Hi! It’s Annie!
You can’t talk about television media without somebody mentioning the classic sitcom ‘Friends’. This has to be one of the most loved shows of all time internationally. I think we’ve all heard the story of how Namjoon used ‘Friends’ to help him learn English many times at this point. I’m sure Namjoon himself is probably tired of hearing that story. But ‘Friends’ is well loved for a reason and I would argue that all of it comes from the characters. And though many people vary in who their favorite character is in this show, I think I have a fairly solid ranking. Which really doesn’t happen with many shows for me! And though every character is iconic in their own way, there are definitely a few dislikable characters in this lineup. So this will be my definitive ranking of the characters from ‘Friends’ and how good of a friend I think each of them would really be. LIGHT SPOILERS ahead if you have somehow not watched ‘Friends’.
I honestly don’t think that anyone’s favorite character is Ross. Sorry, David Schwimmer. If you ask most people who their least favorite ‘Friends’ character is, most people will say Ross. And that is because, despite all of his iconic lines and moments, he is by far the most annoying character in the show. Ross is whiny, constantly yelling, has a giant ego, and is very easily offended. On top of all of this, he is one of the biggest mansplainers to ever exist on television. He is constantly over explaining his apparent intelligence to everyone and demeaning all those who don’t share his opinions. He goes up against Phoebe the most in that regard, who he doesn’t respect at all for her more unique views. Instead of letting her alone, he constantly feels the need to correct her or prove her wrong. Definitely one of those guys to sit you down and talk about how either ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Fight Club’, or ‘The Dark Knight’ is the best film of all time. I have no idea why those movies seem to be the favorites of so many film bros, but Ross would be one of them. He seems to be every red flag that women bring up and I can’t imagine being friends with him. I’d strangle him if I knew him, there’s no way I would ever want to spend any time around him. Being interrupted and mansplained to doesn’t sound fun.
I know a lot of people like Rachel, but I often find her to be just as bad as Ross. Though she seems nice some of the time, she can be incredibly manipulative in order to get her way and even throws tantrums. Such as the many times she almost refused to move out of Monica’s house when Chandler was moving in. She barely deals with any situation maturely. And though I do blame Ross for most of what happened between the two of them (he was extremely bad at communicating anything), I still don’t by any means think that Rachel is exempt. She overreacts in every situation and I don’t think she would be a good partner and definitely not a good friend. She relies on her friends to take care of her and doesn’t do much in return. And most of her intentions throughout the show are purely selfish. While I don’t dislike her as much as Ross, I really don’t like Rachel.
Finally we’re to the friends that I actually like! Joey is really sweet and very supportive. Definitely one of the most loyal in the friend group and always there to be a shoulder to cry on. Joey might not be the most reliable friend when it comes to most anything else, but he’s an amazing friend when it counts. Acting for others when they need him and being one of the best at advice, oddly. My only issues with Joey are how egotistical he can act when the fame starts going to his head and, mostly, how he treats women. Joey doesn’t really show much respect for any women that aren’t his many sisters, and often doesn’t care about the lengths he will go to that sometimes result in making the women in his life uncomfortable. Like continuously attempting to seduce a woman who becomes his roommate or continuously encouraging his female friends to make out with each other. He doesn’t even show respect to his female friends. I know that some of this is the age of the show, but it still never fails to get under my skin. And I’m glad that this isn’t seen in such a positive or comedic light anymore. I have a soft spot for Joey, but he’s not my favorite of the friend group. I think he would be a good friend to a guy, but be wary if you’re a woman.
Monica is a character that gives me some mixed feelings. I love watching her and there are definitely tendencies that she has that I find to be relatable. While her organizing is a bit out there in how dramatic it is, her worrying and sometimes need to feel in control of something are traits that I especially find to be relatable now. After Covid I think everyone wanted to feel in control of something as it started to feel that we were all losing control of everything. Monica is also completely reliable, especially when it comes to taking care of her friends, and often a needed voice of reason. If someone is going to truly think through somebody else’s emotions and how their actions might make someone else feel, it’s Monica. But I face my small dilemma when I think about whether or not she would be a friend I’d want to have. I think in the end my answer would be yes, but I feel that she would be too much to stay around for long periods of time. Especially if you were at her house and she was playing hostess, as Phoebe and Rachel found out when their apartment caught fire. Maybe a good friend to meet for a nice lunch out though!
Now we’re getting to the two characters I would love to have as friends in real life. Phoebe is certainly an odd duck and might take some getting used to at first. She has some strange world views and can sometimes be rather flaky. But she’s very caring and would be so much fun to be around! I think seeing her play in Central Perk would be really endearing and I also admire how she deals with her friends’ issues. When one of the group has a secret, Phoebe is the first to know about it. Not just because she’s fairly good at keeping a secret, but she’s also understanding of most anything and is never prone to overreacting. While Rachel is the last person you would tell a secret to, Phoebe would be the first. She has jumped in between her friends fighting and personally gotten involved in situations to make sure that the friend group stayed together. In many ways, I think Phoebe is actually the glue of this friend group. And how fun would it be to have a conversation or day out with her? Her unpredictability would be concerning at first, but I feel like it would pay off.
When you ask most people who their favorite character in ‘Friends’ is, this is usually the answer you get. Even Namjoon said he would rather consider himself a Chandler over a Ross or a Joey. Though seriously, I say again, interviewers NEED to stop bringing up ‘Friends’ to Namjoon. Anyways, Chandler is the most popular character for a reason. He’s by far the funniest character on the show. Often times when you say the word “sarcasm”, Chandler will immediately pop into your head. If I full belly laugh at a joke in this show, it’s almost always one that he said. No one beats Chandler’s joke delivery. But even more than that, he’s just a genuinely good guy. When he apologizes to anyone, he is incredibly sincere. Though he makes jokes all the time, when a situation calls for him to be serious he often can be the most serious person in the room. I personally think it would be amazing to meet someone and be friends with someone as genuine as Chandler always seems to be. He has your back always, you just have to be prepared for some occasional roasting. Chandler is also the most adorable unexpected romantic of the friend group. He would be an amazing friend and he will always be one of the most iconic characters in this show.
I don’t usually have this clear of a definite ranking for all of the main characters in a show, but this is one of my exceptions. Though I really do like most of the characters, there are more complaints I have about some. But overall, I really do think that this show stands the test of time. Though I didn’t remember the show to be so sexually driven most of the time, it still has some really heartfelt moments. And though it is difficult to get past Ross and Rachel sometimes; Chandler always has a joke that pulls me right back in. When people say that we’ll never get a show like ‘Friends’ again, I wholeheartedly have to agree. You can’t recreate the lightning in a bottle effect this show had and I’m glad we have reruns so that we can watch the fun over and over again!
See you across the pond!