Brow Beat

The Week in Culture, “Friends Money” Edition

Aziz Ansari in Master of None.
Aziz Ansari in Master of None.

Photo by K.C. Bailey/Netflix

Imagine a remix of “I’ll Be There for You” where the clapping is replaced by the cha-ching noises from M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes.” That’s this week in culture, which revolves around dollar amounts so high we can barely fathom them: Friends money.

On Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix series, Ansari plays an actor looking to make Friends money, and the show weaves race into its narrative like no other show we’ve seen, writes Slate’s Sharan Shetty. When Ansari’s character wants to expose a network executive’s racism, his agent reminds him that doing so could sabotage his shot at getting ’90s-sitcom-level rich; think of David Schwimmer, she advises him.

Ironically enough, the prospect of Friends money is becoming more and more of a pipe dream: In the age of streaming, nothing’s a hit anymore, writes Willa Paskin, but ratings are actually more important than ever now that it’s so easy for viewers to live within their own cultural bubbles.

One person who’s living in a bubble, surrounded by Friends money, is Donald Trump, who is not so easy to satirize, even when he is hosting SNL, as he did this week. At this point, even his impersonators are raking it in—as in this surprisingly touching story of a longtime Trump impersonator relishing his moment in the sun.

It hardly matters if The Force Awakens is good or bad; either way, it’ll still make Friends money. In adjusting your expectations for the coming Star Wars installment, Forrest Wickman recommends looking to reaction to the trailer for The Phantom Menace as a cautionary tale.

Kidz Bop makes Friends money by sanitizing pop hits. Hamilton money is the Broadway version of Friends money. Shonda Rhimes’ new book deserves to earn Friends money. The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes does not.

A few more links for when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year:

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