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Essential summer listening.
May 6th, 2014
Do you remember where you were ten years ago today when “The Last One” aired? It’s not really that important (I watched it with a friend… so much pun), but today marks the tenth anniversary of the Friends series finale, which aired way back on May 6, 2004. Unlike most sitcoms today, viewers had a pretty serious emotional attachment to Friends, which resulted in it being the fifth most-watched finale in U.S. television history. And while the show may not have held up over time as well as other syndication vets like Seinfeld and The Simpsons, there is a lot of nostalgia for the series.
There are many ways to approach looking back on something as beloved as Friends, like its cultural impact (remember when girls were rushing to the salon to get “The Rachel”?), its social impact (ever been on a break?) and the cast’s fascinating struggles to find post-Friends success. But instead, we’re looking forward and imagining where all six friends – Chandler, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, Rachel and Ross – would end up ten years later, in 2014. You might want to sit down for this.
Where we left off: Erica (Anna Faris) gives birth to Chandler and Monica’s twins, Jack and Erica. They leave Monica’s grandma’s rent-controlled apartment and move to a house up state in Westchester.
What happened next? Chandler continues working at the advertising agency, eventually receiving a promotion to senior copywriter. After Monica’s year-long maternity is up, he becomes a stay-at-home dad, taking on various ad campaigns part-time. Upon discovering YouTube, Chandler makes a “silly” video of him dancing to amuse the twins and uploads it to the video-sharing site. Unbeknownst to him, his dancing becomes one of the first viral videos, turning Chandler into an internet sensation. He decides to quit his job and make paid public appearances dancing for Letterman, Leno, Kimmel, Conan, Regis & Kelly, Ellen, Rachael Ray, The View, Dr. Oz, Emeril Lagasse, and of course, Oprah. He isn’t invited to dance for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert though. After reaching 230 million hits and becoming a meme that dances on everything, his second dancing video fails big time and Chandler spirals into depression. A concerned Dr. Phil invites Chandler on to discuss his depression, but ends up asking him to dance after five minutes. At first Chandler becomes irate, but Monica tells him to embrace the moment and accept that he will forever be “The Dancing Bing.” He is currently back working from home as a junior copywriter, while writing a screenplay he plans to pitch to SyFy with the working title of A Shark Porno.
Where we left off: The only character to survive Friends, Joey Tribbiani ended up moving to Los Angeles to further pursue his acting career. Living with his sister and nephew, Joey bounced around from soaps, won a Daytime Soap Award for Best Death Scene on Days of Our Lives and ended up in a blockbuster action flick called Captured.
What happened next? Joey stars in three Captured sequels (the last one, Captured 4: The Final Capturing, being a straight-to-DVD release), and was cast by DC Comics as the much-overlooked, often-forgot, hardly-remembered, ill-fated superhero Arm-Fall-Off Boy. Sadly, the film, like the comic, fails to interest investors and is canned the day after it’s announced. However, in 2012, three years after trademarking his catchphrase, “How you doin’?,” Joey strikes a partnership with fashion designer Sergio Valente to launch a lifestyle brand called HYD. Business booms and “tight-ass denim” becomes the must-have fashion trend. Oprah recommends it, rappers rap about it, and everyone who’s anyone wears HYD denim to the Met Ball. Joey closes out 2014 as the world’s leading fashion magnate, knocking Tom Ford down to #2. He is now married to Brooke Shields.
Where we left off: See Chandler.
What happened next? Monica takes a year-long maternity leave and struggles to cope with just how dirty babies can be. She manages though, and eventually returns to work as head chef for the Michelin-rated Le Bernardin. However, when Chandler’s YouTube video takes off, she quits her job to become his manager. Fiercely competitive, Monica also tries her hand at creating a viral video, re-enacting the time she put a whole turkey on her head. But it fails to get more than 300+ views. Once the money stops flowing in from Chandler’s video and appearances, Monica decides against returning to the exhausting and thankless restaurant business. Instead, she takes up her other passion: cleaning. Monica has owned and operated her own Molly Maid franchise since 2010. She hopes to own two more by the end of 2015.
Where we left off: Phoebe marries Mike (Paul Rudd) and changes her name to Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan. They seemingly live happily ever after.
What happened next? Phoebe doesn’t like her new name, and ends up changing it to Princess Consuela Bananahammock as she had originally planned. Meanwhile, Mike changes his name to Crap Bag, as promised. Phoebe loses her job as a masseuse, while Mike simultaneously can’t get a piano-playing gig. Phoebe suggests they live on the street like she used to. Mike agrees. They adopt a smelly cat and name it Smelly Cat and the duo become buskers singing “Smelly Cat” across the city while sleeping in Mike’s VW Golf. They are currently happy.
Where we left off: Rachel aborts a move to Paris to work for Louis Vuitton after Ross declares his eternal love for her. They hook up.
What happened next? The next day Ross jokingly brings up their “break” from years ago and Rachel takes issue with it. The two get into a huge argument and Rachel decides to leave, taking Emma with her to Paris, where she accepts the job at Louis Vuitton. She begins a romance with her old/new boss Mark after he seduces her, and the two eventually get married. The marriage lasts three years until Mark cheats on Rachel with actress, film director, screenwriter, humanitarian and author Angelina Jolie, after the two work together on a photo shoot. Rachel quits Louis Vuitton and gets hired by Joey to be the creative director for HYD International in Milan. She is currently single but not happy.
Where we left off: See Rachel.
What happened next? Dumped by Rachel after making a very regretful joke about them being on a break, Ross drunkenly tries to win back his second ex-wife Emily, after an unsuccessful attempt to win back his first ex-wife, Carol the lesbian. Emily also rejects him. Ross takes a leave of absence from teaching at New York University, and travels to Japan to study Unagi. He lives with an 82-year-old Unagi master named Norikazu, who teaches Ross the way of the Unagi. While he is away on his mission, Ross’s “secret” self-released 1997 CD-R, Infinite Time is discovered in a second-hand shop and finds a cult audience. Influential music website Pitchfork calls it “tremendously daring, mind-melting, yet totally infectious hypnagogic synth-pop” and gives it the Best New Music honour. After 18 months of training, Norikazu reveals to Ross that Unagi isn’t actually a state of mind but a type of freshwater eel. Ross returns home to discover he is indie rock’s newest darling and after receiving offers from every influential indie label (Domino, Matador, Merge) he ends up signing a six-album deal with Interscope. A sold-out concert at the Bowery Ballroom is a complete disaster, much like his first ever gig at Central Perk. The day after he’s dropped by Interscope. Ross is back teaching about dinosaurs at NYU and dating a much younger girl who he plans to make his fourth wife.