Friends has been off the air for almost exactly 12 years, and it still remains one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. People still love Miss Chanandler Bong and still know all of the words to “Smelly Cat.”
However, it has to be acknowledged that these might not always be the best people. They are without a doubt terrible at romantic relationships, and there are definitely moments on the show when we are supposed to laugh at their selfishness. Ha ha! Joey chose to save his sandwich over the life of his friend! Ross is a terrible, absentee dad who is weirdly obsessed with overly traditional masculinity! Phoebe probably has a man handcuffed in a cellar as we speak! Still, these failings are what make them relatable and part of the reason why people return to them over and over again.
However, how good of a friend are these friends anyway? If you really needed someone to have your back, who is probably the best friend to do it? Let’s take a look at the evidence and rank the gang accordingly.
Once a princess, always a princess. Rachel came from a life of privilege, and while she eventually finds her feet and becomes an adult, she is definitely the most self-centered friend. She’d probably give away whatever gift you got her for store credit or spend your part of the rent money on a new pair of boots at Barney’s. Unfortunately for Rachel, shiny hair does not mean that you’re good at friendship. Plus, having to hear about the never-ending “will they or won’t they” of Ross and Rachel and having to have an opinion on the whole “on a break” thing would be too much to bear.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Ross is the least likable friend. Sure, he probably has the means to help you out in a jam, but he’s the kind of guy who reminds you how much money you owe him every single time you see him, and would bring up that one time he picked your mom up at the airport every single time you needed a favor like he was some kind of hero. He might be there when you need him, but it probably wouldn’t be worth it in the long run. Also, if you ever attempt to help him out, he’d probably just try to take over and shout “Pivot!” at you. Any way, someone who cares about “MY SANDWICH!” that much is way too tightly wound.
Oh, Phoebe. She means well. She is definitely the friend you go to if you want to get some weirdness off your chest because she is as open-minded as they come. However, if you need real commitment, she may not be your best choice. While she can come through in a pinch, it is just as likely that she’ll get distracted by a cat that she thinks is her mother or some rando off the street from her mugging days.
If Joey had a better attention span, he would probably rank highest on this list. For someone who spends most of his time eating pizza off the floor, playing fire ball, and bedding most of New York City’s women, Joey is surprisingly chill with Rachel and baby Emma moving in. While an infant would harsh most bachelors’ vibes, Joey rolls with it. Just don’t ask him to share his food or Huggsy, his bedtime penguin pal. He does have his limits.
Chandler, when he isn’t undone by his own awkwardness and sarcasm, is actually a pretty great friend. It’s pretty clear that when he’s roommates with Joey, he covers almost all the expenses and makes sure the fridge is stocked. Basically, Joey would have starved to death ages ago without Chandler. The care and feeding of a Joey doesn’t come cheap, but Chandler is content to help his friend while he chases his acting dreams. Sure, he did kiss Joey’s girlfriend, but he did his penance in the box without complaint. Another benefit: unlimited sweater vest borrowing privileges.
Monica is essentially the mom of the group, driven by her hospitality, adherence to rules, and her desire to win everything. While she may make you eat your food over the sink to avoid excessive crumbs, Monica is still unfailingly generous. Not only does she take in Rachel after she cuts financial ties with her father, but her kitchen acts as a hub for almost every group hang. Does anyone ever say thank you? Nope. If anyone is going through a breakup or career failure, Monica is probably there to cheer them up with a plate of cookies. She may be uptight, but she’s someone you want in your corner in a crisis.
So, that’s the verdict on which friend would really “be there for you.” But in all actuality, it really does take a village to help us all get through adulthood, so you’re best served trying to assemble a group with your own Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe (also a rad rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan — the greatest friend of all.)