The one where we did a poll on Friends

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
January 31, 2018, 1:02 PM GMT+0

YouGov asks Friends viewers what they think of the titular characters

Following its recent arrival on Netflix in the UK, the TV show Friends is undergoing something of a revival at the moment.

More than a decade after the finale aired (and more than two decades since the show began), the show is still fondly remembered by millions. New YouGov Omnibus research finds that two thirds of Brits (67%) have watched at least a few episodes of Friends, with 25-44 year olds being the most likely to have watched the show (at 85-87%).

Despite the show being a permanent fixture of E4 for many years, there is a noticeable viewing gap among Britain’s youngest adults. A quarter 18-24 year olds (27%) have never seen Friends, a rate more than twice as high as their immediate elders (11% of 25-34 year olds and 13% of 35-44 year olds).

Nevertheless, the show’s youngest viewers seem to have taken it to heart just as strongly as their immediate elders. Among 18-24 year olds who have watched Friends, 35% say they love the show and 36% say they like it – virtually identical figures to 25-34 year old viewers, of whom 34% love the show and 37% like it.

Who’s the best Friend?

As well as attitudes towards the show itself, YouGov also asked Friends viewers what they think of the titular characters.

Britain’s best Friend is Chandler Bing, with 20% of Friends viewers saying he is their favourite. Chandler is especially liked by those who say they "love" the show, with 31% choosing him as their favourite main character.

Joey comes next, on 17%, followed by Phoebe on 15% and Rachel on 13%. The Geller family perform poorly, with Ross and Monica the favourites of only 6% and 5% of Friends viewers respectively.

Men are more likely than women to be fans of Joey (20% vs 14%), while women in turn are more likely to prefer Phoebe (18% vs 11%), making her the joint-favourite Friend among women (alongside Chandler).

In terms of personal attributes, Phoebe is seen as the nicest Friend (25%), while Chandler is seen as the funniest (31%) and Joey as the most fun (37%). Rachel is by far seen as the most attractive of the Friends (50%), and also the most popular choice for someone to go on a date with, at 21%. (The disparity between the two numbers is because women acknowledge Rachel is attractive, but would prefer to date one of the male characters).

Again, the Geller siblings only score highly on the negative attributes – Monica is seen as the least nice of the Friends (19%) while brother Ross is seen as the most annoying (26%).

Ross and Rachel were on a break… but that doesn’t get Ross off the hook

One of the most infamous plot points on the decade-long will-they-won’t-they storyline of Ross and Rachel’s romance is their relationship “break”, during which Ross slept with another woman.

Among those Friends viewers who are familiar with the storyline, 61% back Ross’s interpretation that he and Rachel were indeed on a break, while only 19% disagree (the remaining 20% don’t know).

Nevertheless, for many Brits Ross’s frequent cries of “we were on a break!” are not enough to get him off the hook. Asked whether it was acceptable to have sex with someone else while “on a break”, the general public is split, with 41% saying it is acceptable while 37% say it isn’t (including 30% of those who accept that the couple were on a break at the time).

Men and women take opposing views on the subject. While 46% of men say Ross’s actions are acceptable compared to 33% who think they are unacceptable, 40% of women believe he is in the wrong compared to 36% who think his actions were ok.