And that’s that! We sped through the entire run of Friends on Netflix in a time frame short enough to make me feel a wee bit upset with myself. It was weird to enter a world where throwing on an episode of this show wasn’t the immediate go to activity when we had some down time. With that, I have some closing thoughts on the remaining seasons, as well as a couple of thoughts from previous seasons that I forgot to include in the last couple iterations of this. Onward!
1) The Friends are all real nosy
This is something I meant to put on the last breakdown but it certainly hasn’t gone away so it is just as relevant here.
I get that this is a very tight knit group of well, friends, but wow are these guys ever up in each other’s business at every single turn. Anytime anyone enters a room the first demand is to know what everyone is talking about/doing/etc. “Hey what are you guys laughing about?” “Hey what are you guys talking about?” “Who are you guys talking about?” And don’t even think about not telling them as they are not going to let it go. “Oh nothing.” “No who were you talking about?” “Come on guys tell me what’s so funny.” Dude, ease off! Maybe this isn’t about you! Mind your shit!
2) Rachel calls a lot of people bitches and whores
I don’t even know if I mean this as a criticism but has anyone else noticed just how many punch-lines involve Rachel, almost always undeservedly, calling another girl a whore or a bitch? It’s just odd is all.
3) Everyone actively hates Ross’s career
I am still no fan of Ross but this is one area where I do genuinely feel for the guy. Career wise, he has accomplished a lot. However, a recurring theme of the show is that nobody else could care less about this dude’s job in any way. They tell him it’s boring and often try and put him in his place by saying he’s lying about being a doctor (which he technically is. A doctor I mean. Not lying.). So while I still think Ross is just the absolute worst, any scene involving his life’s work being disparaged does bring me a little closer to being a teensy bit on his side. Though he almost always goes on to immediately destroy any and all good will he has achieved. Case in point…
4) Why can’t they just let Ross be an asshole?
The character of Ross is largely a condescending asshole, but often the show has to throw in a little aside to make sure he doesn’t go too far in that direction. I know this has happened a few times in earlier seasons as I recall making a mental note about it. Unfortunately I didn’t actually make a physical note about them so the specific examples have largely escaped me now. I guess stuff like having Ross be so ridiculous about believing Mark wants to sleep with Rachel, only to have it end up being true later on. Things like that.
For this run of episodes, I actually did make note of one example of this. Rachel is late to go somewhere with Ross, I forget where exactly. Before allowing her to explain why exactly she was late, he goes on this long tirade about how she was probably at a sale or off doing something selfish. It’s so unprovoked and out of nowhere that it’s jarring and of course they undermine his prick behavior with the revelation that although she was late because she found out her dad had a heart attack, she would have been late anyway because she was indeed at a sale at the time she found out. Just let Ross be an asshole! You don’t need to throw in “ahhhh he was right! She’s so selfish!” Be bold and let your prick character actually be a prick.
5) Joey shouldn’t even be able to get dressed at this point
From the very beginning, Joey has certainly never been a smart character. At the very least he could be called “dim”. By the end of the show however, this character has gone so far past stupid that he shouldn’t be able to function on any level. In the early seasons he would say stupid things and every now and then it would take him a few extra seconds to sort out what was happening around him. By the later seasons, he can’t do simple math without a calculator, it takes him 20 seconds to process Chandler and Monica had twins after seeing them each with a baby, and he apparently no longer knows how to use air quotes despite using them correctly earlier in the series.
The worst though, is where he needs to speak French for an upcoming audition. Phoebe is fluent and offers to teach him. This leads to a relentlessly unfunny piece of business where Joey spouts gibberish and assumes he’s speaking proper French. At one point all he needs to do is repeat the words Phoebe is saying and he can’t do it. Anyone can repeat words! What is this?! What makes it even worse is that Joey firmly believes he is in fact speaking completely fluent French. That’s insane! I don’t care how dumb you are, you can tell when the sounds you’re saying don’t match the ones you’re hearing. It would be slightly more tolerable if the joke was funny, but it is certainly not and they spend about 5 minutes of the episode devoted solely to repeating it again and again.
In the end, instead of actually convincing Joey he cannot speak the language, Phoebe makes up this elaborate back story so the casting agent thinks he’s mentally handicapped (which let’s face it, he really is at this point) and Joey learns nothing. I mean why risk temporarily hurting your friend’s feelings when instead you can allow him to continue on misguided and have him potentially put his career at risk countless more times. All of this leads a little into my next point…
6) I would argue this show makes a case AGAINST having a close group of Friends
I believe a large goal of this program is to have the viewers watch and think to themselves, “wow, I wish I had a close group of friends like this. All of these guys are so lucky!” I had the exact opposite reaction when watching through it this time around. This often feels like a shining example as to why there are many, many downsides to having this tight of a group.
Yes it would be nice to live this close to your friends and be able to hang out often. Sure, I don’t deny that. But look at all the sacrifices these people have to make as a result of having each other. Phoebe doesn’t like spa chains so Rachel can’t use her gift card. Phoebe doesn’t like pottery barn so Rachel can’t have this table she likes. Monica is insane and refuses to allow anyone to have alternate plans outside of eating Thanksgiving at her place. Rachel refuses to allow anyone to leave her one-year-old’s birthday party, no matter how solid their reasons for doing so may be. Everyone is always guilt tripping each other into doing what they want them to do and everyone is always begrudgingly going along with things. They are also of course ridiculously co-dependent and completely incapable of doing anything unless one or more of the rest of the group is involved as well. These people are all miserable aren’t they?
7) The Phoebe wedding episode is infuriating to watch
Wow. You know, I remember this episode being a tad irksome when I first saw it, but it made me full on angry during this viewing.
So Phoebe is getting married to Mike. Here is a character who a few seasons ago likely wouldn’t have even entertained the idea of marriage, but she is now about to walk down the aisle. You would think her close friends would be supportive and eager to make this is a terrific day for her right? Oooooo wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.
It’s no secret I am not a fan of what they do with the Monica character in the later seasons. Her shrillness is played up to an ear piercing level that eventually becomes hard to take. This episode completely kills the character for me. You see Monica is Phoebe’s wedding planner and because she’s such a bossy and terrible person, she has ran things completely her way and left Phoebe completely out of the equation. She has not abided by any of Phoebe’s wishes and has even gone so far as to completely ignore them, including removing the vegetarian menu option, even though Phoebe is of course a vegetarian. It all comes to a head when Monica pressures Phoebe to finish her speech faster, even loudly protesting when Phoebe mentions her dead mom.
Naturally, as any of us would do, Phoebe loses it and fires her as she is ruining the wedding and not allowing Phoebe to have the day she wants. You would assume Monica would then apologize and all would be well right? Noooooope. Instead Monica sits by and smugly gloats as Phoebe’s big day gets worse and worse, insinuating she could help but won’t. Phoebe then apologizes to her which is fucking outlandish. I don’t know if the episode was trying to defy our expectations or if maybe they really did think Monica was the victim in this situation, but no matter what, this is not an acceptable outcome. If there was any justice, instead of apologizing Phoebe would scream at Monica to get over herself, stop being a bitch and watching the day get ruined, put her petty stupid shit aside and help out or she isn’t coming to the wedding cuz fuck her. But nope, Phoebe grovels to Monica’s shitiness and gives her authority again. It’s crazy.
Meanwhile, Ross and Chandler are all upset because they find out the night before the actual wedding that they don’t have a role and aren’t actively part of Mike’s side of things. The rest of the episode is them whining and competing for a spot instead of you know, helping or not being total pains in the ass when there’s a billion other things to worry about instead of their petty bullshit. I don’t even understand why they thought they would have a role to begin with. They aren’t friends with Mike at all. In fact, they devoted an entire episode to how Ross and Mike have nothing in common and can never hang out without things being excruciatingly awkward. So why did they think they would be asked to be in his wedding party? And why didn’t they clue in earlier that “hey holy shit, the wedding is 12 hours away and they haven’t asked us to do anything. Perhaps we don’t have a role.” It’s not nearly as painful as the Monica stuff, but it still provides a solid dose of anger.
Finally, Joey is asked to take on the father’s traditional role and walk Phoebe down the aisle since her birth father is missing or dead or I forget. I can’t keep track of Phoebe’s insane upbringing. Joey agrees and then takes the role so seriously that he begins to act as though he is in fact, Phoebe’s father. He lectures Mike and even goes as far as to talk with Mike’s parents about how fast their kids are growing up. I suppose they could write this off as him being an actor and wanting to be method with the “role”, but mostly it lends more credence to my above thought that by this point Joey is barely a mentally functioning human being.
Mike must absolutely hate all of these people right?
8) Chandler was absolutely in the right about the wedding budget
This goes back to an event in a previously covered season, but I forgot to mention it then and writing that crazy Phoebe’s wedding rant reminded me about it. Before Chandler and Monica got married, they got into an argument regarding the budget for the wedding. Upon discovering that Chandler had saved up a good chunk of change in his years of working (they don’t give an exact number but the internet figures it’s over 100 grand easily), Monica insists literally all of it be spent on their wedding. Chandler refuses and apparently that’s not ok. I have never agreed with a fictional character more than I did with Chandler during that argument. Again, maybe it’s just because I’m a dude but to be asked “hey all that money you worked for? Guess what? We’re spending literally all of it because I want a giant ass wedding and you are the bad guy if you say no” would not go over well with me.
Also opening all the gifts without Chandler is terrible and he should have left her immediately.
I think that about does it! I may remember a few extra tidbits and that could lead to scraping together a final one of these with those odds and ends, but for the most part I think that’s the end of it. I should say that despite all of these complaints, I did largely enjoy the time spent going through this show again. It is genuinely funny with some solid writing and even in the later seasons they managed to crank out a lot of good content. It has admirably withstood the test of time! Except for the theme song. Oh how I have grown to loathe that theme song...