A Real Education

MLB Players Are Learning English from ‘Friends,’ But There Are Way Better Shows

September 20, 2017

The New York Times reported this week that your third-most effective means of wasting time in the mid-‘90s*, the TV show "Friends", is enjoying a weird and unlikely second life in the unlikeliest of places: major league baseball clubhouses, where, for some Latino players, it’s become something of a language guide, a convenient and funny way into English, at least in the context of inexplicably wealthy Caucasian Manhattan twentysomethings who are all terrible at baseball. “Now that it’s on Netflix, I always put it on and watch it,” said Wilmer Flores, a 26-year-old Mets infielder, Venezuelan native, and guy who won’t have to worry about fitting it into the playoffs. “When I get up in the morning, I turn on the TV, and whatever episode is there I’ll watch and keep watching. I stop it when I come to the stadium. When I come home from the stadium, I pick up where I left off.”

This is great! We like "Friends"! "Friends" taught us all sorts of things and one terrible song too. But it’s hardly the TV show that can teach the English language. If you really want to learn a well-rounded take on our impossibly complicated language, here’s what you can learn from some of our other valuable shows as well:

  1. Tamagotchi. 2. “Cracked Rear View” on repeat.*

Seinfeld: We all waste an ungodly amount of time around here.

Game of Thrones: We have a serious thing for soap operas and beheadings and swords and eunuchs, I guess? (Look it up. Or wait, don’t.) . Not nearly this many of us sleep with our siblings though.

This Is Us: A significant portion of us watch television for the SOLE PURPOSE of bawling about the problems of other people. Yeah. Real socio-economic problems, ew gross, desperately overdramatized problems with fictitious TV families OH MY GOD WE’RE ALL SOBBING.

The Big Bang Theory: Here in America we have grown and cultivated a subculture of “nerds,” socially hopeless yet intellectually smart people who figure out how to pay people $180 million to play baseball.

Stranger Things: 13-year-olds come up with the best insults.

13 Reasons Why: You know how some people watch TV for comedy or escapism or action? We’re into teen suicide, I guess.

House of Cards: Yeah sorry, none of our political TV is remotely as f**ed up as what’s in the news section of the New York Times. It makes it weird to watch president shows, trust us.

Alf: Please ignore, very few of the aliens who’ve crash-landed in America are this hip, although literally every one of them eats cats.

Knight Rider: I was going to make a joke about how our cars don’t talk, but I can basically ask my Honda to play that “ooooooo I’m a rebel just for kicks now” song and it listens, so yeah I guess we live in the future, nevermind.

The Simpsons: Basically, just watch all of the first 10 seasons if you ever want to understand another meme in your life.

GLOW: When AT ALL POSSIBLE, talk like female wrestlers from the 1980s. Seriously. We’d all do this if we hadn’t learned it as a first language.

Twin Peaks: Under no circumstances should you learn any English from this show, or you run the risk of walking into a coffee shop, ordering a dark-red evil amorphous blob, speaking backwards for 20 seconds and then screaming for no reason.

Fuller House: Ignore, nobody actually talks like this.

Saturday Night Live: See that guy playing Donald Trump? TRUMP, THE ACTUAL PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, GETS REALLY MAD AT HIM IN REAL LIFE. Seriously, the ostensible leader of the free world loses his merry shit over a TV show, this is how TV works here, apparently.

The A-Team: Scrap “Friends.” Please learn everything about English from “The A-Team.” It’ll make you, and by extension our culture, significantly improved.


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