It’s been 12 years since Friends bid farewell to Primetime television, and yet it somehow remains to be a popular topic of conversation today. That alone is a testament to how legendary it really is – any television show can win Emmy awards and People’s Choice awards, but not all of them can stand the test of time like Friends has.
Last year, Friends was made available for streaming on Netflix; further immortalizing it into television history. This year, there have been rumours that a Friends reunion was in the works; but it’s recently been confirmed that the purpose of the gathering is to pay tribute to comedy director James Burrows rather than to announce a comeback.
Reunion or not, Friends will never die. Here are 8 Ontario universities as Friends characters, in honour of the TV phenomenon:
1. Rachel Green // Western University
Western University is more similar to the “old” Rachel than the “new” Rachel (who would probably be better represented by Wilfrid Laurier University). “Old” Rachel is the type of girl that everyone loves to hate. She’s spoiled, obnoxiously attention seeking, and popular for all the wrong reasons. Western students are often stereotyped as being the same. Before she moved in with Monica, Rachel was also immature and had mixed priorities. This could be similar to how Western students are known for their tendency of putting partying over studying, and for being more concerned with their looks than their academics.
Nevertheless, both Rachel and Western students are more than their “girly-girl” stereotypes. They have a knack for persuasion, and that makes them good at business and socializing. They’re also hard workers – Rachel went from waitress at the Central Perk to executive at Ralph Lauren, while 92 per cent of Western grads are employed after a tough four to five years of undergrad.
2. Ross Geller // University of Toronto
Ross Geller is the smartest member of the group (he’s the only one with a doctorate), so it makes sense that UofT be the chosen representative for him, since it is one of the top institutions in terms of academic performance. Both Ross and UofT students sometimes have the tendency of letting their intelligence get to their heads – Ross is known for being rather arrogant and pretentious, and UofT students are often stereotyped as know-it-alls. Ross is also a typical “hot” nerd, and has an odd sense of humour that makes him somewhat socially awkward. UofT students are the same way - sometimes they can’t help but squeeze in a “fun fact” when participating in general conversation or while flirting.
Ross can be childlike in the sense that he always needs to be right. He scoffs at spiritual perspectives (such as the ones held by Phoebe) and tries to force his scientific views onto others. UofT students tend to have strong opinions as well, and they sometimes cling on to them a little too tightly. Both Ross and UofT students are also competitive by nature and try their best to live relatively frugally (Ross takes advantage of bargain deals at Supercuts and steals “freebies” from hotel rooms, while UofT students are often forced to think smart about their spending since they live downtown).
3. Chandler Bing // University of Waterloo
Chandler Bing is best known for his wittiness and sarcastic tongue, which his friends believe he uses as a defense mechanism. This is somewhat analogous to UWaterloo students, who often have strong opinions that they aren’t afraid to voice publicly (though, most of the time they only do so when they’re hiding behind a computer screen… ahem, OMGUW trolls). Although Chandler is financially secure, no one seems to know what his job actually is. This is similar to how UW students sometimes land the oddest co-op jobs that everyone questions them about (“What’s a bread scientist?”). Also, in the same way that Chandler has commitment issues, UWaterloo students often have trouble committing, particularly to their majors (they switch a lot since they have the luxury to choose their major in first year and often make rash decisions regarding such).
Both Chandler and UWaterloo students don't care much for the party lifestyle – they’d rather stay in and channel surf the TV or play LoL. Their "homebodiness" shouldn’t be mistaken for dullness, however – they both have the same type of nerdy humour that one can definitely appreciate. Chandler and UW are also pretty generous (Chandler lends money to his friends all the time, while UW often blesses students are often blessed with entrance scholarships).
4. Monica Geller // University of Guelph
Perhaps the most memorable thing about Monica Geller is her exceptional talent for the culinary arts. In the Ontario University world, the closest thing to culinary is food science, which the University of Guelph has an excellent program for. For the most part, both Monica and Guelph students like rules because they “control the fun”. They’re also naturally competitive and bossy at times, but that’s only because they’re passionate about success. Near the end of the series, Monica dreamt of moving out of the city with Chandler and their adopted twins. Surely, many Guelph students had to make a similar decision to give up the city for a more rural life before deciding on UoG.
Monica is also a complete neat freak and obsesses over being organized (her favourite tool is her label maker). Guelph students are similar in that they like to have structure in their life. They both also don’t take criticism too well because they are people pleasers at heart. Despite sometimes being in Ross’s or Rachel’s shadow, she’s successful in her own right in the same way the University of Guelph shines in its own unique ways.
5. Phoebe Buffay // OCAD University
Phoebe is undoubtedly the quirkiest and most creative of the friends. This makes OCAD students the perfect representatives for Phoebe, since they have huge imaginations and eccentric personalities just like hers. They both live freely and aren’t afraid to explore the unknown, and that makes them awesome friends to be with, especially if you like trying out new things. Phoebe and OCAD students also share some “special” qualities. For example, Phoebe has a knack for reading the “auras” of other people, while OCAD students have the ability to read people based on their body language and behaviour. OCAD students also place greater value in originality and rareness in the same way that Phoebe resists large corporations that profit off of mass-produced products (Pottery Barn).
Phoebe’s rough childhood made her very street smart; a quality which OCAD students have as a result from living in downtown Toronto. Like Phoebe, OCAD students aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. They are comfortable in their own skin and stick to their beliefs no matter what people think of them. OCAD students are also very expressive in the same way the Phoebe is.
6. Joey Tribbiani // Ryerson University
Joey Tribbiani is perhaps the most street smart among the males in the group in the same way Ryerson students are. Both Joey and Ryerson students are often not seen as the brightest of people; however, they have personalities of gold and also lots of friends (or in Joey’s case, lots of admirers). Like Joey, Ryerson students are also kids at heart – they have a variety of unique school clubs and organizations, including the Fanatics Domain (for fans of popular books, TV and comics), the Game Maker’s Union (for those passionate about video games and design), and even a Magic Association (for those who are into the illusionary arts).
Though Joey wasn’t necessarily the best at his job (he was an actor in the show), he was still very confident in himself. In fact, he often had trouble understanding negative criticisms about his acting. Ryerson students are the same – they have a huge pride for their school and aren’t too bothered with the “Rye High” jokes and other stereotypes held against them. Joey sometimes says the most outrageous things (kind of like some of the professors at Ryerson), but he always means well!
7. Janice Litman-Goralnik // Queen’s University
Queen’s University is a fitting representative for Janice Litman-Goralnik, mainly because they are both extravagant. Queen’s students tend to be flamboyant like Janice, as evidenced by their double-popped collars and their obsession with purple. In the same way that Janice is oblivious to the fact that many people find her irritating, Queen’s students often ignore the fact that many students from other universities in Ontario aren’t too fond of them. In the show, Janice, thinks she’s too good for the group. Queen’s students are similar in that they have a massive school pride that often leads them to believe they are the absolute best among the rest.
Nevertheless, Janice and Queen’s students still have good hearts. They may be rich and sometimes attention seeking, but they both still care about the well being of others. For example, Janice willingly left when Monica told her that Chandler still had strong feelings for her (since she didn’t want to get in the middle of Chandler and Monica’s engagement), while Queen’s students always find ways to give back to their community.
8. Gunther // York University
Gunther and York University share a lot of similarities with each other. For one, they both have a propensity for the dramatic arts. York has a stellar drama program that has given rise to stars such as Rachel McAdams and Jay Manuel, while Gunther used to be an actor on All My Children before he got killed off and had no choice but to work at Central Perk. Like Gunther, York students tend to be outside observers who have a many opinions, but they aren’t as aggressive in their approaches as they used to be.
Both Gunther and York University are often overlooked in their respective realms. Gunther wants nothing more to be a part of the group, while York University is never considered among the ranks of “bigger” institutions like UofT. Nevertheless, they both still manage to stand out (Gunther with his peroxide hair and York with their work on new-age pharmaceuticals) and are hard workers that aren’t discouraged by the stereotypes set against them.
Did you enjoy this article? If so, please check out my other articles in this series: