Friends: the mother of all sitcoms, the beginning of an era mentioned in products such as Scrubs, How I Met You’re Mother, Brooklyn 99 and many films. A Masterpiece, a Must Have, a series that you must have seen at least once in your life to at least understand the irony and, we want to exaggerate, to understand how to approach life.
Once you’ve seen a sitcom like Friends it will be difficult, if not impossible, to rewatch. The article you are reading is written by a “crazy woman” who has now reached the thirteenth without ever being bored, no, even if she knows Chandler’s lines by heart both in Italian and in English, even if she can recite each scene screaming “I know” with Monica, “We were on a break” with Ross or that amazing “Ross married Rachel in Vegas and got divorce, AGAIN!” In fact, this article is very difficult to write as the sitcom in question is the reason why we are now here to talk about movies and TV series. However, it will not be a review, from this point of view we will limit ourselves only to saying that it is a series that saves you many times: if you are sad you watch Friends to smile with a stupid joke from Chandler, if you are happy you watch Friends to rejoice singing together with Phoebe ” Smelly Cat” and if you’re angry watch Friends to figure out how NOT to react to Ross Geller. We could go on for pages and pages but today we will focus on the only problem this sitcom brings: the Italian dubbing. We’re kidding, this is not a problem of the sitcom but of the dubbing itself, which is often difficult to render perfectly. It is true, it is permissible to change what is said a little for the purpose of rendering, but sometimes certain translations are just nonsense and today we will bring you 5 of the most sensational.
FRIENDS: 5 examples of poorly rendered dubbing in Italian
- Let’s start calmly, with completely different translations due to the adaptation that he would not have made respecting the original.
5×19: Pizza delivery. In this episode while Ross tries to flirt with the pizza girl, Joey has invited the Italian grandmother to watch an episode of “Law and Order” together in which the boy plays a small part. In the original version, Joey’s grandmother is Italian and does not understand half a word of English, so much so that when the boys address her trying to speak in Italian, they create magical scenes, in which Phoebe amazes her friends by speaking it perfectly with the Grandmother. A fantastic scene that an Italian appreciates, feeling a strange sensation at the same time. The problem here exists when, not being able to change the origin of Joey’s grandmother, to justify the change of language of Phoebe and the boys, the dubbing of her decides to make her a little “headless” and deaf. That way when Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Ross and Phoebe address her, they yell and repeat things to be heard. Good yield from, even if in the original it is definitely more fun.
- Question Pablo: In the first season, precisely in episode 7 “By candlelight”, Rachel gets to know the charming Pablo from Spain. In the original version however, our Jennifer when she brings “Pablo” to her friends she introduces him as “Paolo” a beautiful boy who comes from Italy. In the scene where the boy recites a poem to Rachel to impress her, the language he uses is Italian, while in the dubbed version of her he speaks in Spanish. We understand for ourselves what was the reason for this change, namely the need to diversify the language spoken between Pablo and the boys. It’s not a serious thing it’s true but the fact is that the scene loses all its magic, luckily Ross’s teasing of Pablo makes you laugh in both versions.
- Joy’s handbag: episode 5 x 13. This is where things get serious. One of the funniest episodes of the TV series sees Joey having to do an important audition, so he decides to buy a “man” bag from Ralph Lauren, where Rachel works. The scene we want to deal with is precisely the one in which Rachel gives Joey her purse for the first time, claiming that she is also a man (even if she doesn’t believe it herself). So here we come to a nice exchange:
- Joey: But is so odd, how a woman’s purse, looks so good on me a man!
- Rachel: (doubtful of this) EXACTLY, Unisex!
- Joey: Maybe you need sex, I had sex a couple days ago
- Rachel: Oh no Joey, U-N-I sex (facendo lo spelling)
- Joey: Well, i ain’t gonna say “No” to that (avvicinandosi a lei)
However, the Italian version proposes Rachel who replies: “Exactly! Without sex” and Joey promptly says “you’ll be without sex, I did it two days ago”. So far nothing bad. At this point Rachel replies: “No Joey, the shoulder strap is sexless”, we’re still more or less there… Joey’s final line, however, is rendered with: “Well, if you’re on a diet call me”. Now, what Joey meant is very clear and kind of in line with the original punchline. The fact is that it makes no sense in exchanging jokes with Rachel, because in Italian she specifies what she is talking about. Words officially used in Italian are completely different from English ones.
- Phoebe, Pheebs, Phoebe: One of the most important voiceover changes is the one made to the names of our protagonists. In fact, in English all six use abbreviations for each other such as “Mon”, “Rach” or “Pheebs”. Nothing bad in the end, even if in Italian the pronunciation “Febe” is very out of place. The problem arises when this particular name is the subject of a funny banter between the girls. In the episode 4 x 14 in fact, Phoebe wants to console Rachel and, stroking her hair, says: “Oh poor thing”. Rachel responds accordingly by saying, “Do I do so pity?” giving the line to Phoebe who claims to return the favor because she and Monica always call her “poor thing”. The funny original joke, however, was completely different:
- P: Ohhhh Pheebs
- R: Honey that’s you’re name
- P: (astounded) That’s short for phoebe? I thought that’s just what we called each other! (Is that short for Phoebe? I thought it was a way of calling each other!)
Obviously the change was made due to the different pronunciation in Italian and in the end it’s not serious it’s true (even if it makes Phoebe pass for a poor thing in a completely no-sense way) but leaving the pronunciation “Fibi” would not have done an injustice to on the contrary, no one would have avoided that horrible “Phebe”.
- We conclude with the joke that is in the top 3 of the best of the series, the one that always makes us laugh even if we now know when, how and why it is pronounced, even without watching the scene. Yes, let’s talk about “But we had broken up!”. Ross Galler, or “Ross the divorcer” (as we like to call him) screams this line for 7 seasons straight, sometimes whispering it or trying to make up for it with depressing attempts; in short (in addition to the 3 divorces) is the distinctive phrase of him. It’s a pity that in Italian I can’t convey the hilarity and effective doubtfulness of the thing. In English Rachel asks Ross for a break by saying the word Break, but Ross understands that her girlfriend wants to break up, because in English the word stands for both break and break, differentiating only in context. The misunderstanding led to funny gags for 7 seasons in the original. In Italian however, even if the effort is to be appreciated, the gags don’t really make sense, because Rachel asks for a pause for reflection while Ross understands that the pause between them means a break. A little hard to believe.
In any case, Friends, the mother of sitcoms is the only one of its kind that can never get tired, the only one that can entertain even if you know every single word by heart. Talking about these mistakes we didn’t want to take away your desire to see it indeed! We wanted to convince you to switch to English. Well I’m going to continue the 13th rewatch.