Pretty Much Pop #16 Considers the Sitcom “Friends” 25 Years Later

Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt exam­ine the con­ven­tions, tech­niques, and stay­ing pow­er of the beloved ’90s sit­com. Are we sup­posed to iden­ti­fy with, or idol­ize, or mere­ly like these peo­ple? What makes the for­mu­la work, did it sus­tain itself over its 10-year run, was it suc­cess­ful­ly repli­cat­ed (like by How I Met Your Moth­er or by Chuck Lorre?), and what parts haven’t aged well?

We reviewed a ton of arti­cles to prep for this that you may want to read:

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Incredible Mental Math Gymnastics on “Countdown”

Count­down is a British TV game show revolv­ing around words and num­bers. In the num­bers round, con­tes­tants select six of twen­ty-four shuf­fled tiles with num­bers on them. Next, a com­put­er gen­er­ates a ran­dom three-dig­it tar­get num­ber and the con­tes­tants have thir­ty sec­onds to get as close to that num­ber as pos­si­ble by com­bin­ing the six num­bers through addi­tion, sub­trac­tion, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion and divi­sion. This mem­o­rable episode of Count­down aired in March 1997 and starred James Mar­tin and his rather unusu­al way of arriv­ing at the tar­get num­ber of 952.

One YouTube user sug­gest­ed a dif­fer­ent way: 6 x 75 = 450; 450 ÷ 50 = 9; 100 + 3 = 103; 9 x 103 = 927; 927 + 25 = 952

I found yet anoth­er way: 100 + 3 = 103; 103 x 6 = 618; 618 x 75 = 46,350; 46,350 ÷ 50 = 927; 927 + 25 = 952

What about you? Any more sug­ges­tions?

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Math Cours­es

Math­e­mat­ics in Movies: Har­vard Prof Curates 150+ Scenes

Mul­ti­pli­ca­tion: The Vedic Way

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.