we be Friends?

I continue my blogs with what many consider even to this day their favorite show of all time: Friends. This cult classic started in 1994 and ran until 2004 and led to the creation of superstars such as Jennifer Aniston. Over these 10 years Friends targeted many social issues such as condom use while also being a family friendly show. For the sake of this blog post I will try to only look at 90s era Friends episodes though how the television show evolves over time is important.
I will be describing one the most iconic storylines in Friends history: WE WERE ON A BREAK! This line is one of the best known from the film franchise and focuses on another important topic when looking at femininity in the 90s: the different meaning of words between males and females. The book A Cultural Approach to Interpersonal Communication has a section titled A Cultural Approach to Male-Female Miscommunication discusses this exact problem when looking specifically at American society.
To give context to the scene, Ross and Rachel are having a rough patch in their relationship to which Rachel recommends they “take a break.” Ross takes this to mean they relax and cool off such as going to get frozen yogurt but Rachel replies that she means a break from each other. While Rachel means she wants some space from Ross to think about their relationship while still being committed to each other, Ross takes this to mean they are broken up. During this time Ross sleeps with another woman and then famously exclaims to Rachel who is upset about the news “we were on a break!” This leads to many other characters throughout the show making comments to both Ross and Rachel about the events surrounding their break and taking up different viewpoints.
When looking at this scene I would take Rachel’s side since I believe the couple had not officially broken up while when I asked my boyfriend he was on Ross’ side of the argument. When looking at this in the context of the 1990s I think this had the possibility to shape the lingo of girls and boys who watched the show. Since Friends aired every week those who watched the show often could easily pick up on the words used in the series and then add them to their own vocabulary thus using it in the same meaning as their favorite characters.
This example is something I also plan to look further into during my paper and see how different words have different meanings to males and females since the book I linked above had a lot of relevant information that could be used when looking at 1990s television. I also plan to look at other television shows and see if there are linguistic trends that can be traced between them in regards to femininity and relationships during this time period.