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

It may come as no surprise that the most popular sitcom of the 1990s, Friends, was just as popular in the Netherlands. But did you catch these Dutch references sprinkled through the seasons?

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.

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

Was it the real title of the episode? Oh no, that’s far too racy. But there was one incredible episode where a Bestiality joke snuck in 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?!

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 either 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 do try to pronounce the infamous Dutch G.

The plotline 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). 😂

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 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!

Feature Image: William Warby/Flickr
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2019, and was fully updated in May 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.

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3 COMMENTS

  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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