Saturday 27 September 2014

Top 5: Friends episodes

Last week, the collective population of Gen Y were blown away by the sudden realisation that they're getting hella old. The trigger for this stunning revelation? Friends turned 20 years old. Yikes, where does the time go? 

Yep, it's been 20 years since Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe first took their first fateful slurps of coffee in Central Perk. 10 seasons, 231 episodes and countless Buzzfeed articles later, and Friends has undoubtedly embedded itself in the cultural zeitgeist. All together now - WE WERE ON A BREAK!

I may have missed the boat in terms of the actual anniversary, but this post is to celebrate 20 years of Friends. As I tend to do, I've picked out my Top 5 favourite episodes from the show. Be sure to let me know your favourites in the comments section below!

Honorary mentions: The One With the Football (S3, E9), The One With the Cop (S5, E16), The One Where Rosita Dies (S7, E13), The One With All The Cheesecakes (S7, E11)

5th - The One Where Ross Got High (S6, E9)

Of all the classic Thanksgiving episodes, 'The One Where Ross Got High' ranks as my favourite. The premise is simple; Monica and Ross' parents come over for dinner, but she hasn't told them about her relationship with Chandler yet. 

Meanwhile, Ross and Joey are desperate to leave the dinner so they can go and party with Joey's roommate Janine and her "hot dancer friends", but Rachel is taking her time to make sure he gets dessert right. Except, it goes seriously wrong and instead of making just an English trifle, she's made some kind of monstrous trifle/Shepard's pie hybrid - I can't read a recipe book without hearing Rachel listing off the ingredients - "Lady fingers, jam, custard - which I made from scratch - raspberries, more lady fingers, then beef sautéed with peas and onions, more custard, bananas and whipped cream on top!" The groups reactions when they have to eventually eat the Frankentrifle is priceless.

Everything comes ahead in spectacular fashion at the end when the secrets about the Geller siblings come spilling out - stealing Playboy's, breaking the porch swing - oh, and Ross got a divorce. Again. 

4th - The One With Unagi (S7, E11)

This one could've been on here purely because of the titular storyline, but the second and third threads also really memorable - it probably helps that I've seen this episode countless times also!

In this episode, the writers go wacky across the board - first off, Rachel and Phoebe have enrolled in self-defence lessons, and think that they're overnight karate experts. Of course Ross, who studied "kara-te" when he was younger sets out to prove them wrong, telling them that they haven't developed a technique known as 'unagi', or a complete self-awareness that makes them completely zen and ready for a surprise attack. In an increasingly silly game of one-upmanship, the trio attempt to prank and surprise each other - with hilarious results.

Meanwhile, Monica and Chandler are occupying themselves with making each other presents for their belated Valentine's Day dinner - except that they both forgot and are scrambling to find something to put together. Chandler finds a mixtape in their bedroom, assuming it has just music on it - except, when the duo play it, they discover it was actually recorded for Chandler by his whiny ex-girlfriend Janice. Awkward!

Then, finally, the cherry on top in this brilliant episode is Joey's frankly ridiculous storyline - he's determined to make money from a medical research experiment on identical twins, so he hires a look-a-like, Carl, and trains him how to act the sam, complete with Joey's iconic catchphrase - "No, no, no, it's how you doin'! Dammit Carl, go wait in the hall!"

3rd - The One Where Everybody Finds Out (S5, E14)

Mid-season five and the truth about Monica and Chandler's relationship is starting to be discovered by the rest of the group - Joey and Rachel already know, but while scouting out a new apartment for Ross, Phoebe spots Monica and Chandler getting jiggy through the window.

That night, Rachel, Phoebe and Joey plot to entrap Chandler by flirting with him, forcing him to tell the truth about dating Monica.

The ensuing cat-and-mouse game where Chandler and Phoebe awkwardly begin to seduce the other is equal parts charming and cringey. Better than that, the final resolution where Chandler peels himself away and proclaims he loves Monica (to the surprise of the whole group), is really sweet.

Things are rounded off with a great final scene where Ross, showing a co-worker around his new apartment, also catches a glimpse of Monica and Chandler getting down and dirty through the window (don't those two own any curtains!?) and yells "GET OFF MY SISTER!"

2nd - The One Where No-One's Ready (S3, E2)

Ugh, the dreaded bottle episode, amirite? Nothing but wall-to-wall expression and emotional nuance. And yet, Friends' first foray into this sitcom trope is perfectly executed, a consistently brilliant 22-minute real-time episode where every character has line after memorable line, and all this restrained by the classic Monica and Rachel's apartment set.

Let's break it down shall we? The episode centres around one simple premise; the gang has somewhere to be, but no-one (except Ross) is ready to leave. Chandler and Joey are squabbling over a chair in the living room, Rachel can't pick out an outfit, Monica is still hung-up on Richard and wants to call him back and Phoebe's dress gets ruined by a huge splodge of hummus.

Not only does this episode have one of the best Ross/Rachel story-lines (Ross offends Rachel by yelling at her to pick an outfit faster so she sulks and refuses to go), but the banter between Chandler and Joey is one of their best moments also. After Chandler hides all of Joey's underwear, so Joey tells him he's going to do the opposite back. So, naturally, he walks back in wearing every piece of clothing Chandler owns;

Joey: "Here it is buddy boy - you steal my clothes, I'm wearing everything you own"
Chandler: "Oh my God, that is so not the opposite of taking someone's underwear"
Joey: "Look at me, I'm Chandler - could I be wearing any more clothes?"


1st - The One With the Embryos (S4, E12)

Part of the magic on Friends was its ability to stack side-splitting hilarity alongside touching character moments that didn't dare stray too far into comedy. Nowhere else is this more evident that in 'The One With the Embryos', from the middle of season four.

On the one side, we have one of the best group story-lines from the whole show - Monica and Rachel hate to think that Chandler and Joey know more about them than visa versa. The solution they come up with is to stage a quiz, with Ross filling the role as quizmaster (complete with flashcards and easel).

The game, and the questions, are hilarious - no-one can remember Chandler's job, Rachel's favourite movie is revealed to be Weekend at Bernie's (much to her dismay) and Monica - well, Monica is a certain type of special and has 11 towel categories in her cupboard. Every line is just so quotable - "VIVA LAS GAYGAS", "Actually, it's Miss Chanandaler Bong", "Maurice, the Space Cowboy", "I majored in lightning rounds!" and "THAT'S NOT EVEN A WORD!" to name a few. The best part is? It doesn't feel excessive, and each line is clipped and not wasted.

On the flipside, the episode garners its title from Phoebe's storyline, which sees her agree to become a surrogate mum for her half-brother Frank (recurring guest star Giovanni Ribisi) and his wife, Alice. It's a touching storyline, one that culminates with Phoebe learning she is in fact pregnant, and the whole gang put aside their quiz quarrelling for a group hug.

So what're your favourite Friends episodes? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!


  1. Awesome choices! The One with the Embryos is also one of my favorites!

    1. Thanks! So many great quotes from that episode, it was a sure fire bet for my Top 5 :)

  2. Some nice choices here. Used to love this show back when it was on, and, dang, I wouldn't even know where to begin coming up with a list of my favorites, too many good ones to choose from. :P

    1. Thanks Chris :) I have all 10 seasons on DVD and regularly go back through and relive the greatness - it wasn't easy picking just 5, I can tell ya!

  3. My favourite episodes change on a regular basis... At the moment it's The one where Ross is fine... I watched it a few days ago and cried with laughter.

    Amazing work for being able to come up with a Top 5 :)

    - Jenna

    1. Ahh yeah, that's a great one too! Still some gems in the later seasons - My fajitas! Thanks Jenna :)

  4. Oh I love this list! I practically know every single episode by heart and the ones you chose are fantastic!

    My favorite is the one with the Cop :)

    - PIVOT!!! PIVOT!!! PIVOT!!
    - Shut up Shut up SHUT UUUUUP!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Yes! I love that scene, Ross just seems so certain it'll fit :D

      Rachel: I brought reinforcements!
      Ross: Oh great, you brought Joey?
      Rachel: Well, I brought the next best thing...
      Chandler: (walks in) hey.
      Ross: Chandler?! You brought Chandler? The next best thing would be Monica!
      Chandler: I would be offended, but Monica is freakishly strong...

  5. Such a great post! It's pretty much perfect!
    My sister and I often joke about how much we are alike as Joey and
    Chandler fighting over the cushion and wearing each other's clothes. We can totally see ourselves doing that.

    The One With The Embryos is one of my all-time favorites.

    Have you seen the bloopers to the English Trifle seen? It's so funny! It tastes like FEET

    1. Yeah, the bloopers are so great - I especially like some of Phoebe's, Lisa Kudrow has a great laugh :D



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