It hasn’t been a day, a week or even a year… it’s been a full decade since we said our farewells to Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, Joey and Phoebe, and departed that iconic New York apartment for good. But anyone who watched TV between 1994 and 2004 can probably still remember most of the words to that goddamn Rembrandts theme song.
Over ten seasons Friends delivered memorable moments and helped shape the modern sitcom genre with episodes like The One With The Proposal; The One With Phoebe’s Wedding; The One Where Ross Kills A Hooker; The One With The Embryos; The One Where Joey Fights A Homeless Guy; The One With Ross’s Wedding Part One and Two*.
You’d think that watching it now would be like listening to a Wallflowers record; but the secret to Friends was that full of people you found kind of lame, but It was so consistently well written — and acted — that you ended up rooting for them anyway.
We watched Matthew Perry go through some of the decade’s most notable weight fluctuations and dubious haircuts; saw Courtney Cox become ever-more neurotic, OCD and kinda bitchy; grimaced and wondered how so many women found David Schwimmer attractive when he was such a whiny dweeb; laughed at Phoebe’s air headed-yet-biting observations; fell for Matt LeBlanc’s heart-of-gold routine time and again, and cheered when Jennifer Aniston got off the plane.
A jaw-dropping 52 million people (!!) in the US watched ‘The Last One’ ten years ago; 12.4 million watched the recent How I Met Your Mother finale. The cultural impact of Friends is still being felt: it delivered a modern take on relationships and family, via easily relatable characters (if you were white, at least). Every US sitcom since — if it’s not a mockumentary comedy (mockucomedy?) like The Office, Modern Family or Parks and Recreation — has tried to replicate that mix of humour and humanity; some are successful (Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother), others not so much (The New Girl, Rules of Engagement), and others are just deplorable (Two and A Half Men, King of Queens).
Still, oddly, no matter what has happened in the last 10 years, for the most part American network TV sitcoms are still about neurotic white people whining and dealing with their annoyingly trite problems, with few minorities playing a part beyond token love interest. Oddly, two that did, Community and Happy Endings — which, gasp, had an African-American guy AND a gay guy! — both got the axe after a few seasons. It’s been the FX stable: Louie, Legit, Workaholics, even The League and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (and even Netflix with Arrested Development) that’s been left to push boundaries and buttons in the comedy/sitcom genre.
So head into the imaginarium (miss you, Troy and Abed) while we have a stab (ha! you’ll get it later) at the obvious question: with 10 years in the rearview mirror and with ubiquitous smart phones, interwebz and Tinder, where are characters of Friends 10 years after we left them?
What Happened? Could he BE any more sad? Having spent his life hiding his insecurity behind sarcastic humour and seemingly a raging coke habit (based on those weight fluctuations), after he, Monica and the twins moved to the country, Chandler found himself lost by the isolation and duties of fatherhood. Turning to NFL football, spicy chicken wings and beer — while ignoring his wife and children — within two years he was the size of Kevin James. Refusing to admit he had a problem, Monica divorced him after finding out he was having an affair with Janice.
Where’s Chandler Now? Living in a one-bedroom flat in Trenton, New Jersey, spending his time stalking Monica on Facebook. Known to his neighbours as ‘Ugly Naked Guy’.
What Happened: After divorcing Chandler, Monica finally realised that she had a problem, and yeah, perhaps she was a highly-strung OCD pain in the ass. Sadly though, after stabbing a Guatemalan busboy, she was forced to quit her career as a chef. After serving five years in a minimum security prison, Monica decided to ditch her (impeccably clean) all-woman gang and started a yoga retreat.
Where’s Monica Now? Having regained custody of the twins (after Chandler was found to be negligent) she’s dating Tom Selleck. Not ‘Richard’, the character Tom Selleck played in Friends, but, confusingly, the actual Tom Selleck, who, as it turns out, was turned on to yoga for fitness and relaxation while working on Jesse Stone: Stone Cold.
What Happened: Once he convinced Rachel to get off that plane, all seemed peachy for Dr Ross Geller. Sweet gig at the Natural History Museum playing with dinosaur bones, a cool pair of kids in Ben and Emily, and a smoking hot girlfriend (again). Unfortunately, Ross was an undiagnosed sex addict, the associated problems of which only escalated with time. Eventually the Ross whine of “but we were on a break” became a catch-all excuse for having sex with anybody who would let him, during every conceivable type of ‘break’: lunch, bathroom, even halftime.
Where’s Ross Now?: Fired after being caught getting intimate in (and with) the museum’s new Pterosaur exhibit, he’s currently attending sex addicts anonymous and not allowed near primary schools.
What Happened: Having left Ross after his compulsive need to nail and marry anything that moved — or didn’t, in the case of that poor Pterosaur — Rachel hit the NYC party circuit with more rage and energy than a Sydney bouncer on the second week of his HGH cycle. Unable to work in Paris either, after being placed on the post-9/11 ‘no fly’ list thanks to her ‘left phalange’ threats she could often be found lamenting in trashy Lower East Side bars “who needs that fuckin’ dweeb anyways”, and making some terrible life decisions regarding men (*cough* Gunther *cough*).
Where Is Rachel Now? Addicted to Tinder and running a successful fashion start up that specialises in denim overalls and T-shirts that always somehow show an outline of your nipples.
What Happened? After moving to Hollywood, Joey’s planned film career failed to take off in any meaningful way; he had painted himself into a corner, typecast by his work as Dr Drake Ramoray. With no substantial work, Joey was forced into making a decision: move back to New York and be with his old friends, or go into porn. Quickly choosing the latter, three months later he was dead from a particularly virulent STI. Well, that and from heroin. Lots of heroin.
Where Is Joey Now? Finally, we know the answer to the question ‘How you doin’? It’s ‘Not great’
What Happened? In typical Friends fashion, Phoebe and Mike’s marriage inadvertently became ‘open’ due a hilarious summer house mixup where Mike accidentally had sex with Ursula, Phoebe’s porn star sister. Kooky Phoebe was oddly ok with that and would bring home homeless men to stay for weeks at a time in a sad attempt to replace her former ‘friends’, who were, ironically, never there for her after they moved away (thanks a lot, The Rembrandts).
Where’s Phoebe Now? Mike and Phoebe are currently in therapy, but Phoebe’s turned it around. After having six kids in rapid succession (bizarrely in two sets of triplets, to go with Frank and Alice’s), Phoebe is finally utilising that flighty-but-cuttingly-sharp personality as the creator of a successful Netflix cartoon comedy series called Smelly Cat.
* (Okay, so two of those are made up… but you tried to remember them for a second, right?)