Have you ever watched a show recommended to you by a friend and realised that’s where they got half their jokes and mannerisms from?
When I watched RuPaul’s Drag Race for the first time, I realised that I’d been unknowingly quoting Alaska Thunderf--k’s “HIIIIEEEEEEEEE” for months. My friendship group has a few big Drag Race fans in it, and through them, Alaska’s greeting had permeated the lingo of our group. The rest of us had gotten it from them, not knowing its source, and adopted it as our own.
I’m sure I’ve done this to people before, as well. My personality is mostly comprised of Friends and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia quotes, Grace Adler’s Antiques Roadshow sigh of disappointment, Titanic references, and mannerisms picked up from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and the collected works of '00s Kirsten Dunst. Because I’ve seen all of these shows and movies approximately nine thousand times each, I can clock a quote from any one of them in roughly five seconds. I have zero ability to do maths and I can’t tell you where any country is because I’m absolutely useless at geography, but I used to be able to recite the first ten minutes of Scream from memory. Call it my incredibly useless superpower.
Anyway, because of this very specific skill, my ears perked up real quick a few weeks ago, when I realised the cast of reality series Vanderpump Rules were recreating this scene from Friends on their own show. Here are the two side by side:
Although it’s not a word for word transcript, I think it’s safe to say that Friends was a clear inspiration for this scene. How do I know it wasn’t a fluke, you ask? Well, here’s the thing. This particular cast of friends LOVES THE SHIT OUT OF FRIENDS. Here are my receipts:
1. Two of the show’s couples, Tom Schwartz and Katie Maloney, as well as Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright, both have the same peephole frame that sits on the back of the door in Monica and Rachel/Chandler’s apartment:
2. In a behind-the-scenes look at Pump Rules, Stassi Schroeder compared her friendship group to Friends, saying that they wanted Tom Schwartz to be on the show rather than Scheana Shay:
3. Kristen Doute's tweets about how much she loves Friends:
4. Jax Taylor is literally a Friends stan. Let's break this one down:
4a. He tweets about his favourite moments:
4b) He has QUESTIONS, hunni!
4c) He is the kind of guy to reference Friends all the time!!
4d) He feels like he and Joey would be best friends.
4e) He loves his friends!
4f) Jax referred to Scheana as "divorce-o" in the last episode:
5. When I tweeted the video, three of the cast liked it, which is as good as confirmation if you ask me:
When I first clocked that the Vanderpump cast was recreating a scene from one of their favourite shows, my initial reaction was that they were trying too hard to produce their show, to lift scenes from popular sitcoms in order to replicate it within their own friendship circle. But that didn't feel right. After all, this not a show that's short on entertainment value, I've screamed OUT LOUD, by myself, while watching this season.
I considered whether they’d done this before, and quickly recalled the time the cast drank tequila shots out of sunscreen bottles, just like they’d done in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia a few years before.
When I took into account how much the cast truly love Friends, and looking at the way my favourite shows and films linger on in my own vocabulary and mannerisms - sometimes subconsciously - my opinion shifted. Perhaps the cast of Vanderpump Rules letting their inner-Friends stans out isn’t fake and over-produced, maybe it’s actually the most relatable thing that’s ever happened on the show?
Personally, I have never been in a situation where my friendship circle was rocked by three simultaneous cheating scandals. I’ve never schemed to hijack a friend’s engagement party in order to expose one of my best friends as a liar who slept with my ex, backhanding her in the process. I’ve never witnessed one of my friends glare at another friend as he seethes venomously “I’m the number one guy in this group”. I’ve never witnessed any of those things because generally, I get home from work and kick back with my favourite stories, whether that’s Friends, Vanderpump Rules, or whatever else I’m into at the time.
Considering the scene with this in mind, it’s fast become one of the most relatable scenes in the entire series to me, not necessarily because of the scene itself, but because of the preparation behind it. The idea that off-screen, Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval were walking back to Schwartz’s apartment to meet Katie and Stassi and had a conversation to plan this moment makes me smile. In my mind, that moment went something like:
Schwartz: “Hey, remember that scene in Friends where Joey and Ross pretend like their audition didn’t go well but then they’re like, ‘YEAH IT DID!’?”
Sandoval: “Of course I remember, I love Friends!”
Schwartz: “We should do that when we go back to my apartment and make Katie and Stassi think we bombed our meeting with Ken and Lisa.”
Sandoval: “LOL omg we should DEFINITELY DO THAT, that’s so good, man.”
It's super dorky, very endearing, and it’s more real to my own life experiences than the vast majority of the rest of the show. And honestly, if I were on a reality show, I’d probably be doing the exact same thing.