Today is the eleven-year anniversary of the sad, sad day when “Friends” went off the air. At the time, I was only fifteen and, to be honest, I didn”t really care. Today, however, I care a very great deal about “Friends” and all its glory. More than anything, I care about the bizarre phenomenon that is the lack of appreciation for these six phenomenal actors.
We need to start showing some major respect. These are actors who made interpersonal chemistry history, who made millions of people believe that they had true friends living on the opposite side of a TV screen, who are, in my humble opinion, six of the greatest actors of our time. It”s time to start acknowledging their genius. Introducing: Six friends, six priceless moments.
1. Jennifer Aniston: “The One With the Fake Party”
Rachel wants to get the attention of her latest crush, Joshua, so she invites him to an impromptu going away party for Ross” current flame, Emily. At this party, Rachel goes to extreme lengths to seduce him, including initiating a game of spin the bottle and putting on a cheerleading uniform. Jennifer Aniston embarks on a comedic downward spiral that leads her to a bruised lip, a missing tooth and, spoiler alert: a kiss from Joshua. I can watch this episode over and over again and never get tired of it. Watching Jennifer Aniston”s performance is a quick-fix to any blue mood.
How many times I have seen this episode: 16, and I”ve listened to it on my iPod a few times too.
2. Lisa Kudrow: “The One With the Halloween Party”
Monica and Chandler host a Halloween party, and Phoebe gets to meet her twin sister”s fiancé, played by Sean Penn. Phoebe”s twin sister, Ursula, is of course played by Lisa Kudrow, which is where the magic begins. Lisa Kudrow acts opposite herself, playing two very different though equally dysfunctional characters. Yes, Lisa is amazing as Phoebe, but what impresses me is that she is just as convincing when playing Ursula. Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe and Ursula explores the many dimensions of trauma and the possibilities of nature vs. nurture.
How many times I have seen this episode: Let”s say 15
3. Courtney Cox: “The One With All the Thanksgivings”
For those of you who don”t know (there”s really no excuse for this), Monica Geller used to be fat. In this episode we get a throwback to her fat days, when she first met Chandler and overheard him making fun of her. This is one of the few episodes where Courtney wore a fat suit and transformed herself completely into an emotional-eater with a naively delusional understanding of sex and romance. In this episode we also flashback to an in-between Monica, the Monica who has lost all the weight but still identifies as a fat girl. Here, in one of Monica”s most underrated scenes, she clumsily attempts to seduce chandler by sensually interacting with various kitchen items before accidentally, spoiler alert, slicing off his toe with a knife.
How many times I have seen this episode: At least 14, and it was the first one I ever watched!
4. Matthew Perry: “The One With the Blackout”
In season one, it was already clear that Matthew Perry was a star. When New York is hit by a city-wide blackout, Chandler is stuck in an ATM vestibule with Victoria”s Secret model Jill Goodacre. We, the viewers, have access to his internal monologue as he awkwardly struggles to interact with a beautiful woman. I”m convinced that these scenes could be taken out of the context of Friends and turned into a one-man show performed on Broadway.
How many times I have seen this episode: 19, easily
5. Matt Le Blanc: “The One With Joey”s New Brain”
Matt LeBlanc spends ten whole seasons portraying a man who cannot act to save his life. Just the fact that he convinces us so fully of this is enough evidence that the man can act. In season 7, Joey”s “Day”s of our Lives” character gets a brain transplant, and he has to learn how to act as Jessica Lockheart (the woman whose brain he is receiving), played by Susan Sarandon. So, Matt LeBlanc is then playing Joey Tribbiani playing Dr. Drake Remore playing Jessica Lockheart. Spoiler alert: he pulls it off.
How many times I have seen this episode: 11, approximately
6. David Schwimmer: “The One Where Ross is Fine”
When Joey and Rachel start dating in season 10, Ross insists that he is totally fine with the whole thing. He goes as far as to host Joey, Rachel, and his current girlfriend, Charlie, for a night of Mexican food. How it goes down: Ross drinks all the margaritas and makes an unforgettable toast to love. L.O.V.E, love. Spoiler alert: David Schwimmer shows us what it means to be truly and profoundly not fine.
How many times I have seen this episode: 20+. I can recite an alarming amount the dialogue.
See? These six may be buried in millions of dollars and pop-culture flops, but what lies beneath all that is cold, hard talent. The real deal, ladies and gentlemen. I”m tired of this “but none of them ever did anything good after that” attitude. First of all, it isn”t true, and second of all who cares?! They were in “Friends,” as far as I”m concerned they don”t have to do anything else for as long as they live. Why? Because they nailed it. Not many others can say that.