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Narrative Structure in "Friends": Resolution

by Jeremy Butler

Series episodes can have no final resolution, no narrative closure, because to do so would mean the end of the series itself. If there were no more threats to the friends’ camaraderie, if they were all happily coupled up and satisfied with their jobs, or if the moral character of Crockett and Tubbs were permanently assured, there would be no more conflict upon which to base Friends’ and Miami Vice’s narratives. Consequently, the ending of each episode must leave us in doubt as to the ultimate resolution of the series’ overarching conflict. There must be a sense of narrative openness, a limited aperture. In “Chandler’s Work Laugh,” we learn that Ross and Janice’s relationship is over, but we don’t know about Ross’ future romances or the possibility of Janice reappearing on the show. The small question: “Will Ross find romance with Janice?” is answered. Larger questions such as “Will Ross ever find romance?” or “Will romance and marriage take him away from his friends?” are not fully resolved. The last shot of the episode shows Janice teasing Joey, the one male “friend” with whom she has not slept, that he might be next. And so future complications are already being seeded.

Narrative Structure in "Friends": Part 4

TV narrative structure -- the series blends with the serial.

from Friends (1999)
Creator: NBC
Distributor: NBC
Posted by Jeremy Butler