The Meaning Of ’90s Sitcoms

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 17 2015 @ 10:10am

The above video, by program designers Brett Bergmann and Benajmin Roberts, allows you to “simultaneously experience every episode from Season 1 of the sitcom ‘Friends’.” Brandon Ambrosino captions:

What’s striking about the video is how carnivalesque everything appears. Once you hit play, you’re bombarded with an avalanche of blurry images scored to the sounds of comical dialogue and laughter. If you keep watching, there will come a point where you realize just how formulaic the show was.

Like all sitcoms, Friends’ scripts were written with an almost scientific precision. In every episode, Rachel and Ross would flirt and fight, Monica would be brazenly type-A, Joey would smugly pursue women, Phoebe would say something so random that it was funny, and Chandler would offer a commentary on all of it that would never be as funny as it was in his head. This formulaic approach to storytelling comes through in the episodes’ titles, each of which starts with the words “The one with/where … ” (“The One Where Joey Speaks French,” “The One With the Male Nanny”).

If you watch the video above closely enough, you might be able to make out individual frames, and recognize your favorite characters in their apartments or their favorite coffee spot. But the point of the video isn’t to pick out the 24 different shots — the point is to see them all as the same shot.