How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization
David Hopkins
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Funny, I guess I really did not watch television at the end of the 90s. I was getting a grad degree that completed in 2001, I had to do a grad assistantship to pay for tuition, so teaching English-101N for nonnative speakers; my wife and we’re having fun hanging around with the foreign students who were here on student visas, showing them funny American pastimes, laughing a lot, often at ourselves. One night for example, we rented a van for a voluntary night out. We took mostly Chinese, and other Asian students — but there was a mix of cultures; the Chinese sticks in my mind. We took them to eat at a local, much-beloved roadside barbecue stand, for dinner, then to the horse races in Fairmont Park near East St.Louis, Illinois. We taught them how to make a $2.00 bet. Wow! Fun times.

Then, in 2006, we moved from Chicago to Hangzhou, China to live for three years, and that is where I learned about Friends! The television show! Some Chinese friends we had loved Friends!

Pirated DVDs were only 1.00 each at the night market, and our friends loved it. Why? One reason is Rachel. Oh, they loved someone so thin (ALL the Americans on Friends are thin!) Americans are famous throughout the world for being gigantic pigs “because you eat too much meat, no good”! So, I learned a little bit about friends. I didn’t really enjoy watching it. It’s plot is so lame, and predictable. We binge-watched a set of 6 Feet Under; that was more our style. Oh, but Jennifer Anniston IS pretty, no doubt. I didn’t like her then — I’m not too much celebrity-crush guy, but twenty years after friends show, she still looks good, seems like a pretty good actress. I have no doubt in my mind that it’s not easy to walk around looking like that. Think about it, people treat you like a Barbie Doll all over the world; that’s probably as difficult as a Chess Club member.

Oh, the thin guy who starred in Prison Break (never watched it)? He is thin; there were 20 foot tall billboards of that guy selling blue jeans in the shopping center areas of our town. (Hangzhou: population 6 million). Them folks did love thin people, I think. I may have misunderstood, but that was my interpretation.

Nothing about dumbing down America from me, sorry. I met some dumbasses, sure, but mostly I met intelligent people from China, the EU, and Russia, & Scandinavian countries who were very adventurous and smart, studying the Chinese language at Zhejiang Unuversity, and my wife’s coworkers who were business professionals; the majority had Engineering degrees…some were probably former Chess Club members!

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