Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Now all they need is a replica of "The Wire"
January 23, 2013 8:39 PM   Subscribe

"Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide."
posted by vidur (37 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
How totally bizarre. I was at the real Central Perk set in Los Angeles in October and took an obligatory photo of myself on the orange couch. It felt like a rite of passage.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:42 PM on January 23, 2013


Could they BE any more into Friends?
posted by ShutterBun at 8:52 PM on January 23, 2013 [19 favorites]


My sister was in China a few years ago and had no idea how to interact with her Chinese peers until someone mentioned Friends, at which point the rest of the trip turned into "You remember the time when Chandler [did a Friends thing]?" and "How great was it when they [did something typical of New York twentysomethings]". Obviously, I know very little about Friends, but the Chinese college students knew even more about Friends than my sister, who'd grown up watching the show and still quotes lines at me from time to time.
posted by Copronymus at 9:03 PM on January 23, 2013


I'm fascinated by how Joey's sexual approach plays in (I had assumed sexually conservative) China but it was really skipped over in the podcast. Any MeFites who can give an insight?
posted by jaduncan at 9:04 PM on January 23, 2013


I second Copronymus' comment. My Chinese friends and colleagues would endlessly talk about the show and its characters as if someone they actually knew did those things from the show in real life. In one conversation, we actually thought someone we knew got his head stuck in a turkey.

Also, my Chinese friends' level of knowledge of New York was so detailed from this show and Sex and the City I actually thought that they've lived there.
posted by JiffyQ at 9:35 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, back in the 90's the Japanese equivalent was Full House.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:46 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


臭臭猫,臭臭猫,他们喂你吗? /臭臭猫,臭臭猫,这是不是你的错!
posted by mazola at 9:54 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Friends was among the first few American shows to be broadcast when cable TV came to India. I know at least two people who know every single line from the entire show. I am married to one of them. Even today, when we come across a random episode while channel surfing, I keep watching for a few minutes just to see the episode follow my wife line by line.
posted by vidur at 9:58 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is so totally bizarre. Thanks for posting about this.

It was unclear to me from this article if Friends is aired in English or in Chinese. I assume the latter, but vidur's comment about it airing in India made me think maybe there is enough English knowledge among young Chinese that the networks aired it with the original audio.
posted by deathpanels at 10:26 PM on January 23, 2013


I pity the fools.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:10 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one where Kirk lands on the planet where they restyled their entire culture around a single work of art from our own.
posted by dhartung at 11:11 PM on January 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


I can't help but think about the "world of warcraft" theme park, looking at this, and wonder "was a dime of royalties even paid for this?"
posted by Archelaus at 11:28 PM on January 23, 2013


A replica of The Wire, you mean, rampant corruption and an ineffectual justice system? They've got that so down, it's uncanny.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:41 PM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I haven't been to the US at all, but in TV shows and movies set in New York I feel right at home after playing Grand Theft Auto IV a lot, where the fictional Liberty City is modelled very closely on New York City (except for being smaller and, you know, a satire...)
posted by Harald74 at 11:59 PM on January 23, 2013


"Friends" was, and is, a huge deal in the UK too. I think it's one of those shows that's a lot bigger overseas than in its home market, where it's just a dimly remembered historical curiosity.

Could be worse, could be the Benny Hill Show.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:44 AM on January 24, 2013


> A replica of The Wire, you mean, rampant corruption and an ineffectual justice system? They've got that so down, it's uncanny.

Obviously the younger generation of Chinese have a preference for the US version: truth, justice and the American way. They wanna be Friends.
posted by de at 12:49 AM on January 24, 2013


It was unclear to me from this article if Friends is aired in English or in Chinese. I assume the latter, but vidur's comment about it airing in India made me think maybe there is enough English knowledge among young Chinese that the networks aired it with the original audio.

In India, the sort of person who can afford cable TV tends to be at least conversant in English.

My guess is that American and British media is broadcast on Indian TV in English, possibly with subtitles.

When I was traveling in India, I was able to watch some Indian TV in English. I also seem to recall some Indian shows having English subtitles, for example I definitely caught a few episodes of the famous Mahabharata miniseries, which I never could have understood in Hindi, so it must have either been in English or had subtitles. There was also at least one English language news channel in every hotel in every city, and it wasn't CNN or the BBC but locally produced.

I'm not sure about China, but due to the demand for ESL teachers my guess is that English isn't nearly as widely spoken, and that Anglophone media is either dubbed or definitely has subtitles.

Sorry for the derail.

More on topic, I swear every youth hostel I have ever been in, from Cusco to Varanasi to Milan, has had a constant stream of Friends episodes blaring on the TV. I think you have to have the complete series on DVD to get an HI license these days.
posted by Sara C. at 1:20 AM on January 24, 2013


"Friends" was, and is, a huge deal in the UK too. I think it's one of those shows that's a lot bigger overseas than in its home market, where it's just a dimly remembered historical curiosity.

Yeah, but it was smotheringly omnipresent fifteen years ago when it was being aired in the US.

(Also Friends is one of the flagship reasons why laugh tracks must die.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:30 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


My guess is that American and British media is broadcast on Indian TV in English, possibly with subtitles.

With English subtitles, yes. :) I certainly would have preferred to have them on when I watched Yes Minister as a kid.

(That is to say, I was able to truly 'get' Yes Minister only after reading the paperback in the British Library in my hometown, although now I can follow most British series, even those not in RP, without any trouble. My Singaporean-born wife still prefers English subtitles when she watches anything other than news on BBC or for most regional American shows like The Wire or Treme, although not necessarily for Friends or How I Met Your Mother types.)
posted by the cydonian at 1:44 AM on January 24, 2013


I wonder what they make of the show's only main Chinese character , Ross's girlfriend Julie who he brings back from China and who is demonised by Rachel.
posted by dprs75 at 1:49 AM on January 24, 2013


There's a Central Perk in Liverpool as well.
posted by Acey at 2:36 AM on January 24, 2013


When I visited Seoul I remember walking past a bar called 90210, replicating the logo and all. Went back a couple days later to take a photo of the sign but couldn't find the street it was on. There was also a Carpenters bar in another part of Seoul, and there's probably more that I saw and forgot.

Capitalizing on past popular American media icons seems to be a thing. This story is taking it to a kind of creepy extreme, though.
posted by ardgedee at 3:56 AM on January 24, 2013


Pshaw silly foreigners just don't get it. To do a properly immersive exploitation of an American TV series you need a themed casino, prop museum, and motion simulator ride.
posted by localroger at 5:29 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was unclear to me from this article if Friends is aired in English or in Chinese. I assume the latter, but vidur's comment about it airing in India made me think maybe there is enough English knowledge among young Chinese that the networks aired it with the original audio.

I highly doubt it'd be broadcast in English in China. English is far more adopted in India than China, for historical reasons if nothing else. I'm betting Friends is shown in dubbed Mandarin, with Chinese subtitles. (From what I remember every broadcast in China has Chinese subtitles due to the variety of dialects.)

I didn't encounter any particular Friends mania the last time I visited (November last year) but what struck me was how much goddamn Angry Birds related merchandise there was. Hats, shirts, toys, you name it. Just seemed rather bizarre to me.

(When I was a kid in Beijing in the late 80s the only American show I remember watching was Hunter. My schoolmates and I were all very amused because the female lead's first name, Dee Dee, was transliterated to ji1ji1, which is the same pronunciation as a slang term for penis. To be fair, we actually were in 2nd grade.)
posted by kmz at 6:26 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I highly doubt it'd be broadcast in English in China.

Uh, to me, the article suggests otherwise ...

"Reruns of the show serve as a language-learning tool for Chinese university students. The show is particularly popular for its use of colloquial language and as an introduction to American culture."
posted by Diag at 6:31 AM on January 24, 2013


么样?
posted by adamdschneider at 6:44 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Look, if China wants to hook up with Friends, we all need to be clear that we are on a break.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:44 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


How does the joke about the Weekly Estimated Net Usage System work in Mandarin?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:04 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"This is ancient Earth's most foolish program! Why does Ross, the largest friend, not simply eat the other five?"
posted by amoebius at 9:18 AM on January 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


but what struck me was how much goddamn Angry Birds related merchandise there was. Hats, shirts, toys, you name it. Just seemed rather bizarre to me.

Wait, in the USA or China? Because that’s how I feel when I go to the store here.
posted by bongo_x at 9:33 AM on January 24, 2013


Be glad you don't have Moshi Monsters yet, then.
posted by mippy at 10:06 AM on January 24, 2013


Friends was broadcast in English in India. As were many other shows (I sure remember Baywatch). I think these shows were on the Star network. Sony also broadcast some shows, which were all dubbed (I Dream of Jeannie; Bewitched; Diff'rent Strokes etc.).

India has tonnes of English language programming on TV now, primarily news (there are some 6-8 English language 24x7 news channels) but entertainment programming is also slowing incorporating more and more Hing-lish and there are times when a character would say something completely in English and then either paraphrase it in Hindi himself or the other character will do it.
A: I don't know what do do! Mujhe kuchh samajh nahi aa raha ki main kya karoon!

B: Agar tumhe samajh nahi aa raha ki kya karna chahiye, to kisi ki madad kyon nahi lete? (If you don't know what to do, why don't you seek someone's advice/help?)

[Dramatic reaction shots of 6 other characters]
posted by vidur at 3:05 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Forgot to add: You can get regular English entertainment programming in India on cable, of course. HBO and the rest.
posted by vidur at 3:06 PM on January 24, 2013


In my experience, foreign media is generally broadcast in the native language with Chinese subtitles. Dubbing it in "Mandarin" (i.e. Beijing dialect) Chinese would make it less intelligible in the south and other regions where the Beijing dialect is not the primary vernacular. (It also allows it to be sold to Taiwan and other non-PRC Chinese markets without changing much).

I didn't encounter any particular Friends mania the last time I visited (November last year) but what struck me was how much goddamn Angry Birds related merchandise there was. Hats, shirts, toys, you name it. Just seemed rather bizarre to me.

Oh God, don't get me started. It's on everything and everywhere in East Asia (except Japan, for some reason). Taiwan and Bangkok had a ridiculous amount everywhere you turned.
posted by armage at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2013


I highly doubt it'd be broadcast in English in China. English is far more adopted in India than China, for historical reasons if nothing else. I'm betting Friends is shown in dubbed Mandarin, with Chinese subtitles. (From what I remember every broadcast in China has Chinese subtitles due to the variety of dialects.)

It wasn't broadcast in China (at least, I am pretty sure it was not) . People used to buy pirated DVD's of American TV shows and now, everything is available on the Chinese internet. Lots of American shows are popular and are downloaded for free. They're not dubbed- all subtitles. None of the American shows I've ever seen on DVD on the internet are dubbed (I live in China). I would think that's too hard to do with a limited budget and no central organization. Some movies that come out in the theater are dubbed, but only kid's movies, I think.
posted by bearette at 9:02 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dubbing it in "Mandarin" (i.e. Beijing dialect) Chinese would make it less intelligible in the south and other regions where the Beijing dialect is not the primary vernacular. (It also allows it to be sold to Taiwan and other non-PRC Chinese markets without changing
much).



Almost all TV in China is in Mandarin and the vast majority of people can easily understand Mandarin (which is actually not "Beijing dialect"; it's based off of the Beijing dialect, but not the same thing at all). Mandarin is spoken in Taiwan as well.

I think the reason the shows are not dubbed is because they are not broadcast on TV, so who would do the dubbing? The subtitles are often written by average folk who are good at English (or sometimes, not so good) and it all can be done through the internet, where the shows are to be found.
posted by bearette at 9:09 PM on January 25, 2013


It was unclear to me from this article if Friends is aired in English or in Chinese. I assume the latter, but vidur's comment about it airing in India made me think maybe there is enough English knowledge among young Chinese that the networks aired it with the original audio.

Friends is actually officially censored in China, largely due to the sexual content, so it doesn't air at all. Like bearette says, people watched Friends in English via pirated DVDs (and picked up a lot of vernacular English from it). Every single Chinese college student I met over there had seen Friends.

The government actually recently flirted with the idea of editing Friends for content and then airing it, because it's so incredibly popular, but by now everyone who would want to see it already knows the show by heart and would notice the censoring. So they just don't bother.

From what I could tell when I was there- although Friends remains popular, the new hotness among Chinese students is definitely Big Bang Theory. God help us all.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:16 PM on February 1, 2013


« Older Unicorns from Hell...  |  We are delighted to present Sc... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments