Correlation and causation with Friends

There has been a lot of talk about the TV show Friends in 2021, especially related to the reunion of the cast. I have written about the show before (in Danish), and while it is not a show that I am going to watch again anytime soon, there are a few scenes that might be useful for teaching purposes.

Specifically, I used a few clips in the past when I was teaching students about how correlation does not imply causation. The first clip is about a conversation between Joey and Rachel on why their fridge broke down. The second clip is a conversation between most of the friends about what happens when Phoebe visits the dentist.

Of course, the examples are superficial and I have primarily used the two examples in my introdoctory teaching to let students discuss correlation and causality in the simplest of terms. My experience is that both examples work well.

Last, when teaching statistics, you might also consider using data related to Friends. Emil Hvitfeldt has released an R package with the entire transcript from the TV show Friends. The package is on CRAN. There is some good material on how to analyse the data in the TidyTuesday videos from David Robinson and TidyX. Noteworthy, this is not the only R package related to Friends. You also have the centralperk package that enables you to get random quotes from Friends.

If you would like to analyse data from other TV shows, you can also check out the entire transcript from The Office. For examples on how to analyse this data, I can highly recommend the blog posts by Eric Ekholm (part 1, part 2, part 3).