Sometimes Phoebe speaks Italian (and Other Stuff about Undecided Voters)

If you’re like me, you’ve seen every episode of the show Friends. Not because you let it control your life when it first aired, and you organized your whole existence around making sure you didn’t miss an episode, but because you can still turn on the TV at any time of day and find it on a least two different channels. Of course, we own the DVDs, too, but try not to judge us…

Also, if you’re like me, you know the show so well that you feel like the characters are YOUR friends. And once you get to that point, there’s something comforting about watching the show, even though you know it by heart.

So did you ever notice that sometimes Phoebe speaks Italian, and sometimes she doesn’t? There’s an episode where she calls someone a dirty word in Italian, and then says, “Well I guess Italian is one of the languages you don’t speak.” And there’s an episode where she speaks to Joey’s grandmother in Italian, and surprises herself – apparently she didn’t know she spoke Italian. And then there’s at least one episode where she doesn’t know Italian when Rachel is dating Paolo. This demonstrates something – not about the writers, but about us as an audience.

What it demonstrates is that we are happy and ready to suspend disbelief if it will facilitate our own entertainment. On one level, this is a good thing, because otherwise who could watch a time travel movie? (And if you know me, you know I love anything with time travel in it). But on another level, there’s a danger here, in that we are often too ready to forgive inconsistencies and even ignore reality when someone is telling us what we want to hear.

Apply this principle to the media and politics and you can see why it’s problematic. Normally, I’m the first one to defend Saturday Night Live and it’s particular brand of parody. But last night they made fun of undecided voters. Really, SNL? REALLY?? Actually, I’ve decided whom I’m voting for – but to imply that undecided voters are stupid or uninformed is… well… stupid and uninformed. Maybe those undecided voters are simply not ignoring inconsistencies, and not allowing their preconceived assumptions to let them accept everything their favorite candidate says because he’s telling them what they want to hear.

Here’s to you, undecided voters! I respect you for acknowledging that this election (and any election) is about choosing the lesser of two evils, and that’s not a choice to be made casually. Of course, I hope you vote for my guy, but even if you don’t, you should feel pretty special since all the money and energy the candidates are spending on campaigning – it’s all for you! Seriously, how often does such a small minority get such special treatment?

The truth is, I think there are a lot more undecided voters than the polls suggest (and I think the candidates know that). In fact, I think polls are a joke, because they are automatically skewed by the very fact that some people are polled and others aren’t. The demographic category of people who respond to polls vs. people who do not respond to polls is enough to make all polls invalid. Not to mention the category of people who tell the truth in polls vs. people who don’t tell the truth in polls. Hmmm… maybe we should take a poll to see what percentage of people tell the truth in polls…


Jim Papandrea

My Books

P.S. Don’t forget… in a few weeks I will be launching my NEW blog, focused on making every day of our lives a spiritual pilgrimage. More to come…


About Jim Papandrea

Jim Papandrea is an author, educator, and singer/songwriter. Visit his website at:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sometimes Phoebe speaks Italian (and Other Stuff about Undecided Voters)

  1. I also religiously watch Friends and I actually never noticed that about Phoebe! Good observation. Also I religiously watch Saturday Night Live and write a blog on it (, and the undecided voter commercial was hilarious. It just goes to show you there are some people out there that are this stupid to not know anything about an election. Not quite as dumb as SNL made it out to be, but pretty damn close. I always enjoy SNL seasons that are election years. SNL always comes up with great sketches to make fun of both running candidates. I like your blog! You have some interesting topics!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s