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Mandy Patinkin Baffled by the Friends Theme Song

Imagine, would you, being played the Friends theme song and having this look of total unfamiliarity on your face. The freedom that would bring. Mandy Patinkin has his mind on better things. Photo: Mandy Patinkin/Twitter

In the latest installment of Mandy Patinkin’s son’s acclaimed quarantine series of quizzing his adorable parents, Patinkin and Kathryn Grody, on current pop culture and slang, he posted a video entitled “Pop Culture Quiz pt 7,” in which he simply asks his parents, “What is this from?” before playing the more-or-less universally recognizable Friends theme song. And readers, you would think it was a $1,000 stumper on Jeopardy. Grody buzzes in first: After the song’s first line and the iconic claps, she says with total confidence: “Oh! Beatles! ‘Yellow Submarine’!” The song keeps going, and Patinkin looks like he’s trying to solve the algorithm from Tenet, so intense is his expression of simultaneous concentration and confusion. By the time the chorus comes in, he throws his hands up in confusion. His Hail Mary guess? “‘I’ll Be There for You’ starring Jennifer Aniston.” His mind! And in a beautiful moment of marital synergy, this guess prompts Grody to go from saying she hates this game because it makes her feel like she has “fucking Alzheimer’s” to figuring out that it’s the Friends theme song. Patinkin insists that he just made up his answer “because she’s a big TV star on a lot of magazine covers, and it sounded like Jennifer Aniston. I just think of her as, like, really peppy,” and the hand motion he does to express the essence of Jennifer Aniston is beautiful.

What makes this video extra funny is that in yesterday’s video, “pt 6,” their son played them the Seinfeld theme song, and Patinkin, dumbfounded, guessed “Friends.” So he’s aware of Friends as a concept, he’s aware of Jennifer Aniston as a TV actress, and still he went with “‘I’ll Be There for You’ starring Jennifer Aniston.”

It’s remarkable, to watch a brilliant mind at work. It’s like the trivia-game episode of Friends. And in Patinkin’s defense: Would Matt LeBlanc recognize “Finishing the Hat”?

Mandy Patinkin Baffled by the Friends Theme Song