English Comp 2
Rhetorical Analysis Essay 3
April 7, 2014
Many television shows and movies give us entertaining portrayals of childbirth. For the sake of drama, comedy and overall entertainment, the writers have to make their depiction less realistic. While the March of Dimes website article discusses the many realities of giving birth to triplets, the 100th episode of Friends, a sitcom, gives us a very different view. While both of these views are quite different from each other, they both have benefits for the receiver. While one format, the article, is more informative, explaining the scientific realities of birthing triplets, the other format, the sitcom, gives the receiver a visual and further insights on the emotional aspects of the event.
Friends is a popular sitcom television show that takes us on a comical and emotional journey through many life events of a tightly wound ground of six best friends. Monica and Ross are brother and sister, Rachel is Monica’s best friend in high school and Ross’s one true love, Chandler is Ross’s best friend and old college roommate, and Joey became Chandler’s roommate and is now part of the group. This connects Monica and Rachel, who live across the hall in the same apartment building, and Phoebe is a former roommate of Monica, who remained friends with her even after she moved somewhere else. In the 100th episode we see Phoebe giving birth to her brother’s triplets. Her brother Frank Jr. and his girlfriend Alice, who is 45, are in desperate need for a surrogate mother. They decide to ask Phoebe because she is their only option left. Phoebe says yes, and the insemination is successful. Except when she goes to the doctor to get her sonogram, there is a huge surprise. The doctor tells her there are three separate heartbeats! Now Phoebe is pregnant with her brother’s triplets. The 100th episode is when Phoebe is actually giving birth to the triplets and it takes us through the entire event right in the hospital room.
March of Dimes Article
Throughout the March of Dimes article, they discuss what goes on during childbirth and the numerous risks of having triplets. There are several differences between this educational article and the 100th Friends episode. During the episode of Friends, Phoebe is very calm and has very little pain. While Phoebe is in the middle of a contraction she even says “Oh that really wasn’t that bad!” The episode makes it seem like it’s not a very big deal but in all actuality having a contraction, especially when having triplets, is typically extremely painful. Another way that the scholarly article differs from the mass media version of child birth is the chances of the babies being born prematurely. The March of Dimes states that “more than 90 percent of triplets, and virtually all quadruplets and higher-order multiples are born premature”. This obviously differs from Frank and Alice’s children who are born right on time, with no worries of prematurity, and are at a healthy birth weight. The article also says that “most triplets weigh less than 3 pounds”. In contrast, the triplets shown in the Friends episode weigh a normal weight of 6-8 pounds. Most likely the Friends writers did not want the audience to have to be worried about the size of the triplets, or be distracted by any such health issue, as it could be off-putting to the story line of the episode. Another way that the scholarly article differs from the mass media adaptation of childbirth, is that the show is trying to make light of a very heavy situation so that more people will be interested in watching it. Many women giving birth to multiple children are at high risk for many diseases like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure. Whereas in the television show, Phoebe seems to have no trouble whatsoever during the entire birthing process, making it appear that giving birth to triplets is no big deal. The Friends episode doesn’t show that there are any complications after the birth, the triplets come out healthy and happy, even with their eyes are already open, which is not realistic. Along with all these differences, another obvious distinction is, that doctors don’t typically allow is a lot of visitors in the room while a woman is giving birth.
During this episode, we see all five of her friends, plus her brother Frank in the actual delivery room waiting for the babies to be born. In a real life situation, this is something that would definitely not happen, as only one of two family members are usually allowed in the room, but all of the drama that her friends cause in the delivery room is what makes the episode so fun to watch. Events such as Joey having a kidney stone, Monica and Chandler deciding to be in a committed relationship, and Rachel looking for a hot male nurse to date, add lots of extra interesting little side stories to go along with the main story line. Although Phoebe’s pregnancy is the central theme for the episode, the writers have added more drama and comedy to the episode to keep the audience entertained. Whereas in real life the visitors are usually waiting in the waiting room patiently, focusing only on the woman giving birth. One other big plot twist in this episode is the fact that the doctors have read the sonogram wrong. The whole time they thought it was going to be two boys and a girl, but in the end it was two girls and boy. Frank had promised Chandler that he would name his second boy after him, so when it came out as a girl and he kept that as her name it was very funny. But what the audience has to realize is the chances of the doctor reading the sonogram wrong for up to 39 weeks is very uncommon.
It is important for an upcoming freshman to be able to use different formats when he/she is writing. This will help them to understand different points of view and be able to detect different tones and context. The scholarly article was very good about giving specific detail on the subject, showing the reader different statistics and information on what giving birth to triplets is really like, whereas the television episode describes the emotional effects of having a child and gives the viewer a more in depth visual. Both formats are important to take advantage of when writing an essay because having different outlooks and opinions on subjects are very important. A writer must always think about his/her audience before writing. The reason people watch Friends is because it is visually entertaining and fun to watch, but if you were pregnant with triplets and wanted to know the cold hard facts about what you are about to go through then reading the scholarly article would be more productive.
1. "Sign in." Multiples: Twins, Triplets and beyond. N.p., Mar. 2009. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
2. Crane, David, prod. "Friends/The One with the Triplets." The One with the Triplets. NBC. Manhattan, New York, 8 Oct. 1998. Television.