Friends, Joey, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe

These are the Friends episodes from each of its 10 seasons that PROVE it’s not overrated

Look… it’s a classic for a reason

At some point during the last five years, the internet collectively decided it was no longer cool to love Friends.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that cultural shift happened. Maybe it was when Matt LeBlanc signed up for Top Gear. Maybe it was when Matthew Perry started pursuing girls half his age romantically. Maybe it was when everyone rewatched the Rachel and Joey romance storyline – which we will NOT be speaking about. Who knows. But somewhere along the way, loving Friends became passé.

And I’m over it.

I would like to preface this by saying I don’t think Friends is perfect or beyond critique. A lot of the episodes tread the same comedic beats, novelty of catchphrases like “how YOU doin ;)” wear off fast. It certainly shows its 90s age in some of its storylines, and the lack of diversity amongst the core six is notable. But I do think obsessing over Friends for people our generation was a rite of passage. It was that first adult show you fell in love with whilst still spending most of your time watching Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. Loving Friends felt grown up. It felt so comforting.

There was a time where Friends became a default to change the channel to, and that has put me off revisiting its greatness for a while. When I was at uni, shoving Friends on was just a way of placating the room when nobody could decide what to watch. Because of this, Friends’ laughs and pace grew sickly and mundane to me – something that’s easy to happen when you overwatch anything.

But with Friends: The Reunion being all anyone can talk about, it got me dabbling in a rewatch – and really made me realise why the world fell in love with Monica, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, Rachel and Ross in the first place. It was critically acclaimed for a reason, and whilst it’s often said the later seasons aren’t as good, there wasn’t really a lull where Friends became bad.

So, with that in mind, here’s an episode from each of Friends’ 10 seasons that proves, once and for all, that it’s not overrated in any way, shape or form.

1.  The One With The Blackout (Season One)

Friends’s first season really gets us to fall in love with our core six characters, and puts us mostly in the shoes of Rachel. She’s the one that, like us, is new to the group of pals and the city.

When a power cut hits the neighbourhood, the gang wait it out in Monica’s apartment. What goes down is the first stone cold classic episode of Friends, and one that still makes me belly laugh to this day.

Chandler’s locked in an ATM vestibule with a Victoria’s Secret model and has his own funny saga there, but the real laughs come from the rest of the gang. Ross is desperately trying to tell Rachel he has feelings for her, but his plans are halted by the arrival of a sexy new Italian neighbour and a pouncing cat. The physical comedy from David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston as the cat is attacking them out of Monica’s balcony window as Phoebe and the rest sing a rousing campfire version of The Carpenters’ Top of the World is pure gold.

2. The One Where Ross Finds Out (Season Two)

Season two finally gives audiences their long awaited Ross and Rachel romance, that really kicks into high gear with one of the most satisfying first kisses in telly history.

The will they/won’t they nature of Ross and Rachel reaching fever pitch was just so fun to watch. From when Rachel jumps on Ross’s back to try and get him to not hear the drunken voicemail she’s left confessing her love for him is equal parts hilarious and tense, and the final act in Central Perk with the argument and then rain soaked kiss has the power to move even the stoniest of hearts.

3. The One Where No One’s Ready (Season Three)

This episode is literally one for the sitcom history books. A bottle episode of the highest order, the farce that goes down here should be taught to every actor in comedy school. It’s a cast at the top of their game, and who are clearly so settled in the characteristics and nuances of the friends they play.

Phoebe’s hummus chaos, Ross’s increased agitation, Rachel’s lack of urgency, Monica’s Richard-starved mania and OF COURSE the entire saga of Joey sitting in Chandler’s seat that culminates in one of the most iconic visuals in the show’s history: Joey wearing every piece of clothing that Chandler owns. A CLASSIC.

4. The One With The Embryos (Season Four)

The quiz of all quizzes occurs in this episode, and it’s as perfect as you’d have ever hoped.

One of Friends’ most frequently rewarding laughs is how competitive Monica Geller is, and Courtney Cox’s performance is always at its most delicious when she looks like she’s about to burst a blood vessel in order to win.

Ross is so funny as the question master, Rachel blowing it all with her saying that Chandler’s job is a “transponster” and the sheer triumphant joy in Joey and Chandler riding in on that stupid big dog makes this episode iconic, and that’s without even going into the heartwarming story of the titular embryos as Phoebe prepares to carry her brother Frank’s wife Alice’s baby.

5. The One Where Everybody Finds Out (Season Five)

Chandler and Monica’s impromptu relationship unexpectedly became a crucial crux of Friends – and after they shag in London and the gang start discovering one by one, the laughs FLOW.

The One Where Everybody Finds Out is potentially Friends’ best half hour. Phoebe finding out through the window and screaming in horror only to turn the horror into faux excited glee for Ross’s new apartment when he walks back in and then hilariously joins in with the giddy squeals is outrageously funny, and the entire farce of Phoebe seducing Chandler to force him to admit he’s with Monica is a pressure cooker of two camps trying to outdo each other that is funny no matter how many times you watch it.

6. The One Where Ross Got High (Season Six)

Jack and Judy Geller are the most consistently hilarious and welcome additions of the extended recurring Friends cast. They’re always an absolute hoot.

In season six’s Thanksgiving offering, so much funny stuff happens it’s hard to keep up. Phoebe has an unexpected crush on Jack Geller (“what I’d give to be that can of… condensed milk”), Joey is desperate to leave so he can hang out with his sexy new roommate played by Elle Macpherson, Rachel makes a trifle that’s half a shepherd’s pie and Monica and Chandler find out the reason her parents hate him is because Ross blamed Chandler for smoking pot in their college dorm so they didn’t get annoyed at him.

Everyone making excuses so they can dispose of Rachel’s beefy trifle is one of the best scenes in Friends history, and so is Judy Geller dishing out the advice after everyone confesses their feelings.

7. The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding (Season Seven)

Friends often nailed it with a big two parter, but they really knocked it out of the park with the big sitcom wedding of Monica and Chandler.

Having two of the main cast fall so believably in love and have their relationship evolve from a punchline to marriage was one of Friends’ best arcs, and the entire saga here from Chandler’s cold feet to Joey’s scheduling conflicts with an Emmy award winning guest turn from Gary Oldman, the wedding is Friends finishing big arcs at their best.

8. The One With The Rumor (Season Eight)

The celebrity guest cast of Friends is a round up of big names not many other sitcoms can claim. The who’s who of Hollywood were queueing up to feature.

Not many were more memorable than Brad Pitt, though, who was the then-husband of Jennifer Aniston. The role of Will that Brad played’s purpose in the episode being to despise Rachel Green was made even more fun due to the nature of their relationship off screen, and everyone is on top form reacting to the rumour Ross and Will spread about Rachel in high school.

9. The One With The Lottery (Season Nine)

The best thing about this episode is it lets the cast do what they’re great at: being friends.

It’s classic sitcom antics; they all pool together to get a load of lottery tickets and then fall out over distribution. Monica’s competitive nature is in full hilarious force but the queen of the episode is Phoebe – who drops the lottery tickets off the balcony after a bird makes her jump and then gifts the world with the iconic “coo… it’s the pigeon”.

10. The Last One (Season Ten)

A final episode of any TV show is hard. It’s hard to get right and even harder to please everyone. Making the final episode of Friends, one of the most popular TV shows, well, ever, is a nearly impossible task.

But somehow, they just really nailed it with The Last One.

Everything is wrapped up in a way that’s satisfying without just feeling like fan service for the sake of it. Ross and Rachel getting back together doesn’t feel shoved in because the show’s ending, it feels like a natural end to a duo that are meant to be together. If you don’t cry at the “I got off the plane” I don’t know what to tell you.

The whole cast spend the finale showing you exactly why the show ran for a decade. Amazing performances and so much heart balanced with the comedy. From the emotion of Monica and Chandler finally adopting the twins to the chaos Phoebe causes by spreading the line that the plane doesn’t have any fictional “phalanges”.

The show ending with “Do you wanna go get some coffee?” “Sure. Where?” is the most perfect ending to a show that made us all laugh for 1o years and still maintains the power to do so today.

Recommended stories by this writer:

• Only a true Friends fan is getting 11/13 on this pilot episode trivia quiz

 Quiz: Oh my god! How well do you remember the iconic quotes from Friends?

• These are the ages of the Friends cast now and when they first started the show