Tag Archives: Friends

Why is gambling such a common theme for TV?

Gambling is one of the most popular pastimes in Canada, and it has been found that nearly 70 percent of the population has participated in some form of gambling in the past. Gambling games are characterized by being generally exciting yet simple to understand. With such a high number of Canadians being familiar with gambling, it has often been used as a theme within TV shows. Certain series have had gambling-specific episodes, while game shows have taken the concept of gambling and made it into a reality competition.

Thrilling and Relatable
One of the major reasons that gambling is often depicted on screen is down to the fact that it is strongly associated with excitement. A common trick to upping the thrill levels in a TV series is to include some elements of chance and gambling, in which the fate of the characters could go either way.

One recurring theme from works of fiction is to give the protagonist a tough ultimatum to deliberate. This dilemma, the result of which could go either way, is often used as a way to form a cliffhanger at the end of the episode. It isn’t always explicitly linked to chance or gambling, but the character’s choice can have dramatic consequences down the line. Jesse Pinkman opting to kill Gale at the end of Breaking Bad Season 3 is an example of this. The character had to wrestle the emotions of murdering an innocent man in order to save his own skin.

There have been some Memorable Gambling Scenes in TV Series
When TV writers want to up the ante in a more obvious way, they often send their characters to the casino. Here, they tend to play well-known games that viewers can relate to. With the rise of online gambling, more people are familiar with the rules of table games like roulette and blackjack, along with slot machines. When it comes to thinking of the most memorable gambling scenes that have been in a fictional TV series, there are quite a few strong moments to choose from.

Fans of Friends will fondly remember “The One in Vegas,” which was the double-length finale to Season 5. There were a lot of gambling scenes throughout the episode, but the most iconic was when Monica was on a run of good fortune at the craps table. Chandler joins her at the table and shouts out various promises to the crowd if she wins, such as that they will buy everyone a round of drinks. He eventually says they’ll get married if she rolls a hard eight, and she does.

Another hilarious gambling scene featured in the British sitcom, Peep Show. The protagonists decide to host a poker night because Mark believes that it is a manly pastime, and he wants to impress Sophie’s new boyfriend, Jeff. Mark doesn’t want to take any risks so folds at every opportunity, while Jez doesn’t know how to play the game but manages to bluff his way through.

Along with fictional series, many viewers will look back with delight on occasions in reality TV shows when people have gambled. There have been a few times in Deal or No Deal when players have been left with a choice between gambling the Banker’s deal to see if they can win the jackpot. Who Wants to be a Millionaire is also renowned for putting players in some tough spots as they aim to take down the ultimate prize.

Gambling is a Great Format for Game Shows
The developers of some of the most popular game shows ever invented have taken elements from gambling in order to create an exciting experience for viewers. Deal or No Deal, mentioned above, is one of the prime examples of a format in which players are constantly required to gamble. The original show was a Dutch offering called Miljoenenjacht, which means Hunt for Money. The 26 box format with regular monetary offers from a banker went on to be used in over forty different countries, including Canada in 2007.

The thrilling aspect of Deal or No Deal is the fact that players are constantly put into a position in which they could potentially lose or gain a lot money. In Canada, Cash Cab is one of the longest-running and most popular game shows. The Discovery Channel show presented by Adam Growe has been on air since 2008 and gives players the chance to gamble frequently with double or nothing questions. It seems that the easy to understand concept of gambling is one that translates perfectly to game show audiences.

Gambling is a common theme for TV series and game shows because it’s something that most viewers can relate to. While not everyone likes to gamble, they may enjoy the thrill of living these tough decisions vicariously through characters or contestants.


Poker Nights, Dating, and Striking: The Lowdown On the Most Close-knit Comedy Casts

Getting on well with the people you work with just makes life a whole lot easier. According to a recent poll from Gallup, 51% of workers aren’t engaged in their work and feel no real connection or joy in what they do on a daily basis. Having fun at work and getting along with your co-workers is crucial for making you feel good, and if there’s one industry where that matters more than arguably anywhere else, it’s comedy! Heck, even if your comedic role means that you aren’t meant to be friends on screen (we’re thinking of the classic foes Jim and Dwight in the American Office here), the chances are you’ll need to be able to have a laugh together off-screen about the fictional bickers you’ve just had, otherwise there is a serious risk that you’re going to end up making a show that is about as engaging as the final season of X Factor USA was. So, how have cast members from some of the biggest comedies over the years managed – or not – to stick together?

Sticking Together: The American Office
Liking each other and being able to have a laugh is, of course, central to getting on, but Steve Carell managed to take things a step further to help endear himself to the rest of the cast. Not only did he make the TV news headlines when he chose to support the 2007 writers’ strike (something that showed unity beyond the acting cast) but he also didn’t use the fame he earned from the release and success of 2005’s 40-Year-Old Virgin film, which grossed 177.4 million USD at the box office, to abandon his role as Michael.

Steve Carell may have helped to keep members of the cast together, but it was the relationship between Jim and Pam that helped this show earn 42 Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Their blossoming on-screen relationship was helped by the fact that, in her own words, Jenna Fischer acknowledged that she developed a genuine bond with John Krasinski. Sadly for US Office superfans (of which there seem to be many), this love did not translate from the small screen to real life, as both actors are now happily married… to other people! This does highlight, though, that turning “fake” love into, at the very least, genuine affection and a real bond in real life can reap dividends on screen. In the case of Jim and Pam, it helped to boost the two actors’ earnings from $20,000 each per episode to $100,000 as the show grew more successful and NBC generated more money from it.

Not Just “Friends”, but Actual Friends!
Another group of actors who got on well and reaped the financial rewards as a result was the cast of Friends. While many people would perhaps imagine that the title of the show precluded the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc and even Courteney Cox-Arquette from having anything to do with each other outside the show, the truth is that it all got a little bit close in real life to “The One in Vegas,” an unforgettable episode as one of the many highlights of casino portrayal in popular culture. In fact, according to a recent interview with Jennifer Aniston, whose illustrious list of previous sponsorships includes Emirates and L’Oreal, the gang were encouraged to meet up outside of the confines of filming and they inevitably ended up playing poker together. The strategy-heavy game, which famously involves bluffing and “poker faces” is generally considered to be a very good bonding activity, and that’s what the crew was going for: a quick, effective way to get the cast to bond. It certainly worked out well enough: Aniston and Co. ended up in a position where they received $1 million each to appear in every episode of the final season!

Becoming More Than Just Friends: The Inbetweeners
One cult comedy show that always made it easy to imagine the cast bonding in real life was British hit comedy The Inbetweeners. The show managed to produce two film cast-offs (the second of which generated a then-record £2.75 million during the opening weekend at the UK box office), and much of this success built upon the lovable characters’ inability to date, making episodes more awkward than a super-cringy exchange in Dragons’ Den! Off-screen, things went a little smoother, as two of the show’s characters, Simon and Tamara (who dated (terribly) on the show) have ended up getting engaged. This goes to show that on-screen relationship failures don’t necessarily end up in real-life failures!

How to Survive The Ups and Downs: The Big Bang Theory
Getting on well and even dating off-screen is a wonderful sign that the cast is getting on, but perhaps a bigger test comes when the members of the cast don’t just date but break up as well. This happened on The Big Bang Theory, one of the biggest comedy shows in the USA, with around 12.6 million total viewers tuning in to see the cliffhanger final episode of season 10. Indeed, while Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki have had on-screen success in their relationship, they seem to have managed to find a way to move on from the break-up of their real-life relationship, with Johnny hugging Kaley’s partner during a visit to the set.

Of course, the true test is not just surviving breakups and living together on the set while filming, but also meeting up once the show has ended. The cast of Scrubs, for instance, reunited and documented their meeting, showing that while the show doesn’t always go on, the friendships made during them can certainly endure!