Alternate Universe Friends

A peculiar Ren’Py fanfic now available through the website, this probably-copyright-infringing game is liberally illustrated with photoshopped screen captures from the TV show. It’s not entirely clear whether the images are stills, or overlays assembled on the fly.  It’s a Friends episode in a universe where Hitler won World War II.

The narrative frame is introduced from (presumably) the real-world Friends universe, with the crowd all gathered around speculating on what it would be like if the Axis had won the war. They chatter for just a few seconds (Ross: “I’d be half Japanese.”) before the game begins.

So you’re immediately waiting for the punchline, and this (for me) was a major part of the game experience. There’s no one player character. Instead, you’re given little choices, about what the characters say, and a few choice-points that seem to influence the plot. I didn’t play it more than once — I was never into the show, and the game is enough like the show for me.

The minor choices in dialog set up different retorts from the other characters, which are bland-witty in much the way I recall from the TV program. A great deal of the discussion is about a dress of Monica’s, which looks good but is not appropriate for any particular occasion, so the other characters all chime in with ultimately unhelpful ideas about where she can wear it. There’s a sub-plot about Joey’s job, which is a minor acting gig but which may lead to something better.

So what about Nazi New York?

–Well, it just never seems to come up. Apart from a swastika discretely photoshopped into a mail carrier’s shoulder bag, Nazis don’t make an appearance.

I remember seeing Mr. T doing _Friends_ New Year’s predictions on the Conan O’Brien show, and he couldn’t keep a straight face: big black man with a mohawk and heavy gold chains cracking jokes and giggling. One prediction was, “The cast of Friends discovers there are, in fact, black people in New York City.”

I kept waiting for something like that, but, unless I missed it, it just doesn’t happen. As far as I can tell, this is just a straight fanfic episode of _Friends_ that happens to be set in Nazi New York. I don’t know the show well, so maybe the author is doing something clever, or maybe there are veiled allusions to the war or to racism in the dialog, but I didn’t find anything.

My theory is the author just wanted to put forth a _Friends_ fanfic and used the alternate universe ploy to workaround copyright issues by claiming parody.

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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