sitcoms

Favorites Week: Friends

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Shout out to my Emerson alumni network for this one– I gotchu, Kevin Bright!  The final show featured on Favorites Week is one near and dear to my heart.  I watched Friends from start to finish to heal from my first ever break-up, and I return to this show when I feel particularly hopeless.  It’s not only good for a laugh and a smile, it’s an emotional rollercoaster, thus perfect for readjusting your mental state.  As the theme song suggests, I truly feel like Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross, and Joey will be there for me.  And they are.  Here are my favorite episodes:

 

The One with the Prom Video

I especially love any Friends episode that has a flashback.  I love Fat Monica; I love Rachel’s old nose.  This episode prominently features a flashback of sorts, in that the gang gathers to watch a video of Monica and Rachel getting ready to go to prom.  This episode follows the discovery of Ross’s list.  (She’s not Rachem.)  When Rachel sees in the video that Ross, who was in college at this point, was willing to drop everything and take her to prom when it looked like her date was standing her up, she immediately kisses him and Ross and Rachel are officially on!  (He’s her lobster!)  It’s a sweet ending to a very funny episode.

 

The One with the Embryos

Sadly, Phoebe is absent for the majority of the fun in this episode.  She’s busy getting embryos implanted, as the episode title alludes to.  What I think it really fun about this episode is the trivia contest hosted by Ross.  Joey and Chandler challenge Monica and Rachel to see which set of roommates knows more about the other.  Ross makes the questions, as he knows both groups well, and he goes all out on the game even incorporating a lightning round.  I can quote the entire lightening round by heart, and I’m really proud of that.  The guys win at the end because no one know what Chandler’s job is, and as winners they make the girls switch apartments with them.

 

The One with All the Thanksgivings 

Okay, no show does a Thanksgiving episode as well as Friends.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and Monica’s too.  Chandler, however, hates Thanksgiving and refuses to celebrate.  This episode is full of flashbacks, and flashbacks in the truest sense.  Everyone recounts their worst Thanksgivings ever.  Phoebe’s is in another life, Joey’s is when his head got stuck in a turkey, Chandler’s is when he found out his dad is gay, and Monica and Rachel have two: when Chandler called Monica fat and when Monica accidentally cut of Chandler’s toe when trying to be sexy for revenge.  (Ooh, I love macaroni and cheese.)  This hilarious episode ends with a sweet and funny moment, where Monica puts the turkey on her head to cheer up Chandler, who tells her he loves her for the first time.

 

The One Where Everybody Finds Out 

When Monica and Chandler begin their relationship, they want to keep it a secret from the crew.  Joey finds out first, and Monica and Chandler beg him to keep it to himself.  When Rachel finds out, (hilariously overhearing an obscene phone conversation,) she can’t keep it in and comes to Joey who tells her they have to keep the secret.  Phoebe is apartment shopping with Ross across the street now that Ugly Naked Guy is moving out.  She sees first hand what’s going on between Monica and Chandler.  Phoebe and Rachel try to mess with Monica and Chandler in order to get them to admit the affair, but soon find out that they are in love.  Ross gets Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment as Naked Ross, and soon his new view allows him to discover the relationship too.

 

The One with the Proposal

Okay, this is absolutely two episodes and I’m completely cheating.  What I love about part one is the silent auction which Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel attend.  Phoebe drinks to excess and Joey misunderstands the concept of a silent auction and buys a boat.  Rachel tries to convince the next highest bidder to purchase the gentlemen’s day sailor, but Joey wants the Mr. Beaumont!  The first attempt at a proposal is botched in part I– Chandler and Monica run into Richard at the restaurant.  “Maybe he won’t see us,” Monica comments before screaming, “RICHARD” to get his attention.  What I love about part II is the proposal itself.  Chandler, believing he’s entirely lost Monica to Richard, returns to their apartment to see Monica waiting to propose to him,

 

Guys, even writing all of that was such an emotional delight.  Friends really is a fantastic show and even if sitcoms aren’t your cup of tea, this piece of pop culture gold should be on everyone’s to-see list!

I think that was a great note to end on.  I hope you all enjoyed favorites week!  Leave me some Friends-quote comments and let’s laugh some more.  Happy Friday, kids; enjoy the weekend!

Favorites Week: The Office

Alright, friends, you may have noticed so far that I really appreciate the comedic moments of the two shows I’ve highlighted for Favorites Week.  Well, from here on out I’m talking about comedies!  What is life without lots of laughter?  Today’s favorite is a show that always cheers me up when I’m down: The Office.

The Dundies

This classic episode has Regional Manager Michael Scott hosting his yearly “awards show,” an employee recognition event that he invented called The Dundies.  Each employee receive little trophies of men with briefcases and Michael provides a lot of unwanted entertainment.  It’s held in a local Chili’s.  As usual, we see Michael acting foolish, but when his illusion of grandeur starts falling apart, Dunder Mifflin Scranton rallies and lets him have fun.  Oscar says it best: The dundies are kinda like a kid’s birthday party, and you go, and there’s really nothing for you to do there, but the kid’s having a really good time so you’re kinda there.  Pam gets super drunk on margaritas and proclaims, I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.

The Injury

This is hands-down my favorite episode of the office, and it starts with Michael stepping on a George Foreman grill… which he has left cooking 6 slices of bacon by his bed.  It actually only gets more ridiculous from here.  Michael calls the office screaming in pain asking Ryan to come help him.  Instead, Dwight comes to the rescue.  On his rush out of the parking lot, he smashes his car into a telephone pole, stumbles out, projectile vomits, gets back in the car and drives to get Michael.  Meanwhile, the whole office is watching– “Ooh Dwight,” Jim says, “You forgot your bumper!”  The whole episode has a melodramatic Michael complain about his foot burn while a severely concussed Dwight tries to push through the brain injury.

Money

This episode is excellent for two reasons.  The first and foremost is Jim & Pam’s visit to Schrute Farms. They discover Dwight is running a bed and breakfast of sorts and can’t resist the strange experience of spending the night there.  B&B activities include table-making demonstrations, beet wine-making, a bit of farming, and Dwight reading an excerpt of Harry Potter before they go to sleep.  Jim also follows a mysterious wailing to find Dwight crying over Angela.  Pam discovers Dwight’s cousin Mose in an outhouse.  Very normal stuff.  They leave him a fantastic TripAdvisor review, which thankfully, you can actually view on TripAdvisor!  The second wonderful thing, and namesake of the episode, is Michael’s literal proclamation: I declare bankruptcy!  We actually get a nice Michael/Jan moment out of Michael’s money troubles too.

Fun Run

This is actually two episodes, but they share a name and plot lines.   This great episodes starts off with a bang– Michael hits Meredith with his car, accidentally of course, but gosh is it hilarious.

Guess what, I have flaws.  What are they?  Oh, I don’t know.  I sing n the shower.  Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering.  Occasionally I hit somebody with my car.  So sue me… no, don’t sue me.

When Meredith is hospitalized, we find out she has rabies.  Feeling badly about his part in it all, Michael has the office put on a fun run for rabies awareness and also Meredith.  Michael has a tough time at said fun run, because his idea of carbo-loading is fettucini alfredo and no water.  Dwight and Angela’s relationship comes to an end when Dwight kills Angela’s cat Sprinkles by shutting her in the freezer.  So, all around good times.  Jim & Pam’s relationship is confirmed at the end of this one.

Weight Loss

This is another two-part episode.  I love this for Jim and Pam’s adorable proposal, I love Angela’s continued affair despite her engagement to Andy, and I love Phyllis blackmailing her with this knowledge for control of the Party Planing Committee.  All of these things are great.  While the aforementioned proposal and Michael and Holly’s budding relationship make this episode stand out in the minds of most, this has always stood out to me for Kelly Kapoor’s dieting.  The very premise of the episode is that the branch that loses most weight collectively wins extra vacation days.  Kelly decides to swallow a tape worm (which she bought from Creed and is actually not a tape worm).  They way she laments, “I hate dieting, I hate it so much.  I hate this worm in my stomach!” only to have Michael misunderstand just cracks me up.

Bonus: If I’m having a bad day, I youtube this wonderful scene from an episode not mentioned about.  I simply cannot keep a straight face through it!

Foreign Friday: Ipartment

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Now that Top Chef season 11 is sadly over, I have no more recaps for you.  Instead, today is Foreign Friday!  I love languages, and although I only fully understand English, I’ve never let a little language-barrier stop me from enjoying TV!  Most of the foreign TV I watch is English language, either British, Australian, or Canadian.  I’ve enjoyed many a Japanese show, both live action and anime, so I’m used to hearing that.  I’ve studied French and Italian, so romance languages don’t sound foreign to my ear.  This time, however, I tried something completely different: Chinese.

I stumbled upon Ipartment when searching for Friends— allegations that this Chinese sitcom ripped off Friends and various other American shows are all over the internet.  As an avid Friends fan myself, I was intrigued.  I initially pronounced it “ip-partment” (as in chip, minus the ch), but wikipedia set me straight: it’s eye-partment, the i standing for “ai,” meaning love.  The Chinese name of this show is Ai Qing Gong Yu, which means Love Apartment.

When watching foreign television, you not only have to get used to the language, but also the cultural differences a show may portray.  Admittedly, I don’t know anything about Chinese culture.  I didn’t know what to expect.  As aforementioned, I’m used to Japanese shows so I modeled my expectations on this, assuming that the Asian cultures would share some elements.  Mostly, it felt very much like an American sitcom.  Ipartment is a fast-talking show, packed with comedic moments and pop-culture references that even an American can understand.

Ipartment is about 7 young people, 3 women and 4 men, who all live in the same apartment building in Shanghai.  The first episode features the wedding of a couple who met in the apartment building.  As a wedding gift, the building is renamed Love Apartment at their request.  All couples in love receive free water and electricity, and half off rent.  This of course leads to some deception for a good deal.  Here’s what I was able to understand about the characters:

Zhan Bo

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After studying computer science abroad, Zhan Bo returns to China.  (Wikipedia says he went to MIT— woo Boston!)  His sister, Yi Fei, already lived in Love Apartment and he moves in with her.  He meets Wan Yu on the bus and falls for her.  He’s a little socially awkward.

Wan Yu

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The daughter of a wealthy banker, Wan Yu ran away to avoid an arranged marriage.  She was supposed to go to music school in New York.  She’s pretty happy-go-lucky and that attitude seems to serve her well.  After meeting Zhan Bo on the bus, she moves in with him and his sister at Love Apartment.

Xiao Xian

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One of the only characters who lived in Love Apartment before the start of the show, Xiao Xian is the host of a late night radio show called “Your Moon, My Heart.”  He seems to just pop into the others’ apartments Kramer-style, which leads to many moments of comedy.

Yi Fei

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Zhan Bo’s older sister, Yi Fei is a PhD graduate who works at a university.  She is a very strong personality— forceful, competitive, and bossy.  She seems to be a meddler, thinking she knows the best recourse for many situations.  She’s the other Love Apartment resident who lived there prior to the show.

Zi Qiao

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Wikipedia calls him a “freelancer,” but he’s more of a swindler.  He shows up at the wedding in the first episode trying to sell his health supplement.  When the priest falls ill (he might have actually died?) in the bathroom, Zi Qiao takes over his duties to make a few bucks.  There’s a great moment of him pretending to speak English here.

Mei Jia

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Zi Qiao’s ex-girlfriend, Mei Jia also shows up to the wedding uninvited… looking to gorge on free food.  After hearing about the couple’s discount, she and Zi Qiao pretend to be a couple and move in together, despite their dislike of each other.  Mei Jia is a silly girl, who loves cute things and tends to scream with delight.  She falls for Guan Gu as soon as she sees him.

Guan Gu

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A Japanese man who is tricked by Mei Jia and Zi Qiao into moving in with them to share the burden of the rent, Guan Gu doesn’t show up until the second episode.  The fact that Chinese is not his first language is a source of humor in the show.  He is a manga artist, specifically the artist of Mei Jia’s favorite manga.  I dig Guan Gu, especially for the several Sailor Moon posters he hangs in his room, but his name bugs me— it definitely sounds Chinese and not Japanese.

I was only able to watch two episodes with subtitles, and I really wish I could keep on watching!  I started the third, but the subtitles dropped out after the first 10 minutes.  While you don’t have to understand every single word to enjoy the show, it simply isn’t feasible to keep watching with no idea what they’re saying.  Still, throughout the first two episodes, I laughed many times.  I’ll definitely scour Youtube to see if I can find more subbed episodes.  As for the allegations that Ipartment has ripped off American sitcoms… don’t all sitcoms do similar things?  I think it’s par for the course.

The two episodes I watched are on viki.com— I recommend checking them out!

Do you have any suggestions for my next Foreign Friday?  Let me know!