10 Best Pop Culture References In Friends (That New Fans Might Not Get) – Collider

One of the greatest shows referencing some of the greatest movies and shows!
We, the die-hard fans, still watch the innumerable amusing and beloved episodes of the popular NBC sitcom Friends when in need of a good chuckle. The program lasted for ten seasons and has continued to flourish in pop culture to this day.
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Moreover, the show is not only a popular culture in and of itself, but it also contains numerous references to popular culture from the previous century, which may appeal to many people from that time period. Some of those references may seem confusing to many young people watching Friends in 2022, but they were actually big hits at the time. Consequently, this article will assist in explaining some of the pop culture references used in the show.
In season 5, episode 3, “The One Hundredth”, when Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) was giving birth to her half-brother Frank Buffay Jr.’s (Giovanni Ribisi) triplets as a surrogate, she is accompanied by a doctor who is enamored with the TV show Happy Days and constantly makes references to Fonzie a.k.a The Fonz (Henry Winkler), a fictional character in the show.
Happy Days is an American television sitcom that debuted on the ABC network in 1974 and ran for 10 years. The show provided an idealized version of society in the Midwest throughout the 1950s and the early 1960s and starred Ron Howard, Anson Williams, and Marion Ross. Despite the fact that the episode was funnier because of the allusion, many viewers who are not familiar with the show cannot fully comprehend the humor.
The iconic outfit worn by actress Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in the 1983 Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi is referred to as Princess Leia's golden bikini (also known as Princess Leia's metal bikini). George Lucas founded the American epic space opera multimedia franchise known as Star Wars, which debuted with the 1977 release of the same-named movie and swiftly gained acclaim on a global scale.
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People who are unaware of Princess Leia or the original trilogy will likely find it difficult to understand the reference or the impact it has on pop culture as a whole. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) turns Ross' (David Schwimmer) vision become reality in season 3, episode 1, aptly titled "The One With The Princess Leia Fantasy," by donning the iconic outfit.
In season 6, episode 14, “The One Where Chandler Can't Cry”, the gang discovered a film called Lawrence of A Labia allegedly starring Phoebe, but it was later revealed that the star was Ursula (Kudrow), Phoebe's twin. This title is a reference to the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O'Toole, which received widespread acclaim from critics.
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Based on T. E. Lawrence's life and his 1926 book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic historical drama film that covers Lawrence's exploits in the Ottoman regions of Hejaz and Greater Syria during the First World War, including his raids on Aqaba and Damascus and his participation in the Arab National Council.
In the same episode, the gang also discovers a collection of adult films titled Buffay the Vampire Layer, which was also produced by Ursula. Apparently, this title is a reference to the Sarah Michelle Gellar-starring television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American supernatural drama TV series that was developed by writer and director Joss Whedon. The narrative of the show follows Buffy Summers, who is selected by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and other demonic forces. However, Buffy initially wishes to lead a regular life, but as the series goes on, she comes to accept her fate.
It’s common knowledge for Friends fans that Baywatch is Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Joey’s (Matt LeBlanc) favorite TV show. In the show’s Pilot episode, John Allen Nelson, best known for his role as the sketchy former lifeguard John D. Cort in Baywatch, guest starred as Monica’s (Courtney Cox) date, Paul the Wine Guy. Nelson's appearance was thought to be a premonition of Baywatch becoming Joey and Chandler's favorite show in Friends.
Baywatch is an action drama TV series that chronicles the life of the lifeguards who patrol the congested beaches of Los Angeles County, California. With almost 1.1 billion viewers, Baywatch holds the record for being the most viewed television program ever, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
In season 1, episode 4, “The One With George Stephanopoulos”, when Ross was struck in the face by a hockey puck at Madison Square Garden during the hockey game, the guys had to go to the emergency room. "I thought you were great in Silence of the Lambs," Chandler stated to Ross after he had a piece of steel wrapped around his nose.
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The Silence of the Lambs is a psychological horror movie released in 1991 and based on Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel of the same name. The movie follows a young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) who has to consult the cannibalistic serial killer and psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to catch another killer called Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine). Thus, Chandler is reminded of Lecter's infamous mask by Ross' bandage over his nose.
Weekend at Bernie’s is a 1989 black comedy film that is partially based on Jorge Amado’s 1959 novella The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell. In the movie, Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman play two young insurance company employees who visit their boss Bernie's house and learn that he has passed away.
Despite the fact that the critics weren't fans of the film, it was a major box office hit the year it was released. The movie’s reference appeared in Friends’ season 4, episode 12, “The One With The Embryos” with a full-fledged trivia game with personal questions regarding who knows more about whom. Weekend at Bernie’s is the answer to the paraphrased question “What is Rachel’s favorite movie?”
In episode 18 of season 1, “The One With All The Poker,” during the gang’s Pictionary night, even though Monica gave a blatantly obvious drawing of Bye Bye Birdie, none of them guessed correctly.
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Bye Bye Birdie is a 1963 American musical romantic comedy film that was directed by George Sidney and was based on the book of the same name by Michael Stewart. The story of Elvis Presley being enlisted in the American Army in 1957 served as the basis for the tale. The movie reached number 38 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies in 2006, making it a prominent culture that few people in this day and age are familiar with.
After the gang struggles to identify Monica's clue of "Bye Bye Birdie" in the aforementioned episode in season 1 of the show, Rachel sketches a bean, and Joey immediately recognizes The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book by Milan Kundera which is also a 1988 movie adaptation.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being depicts the creative and intellectual life in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring as well as how the communist persecution brought on by the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 affected the main characters. The critics gave the movie great marks, and it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Based on Paul Gallico's 1969 novel of the same name, The Poseidon Adventure is Ronald Neame's 1972 American catastrophe movie. The movie centers on the fictional SS Poseidon, an old luxury liner making its last trip from New York City to Athens before being demolished. A tsunami causes it to capsize on New Year's Day, trapping the passengers and crew onboard while a preacher makes an attempt to guide a small handful of survivors to safety.
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In Friends’ 17th episode of season 3, “The One Without The Ski Trip”, Chandler was so anxious that chose to dance to relieve everyone's tension when they were debating whether Rachel and Ross were on the break. Chandler, however, was forced to awkwardly inform Ross that he was being Shelly Winters from The Poseidon Adventure after everyone chose to ignore him. Winters played Belle Rosen, a character from the 1972 movie.
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Jessie Nguyen is a Senior List Writer at Collider. She is a Vietnamese writer, copywriter, and blogger who was interested in television and movies from a very young age – a Succession reference if you may notice.
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