This Guy Built a Robot to Write New Episodes of Friends

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Friends
The cast of Friends. Photo: NBC/Getty Images

Miss Friends? Don’t settle for yet another rerun of the classic ‘90s sitcom. Given the text of every Friends episode ever, a recurrent neural network can generate new scripts that are funnier than the originals by virtue of their sheer absurdity. Scottish cartoonist Andy Pandy set up such a bot, and posted several examples of its screenwriting prowess on Twitter over the weekend.

The bot does a good job simulating all the subtleties of Friends, like Chandler beginning sentences with “so,” and being “inside a muffin” (???), Joey talking in his famous “curling voice” (???), everyone crying and shouting about babies, and guest star Jean-Claude Van Damme.

And computer-generated banter like “Yeah!” “Okay!” “Okay.” “Yeah!” really captures the Kauffman/Crane dialogue magic that kept the show running for 15 seasons. With the ability for algorithms to iterate infinitely (and websites to capitalize on nostalgia), it could run for 15 more, online.

Oddly, or perhaps fittingly, Pandy’s isn’t even the first such sitcom-writing AI. An even more garbled one, based on just the first season’s scripts, was created by Tom Armitage back in 2014. Here’s some sample dialogue:

PHOEBE

Raindrops on roses and rabbits and kittens, Rachel and Monica turn to look at her. I believe it.

MONICA

I’m-I’m-I’m glad you smashed her watch?

PHOEBE

I let go of my hair, my head will fall off.

RACHEL

Mon, look what I said the other day about you making love with your socks on, but it isn’t.

Armitage even went so far as to feed his scripts into a CGI moviemaker, creating watchable episodes for the die-hards.

In the future, all sitcom writers will be replaced by Markov chains, and TV will be a lot funnier for it.

Friends Is Even Better Written by a Robot