The one where the cast of Friends tried to speak Dutch — and failed

Can we interest you in a Dutch lesson? 😬

It may come as no surprise that the most popular sitcom of the 1990s, Friends, was also a hit in the Netherlands. But did you catch these Dutch references sprinkled throughout the show?

It makes sense that Dutch references make an appearance in some of the episodes. After all, New York was originally New Amsterdam, with Dutch settlements in the Americas starting as early as 1613.

READ MORE | Did the Dutch really buy New York for 24 dollars?

But, enough ancient history let’s head back to the nineties and see four times the Friends made a mess of our favourite guttural language.

The one with the bestiality

Now, that’s far too racy to be the real title of the episode, but there was one incredible episode where they snuck in a bestiality joke because it was in Dutch.

In the episode, Ross is trying to learn Dutch to snag a sweet apartment from a dying Dutch woman (we always knew he was a bad egg). Armed with a Dutch phrasebook, he sits in Central Perk and tries it out on barista Gunther who unexpectedly speaks Dutch right back.

Yep, did ya hear that? “Jij hebt seks met ezels” or, as we English speakers like to say, “You have sex with donkeys.” Mic DROP. We thought Friends was supposed to be rated PG?!

READ MORE | Tom Holland in Holland?! 7 times the Netherlands appeared in Hollywood movies

Interestingly, it was a Dutch guy working at the Dutch Consulate in Los Angeles who got called in to make the joke and help the actors with their pronunciation. Erik Grouwstra told De Volkskrant that the joke worked because people would only understand the words ‘sex’.

“It was racy enough, but people probably wouldn’t get angry easily because they didn’t know exactly what was being said,” he explained.

It did lead to quite a few threads on Yahoo Answers asking what on earth ‘azul’ or ‘asil’ meant.

The one with the ‘Dutch’ girl (who clearly wasn’t Dutch)

In this episode, they didn’t actually try to speak Dutch but they did try to pronounce the infamous Dutch G.

The plot line is simple: the gang is playing football on Thanksgiving when an attractive woman walks up and introduces herself as Marga. Her accent could have been confused for Russian, German or any language other than Dutch.

In fact, as one YouTube commenter said, Joey actually pronounces her name better than she can herself.

But, there’s even more pure Friends gold when Chandler asks Joey: “Where do the Dutch come from?”

The one where the identity thief steals the Dutch language

In this episode, Monica has her identity stolen. When she goes to catch the culprit, she tells the identity thief her name is “Monana” and that it’s Dutch (um, okay Monica). 😂

READ MORE | Names in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide to Dutch names

Like being caught lying about skills on your resume (is my boss anywhere nearby?), the identity thief just happens to speak Dutch too. “May I have this dance?” she asks. Grab some popcorn, skip to minute 2:55 and let the awkwardness ensure:

The one where they prey on a dying Dutch woman

Ah, New York housing! Even in the ’90s, it was hard to find a good apartment (actually, that sounds a lot like the Netherlands), so if you hear of a fragile old Dutch lady dying, you better send your best wishes to snatch up that housing right up before she’s cold.

But, spoiler alert, she ain’t dead yet. Cue Ross awkwardly pretending he and the dying Dutch woman are best friends. One problem? The Old Dutch lady doesn’t speak English.

“Nice to meet a friend of my mother’s,” the woman says in Dutch. Only she’s also not the best Dutch speaker. Watch and learn how to be as excruciatingly awkward as Ross.

But perhaps we could take a leaf out of their book to try to get a good apartment in the Dutch housing crisis.

What do you think of these Dutch moments in one of the most successful American sitcoms of all time? Tell us in the comments below!

Featured Image: William Warby/Flickr/CC2.0

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).

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  1. Some of those Dutch pronunciations were actually quite good. Especially the talk between Gunther and Ross was very comprehensible. The other talks I had to listen twice to understand what they were saying

  2. I think they butchered the language, these people are so obviously not Dutch… I mean, Gunther and Martha? those are not even Dutch names… I think they thougt the Netherlans is the same as Germany or something.. at least Ross knew all Dutch people live in windmills!


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