CFP_ Panel on TV Show ‘Friends’: Popular culture, representation and the portrayal of the Fashion Industry

Martina Topic's picture
January 11, 2020
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Communication, Jewish History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies


It has been 25 years since Friends first aired and 15 since the show ended, however, the show is as popular as it ever was with millions of viewers worldwide still enjoying everyday encounters of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Ross and Chandler. In addition, the show has attracted attention from academics who engaged with analysing semiotics of the show as well as representation.

Recently, Ralph Lauren launched a Rachel Green collection since, in the show, Rachel works in Ralph Lauren for several seasons. Since she also worked in Bloomingdales, the campaign has been launched in that fashion retailer too. See more about the campaign at this article

While Rachel Green, wonderfully portrayed by Jennifer Aniston, has been one of the most favourite characters of the show since it aired, and whilst this popularity of Rachel has now resulted with PR campaigning by fashion designers and retailers, the question is how has Rachel Green, and women in general, been portrayed in the show? What kind of everyday reality did show portray? Was fashion job portrayed as a serious career worth having? Has the show portrayed women who like fashion as ditzy and shallow?

Whilst the show is not new, its popularity warrants further exploration since even new generations are now growing up with Friends. In other words, while we could claim that the show that originally aired in the 1990s was a visionary show that opened up some important debates that were taboo at the time (e.g. LGBTIQ marriages and relationships, which the show tried to normalise through comedy) the question is how we see these dialogues in 2019? In other words, is this representation problematic and out of touch with the current reality, or do we perhaps need it more than ever given the recent rise of populism and extreme ideologies?

These and other issues are the subjects of this panel. Papers are welcome (but not limited to) for the following topics,

The portrayal of fashion

The portrayal of women

The portrayal of OCD

The portrayal of Jewishness

Comparative studies comparing Friends with other popular sitcoms

Women in popular culture

Fashion in popular culture

The role of popular culture in promoting stereotypes

The role of popular culture in opening up public debates and normalising marginal groups

Feminist analyses of popular culture

The feminist theory of fashion

Prospective participants are also welcome to submit proposals for their own panels. Both researchers and practitioners are welcome to submit proposals.

Submissions of abstracts (up to 500 words) with an email contact should be sent to Dr Martina Topić ( by 30 November 2019. Decisions will be sent by 15 December 2019 and registrations are due by 5 January 2020.

The conference fee is GBP 180, and it includes the registration fee, conference materials and meals for a whole day of the conference.

Centre for Research in Humanities and Social Sciences is an organisation originally founded in December 2013 in Croatia. Since July 2016 the Centre is registered in Leeds, UK.

In addition to organising conferences, the Centre has also recently released a report for the EUPRERA project on Women in Public Relations, which can be downloaded from this page:

Further reports are due later this year and next year. Further research projects are planned in the next year too. If you would be interested in collaborating, please speak with us during the conference.

Participants are responsible for finding funding to cover transportation and accommodation costs during the whole period of the conference. This applies to both presenting and non-presenting participants. The Centre will not discriminate based on the origin and/or methodological/paradigmatic approach of prospective conference participants.

Contact Info: 

Dr Martina Topic

Contact Email: