Magoosh English Lesson: Why is Friends still so Popular?

Welcome to the next lesson in this series of Magoosh’s free English classes


  • Learn vocabulary related to television
  • Explain why a famous TV show is still popular today
  • Review a common grammar topic

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Time: Approximately 15 minutes


Friends: Examining its Lasting Popularity

There’s truth to the statement: “You’ll never see another show like Friends.” It influenced American culture and had a direct impact on the TV industry. The series finale had over 50 million viewers and hundreds of millions of people (maybe even a billion) have seen at least an episode or two of the show since it first aired in 1994.

Even today, 16 years after the final episode, millions of people are still streaming and watching the show in syndication on various networks. In America, you can turn on your TV in the morning, mid afternoon, or late at night, and odds are you can find an episode of Friends on the air.

Why is the show still so popular, impactful and meaningful to people?

To answer this question, let’s first travel back to the mid to late 1990s when Friends was in its early years. At the time, shows still aired for a full season. Meaning audiences were with their characters nearly every week from September to May. 

It created a sense of attachment to the show for an entire generation of people. Plus, there were only four major networks and a limited number of original cable tv shows. This forced millions of people to pick and choose shows based on a limited number of options unlike today’s TV market.

With that audience, Friends was the first show to change the idea of the traditional American family. From the first episode, Friends abandons the concept of a single family living under the same roof whose members all work 9-5 jobs and then come home to have dinner together. It presents the idea that when you’re young, single, living in an apartment with roommates, and trying to make your way in life, your friends become your family. 

Even after all of these years, that seems to be the idea that still resonates with audiences young and old. Granted some of the jokes are outdated and others may even be considered offensive by today’s standards, but the show lives on because it was, at its core, was the first to present this American cultural trend.


Word Focus

  • Odds are – (idiom) – Likely or probable that something will happen

When a criminal gets away with something, odds are they’ll do it again.

  • Major Networks – (noun) – The four major American broadcast TV networks are NBC (National Broadcasting Company), ABC (American Broadcasting Company), CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System), and Fox.

In the older eras of television, the goal of any tv show or any tv show actor was to be on a major network.

  • Under the same roof / Under one roof – (phrase) – Being in the same building as others.

Some cultures are centered around many members of the same family living under one roof.

  • Nine to five (9-5) Job – (noun) – A routine job. Often described as boring and/or unfulfilling. Sometimes only described as a ‘9 to 5’.

My father worked a 9 to 5 for thirty years, and I refuse to go down that path.

  • Resonate – (verb) – To evoke emotion from an audience.

The actress’s performances always resonated with her audience.

  • At (its) core – (phrase) – The most essential meaning or part of something.

At his core, he was always very kind and loving though he didn’t often show that side outwardly.


Grammar Center

Read the sentence from the above passage:

From the first episode, Friends abandons the concept of a single family living under the same roof whose members all work 9-5 jobs and then come home to have dinner together.

Notice the writer uses whose and not who’s in the sentence. It seems simple enough, but this is one of the most common mistakes for both ESL learners and native speakers alike. In this lesson, we’re going to review and simplify the rules of using whose or who’s.

The simplest detail to remember when choosing the correct word is that who’s is always a contraction. In every situation it means either who is or who has. Many words use an apostrophe to indicate possession, but that is not the case here.

So, if you break down the contraction in the sentence and it doesn’t make sense, then you’re probably using the wrong word.


  • Who’s going to dinner with us tonight?
  • Who is going to dinner with us tonight?

  • Who’s been driving my car?
  • Who has been driving my car?


The next rule to remember is that whose is the possessive form of who. ‘Whom’ is most often used as an adjective in that situation to identify who owns something or describe someone.

  • Claire, whose hair always seemed to be flowing in the wind, arrived ten minutes late.
  • John was the one whose watch always seemed to be broken.


As a question, ‘whose’ asks the ownership of a noun.

  • Whose keys are these?
  • Whose desk is this?


It’s that simple! Just remember that whose is always possessive and that who’s is always a contraction. If you sound out the contraction and the sentence doesn’t make sense, then it’s not the right form.



1. The writer asks in the passage: Why is the show still so popular, impactful and meaningful to people?

Which statement best describes that answer based on your reading of the passage?

A. Friends aired when there was a limited selection, and it showcased a change in family values.
B. Friends aired on a major network.
C. Friends has been seen by a billion people.
D. Friends helps viewers travel back to a different time.


2. In what months did a traditional TV season air?

A. July to April
B. January to May
C. September to May
D. September to March


3. Based on the passage above, which word would best describe the author’s opinion of Friends?

A. Obtuse
B. Provocative
C. Inept
D. Innovative


4. Which word is the best synonym for the word resonate as used in the passage and defined in the word focus?

A. Suggestive
B. Evocative
C. Allusive
D. Demonstrative


5. ‘Who’s’ is not always a contraction.

A. True
B. False


6. Which of the following questions is incorrect?

A. Whose ball is this?
B. Who’s going with us tonight?
C. Who’s keys are these?
D. Whose line is it anyway?



  1. A
  2. C
  3. D
  4. B
  5. B
  6. C
Jake Pool

Jake Pool

Jake Pool worked in the restaurant industry for over a decade and left to pursue his career as a writer and ESL teacher. In his time at Magoosh, he's worked with hundreds of students and has created content that's informed—and hopefully inspired!—ESL students all across the globe. Jake records audio for his articles to help students with pronunciation and comprehension as he also works as a voice-over artist who has been featured in commercials and on audiobooks. You can read his posts on the Magoosh blog and see his other work on his portfolio page at You can follow him on LinkedIn!
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