5
   

Do the names of Friends have implied meanings and connotations?

 
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:30 am
@Feliciachoi,
Quote:
What I m gonna write is about socio-linguistics and anthroponomastics


Whoops!

I didn't see this.

Let's talk about this instead, it sounds a whole lot more interesting.

anthroponomastics n. The study of personal names. The study of names in general is called onomastics, and it is usually divided into anthroponomastics and toponomastics or toponymy, the study of place names

Feliciachoi
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:35 am
@Feliciachoi,
consider...sorry...
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:41 am
@chai2,
That does look interesting.

One more note on the names in "Friends," from a creative writing perspective. One way to make a sympathetic character is to make that character someone that the reader can identify with. More generic names make it more likely that people will be able to identify. I see "Ross" and "Monica" as being fairly generic in that way -- I think they were supposed to be the center of the show.

This makes sense in terms of the structure of the show. Ross and Monica connect the two groups of three; Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel live in one apartment (though I don't remember if they all lived there at the same time or if Phoebe moved out before Rachel moved in), while Ross, Joey and Chandler live across the hall. Ross and Monica are siblings and so connect the two groups.

Everyone else is more or less in sidekick territory. Ross (normal guy) has the sidekicks Joey (super-hunky Italian guy) and Chandler (super-geeky WASPy guy). Monica (normal gal) has the sidekicks Phoebe (super-dizzy blonde chick) and Rachel (super-spoiled Jewish chick).

The sidekick names are all less generic, meant to convey something about their characters.

Note -- this is in terms of the first season or so, when the names were bestowed. The characters evolved over the course of the show.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:55 am
@sozobe,
One more spare thought! (Who knew I'd have so many thoughts on this subject?)

I don't think that Chandler's original full name was Chandler Muriel Bing. As in, when the writers were coming up with names that were meant to convey stuff (which is what we're talking about), I think his name was just Chandler Bing. Then his middle name became a plot point later in the series, and "Muriel" was chosen as something that would be maximally embarrassing/ funny.

Sort of like how Kramer was just Kramer at the beginning of "Seinfeld," and then the first name "Cosmo" was eventually unveiled.
OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:57 am
@sozobe,
i always thought rachel and ross were the center of the show, monica being between both of them relaqtionship wise and being ross's sister..
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:57 am
@sozobe,
that makes a lot of sense soz.

main characters get a man on the street, "joe everyman" name, lesser characters need descriptive names.

by jove, I think you've got it!
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 10:02 am
@sozobe,
Quote:
Chandler Muriel Bing.


ok, first foray into going off topic

Bing...funny that name should come up, because yesterday I heard and old Bing Crosby recording on the radio.

That got me thinking of the the book "The Joy Luck Club"....this bit of information did appear in the movie, but one of the main characters in the book had 4 sons.

Their names were....Matthew, Mark, Luke and Bing.

Laughing
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 07:03 pm
I think -- BTW thanks for filling in much of what I was thinking, soz, and thanks for the compliment, chai -- that a lot of the Chandler name was really just expanded on in order to generate some laughs. Bing just, it sounds funny. Then the middle name, of course, is totally over the top. Plus, as the show evolves, you learn just how exceptionally odd his parents are.

For Chandler, with a gay crossdressing father and a cougar-type mother, his background is the epitome of strangeness. Phoebe's background is tragic (her father abandoned them and her mother committed suicide), but she's still cheerful, which shows a resilience that most people just don't have. Or perhaps it's another evocation of stupidity, that she's too dumb to realize she should be depressed by all of that. Joey's parents are together but his father has a long-term girlfriend. Rachel's parents divorce during the show and put her between them and their fight. It's only Ross and Monica's parents who are together and, presumably, still in love with each other. The show really doesn't have a terribly bright and shiny view of long-term love for one generation removed from the principle characters.

I think it's not so much that the show is watershed or anything, but it was extremely popular and was on for a long time. I do think it jumped the shark in later years. Once Monica and Chandler were married, I figured it was about time for it to end but the show went on as the actors' agents negotiated better and better deals and the network begged the show to stay on the air because it was such a cash cow.

But the show had some depth as the characters did grow and change, which doesn't always happen on what many people would see as just any old sitcom. There are a lot of shows where the difference in the characters from season one to season four is not that pronounced and you could practically view the program in any order and it wouldn't matter. Friends was not a serialization and so it didn't have that kind of continuity, but you see things like Monica evolve as a chef and Rachel turn from a brat to a confident woman. Joey has success and loses it. Chandler changes his career because he's unhappy. Phoebe gets by financially, barely, most of the time (she and Joey change the least). And Ross changes relationships like some people change socks.

Frankly I was never a huge fan of it and now it annoys me to see it in syndication, repeated endlessly, but it was rather well written and plotted and was diverting for quite a while, until it got too full of itself.
0 Replies
 
 

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