We’ve all got a lot of time on our hands right now to ponder life’s greatest questions, like “how long can I go without washing my hair?” and “am I only going to hang out with people through Zoom for the rest of my life?” But there’s one major question that’s been on all of our minds: “how would the characters of Friends handle quarantine?” And as someone who started watching Friends at six years old (was I way too young to be watching it? Yes. Did it make me feel 1,000 times superior to all the other first-graders? Absolutely yes), I feel particularly qualified to carry out this task.
For the sake of a consistent timeline, we’ll assume they go into quarantine sometime around season 6, after Monica and Chandler have moved in together and Ross is living in the apartment across the street from them, and we’ll also assume that they’ve decided to all quarantine together. But also, if the timeline doesn’t 100% line up let’s just all try to remain calm. This is an imagining of a TV show that ended 16 years ago, so maybe just have a glass of wine and keep that in perspective.
Rachel started dating a guy right before everyone went into quarantine and is freaking out that he hasn’t called her yet. She insists on keeping the phone line open at all times in case he calls, and to distract herself she has started trying on all of her clothes and asking everyone what she should get rid of (correct answer: nothing, Rachel Green is a fashion icon). After realizing she has such great taste, she’s decided she should start a fashion blog.
Phoebe has been reliably informed by her psychic that one of the Friends has coronavirus. In order to figure out who has it, she’s trying to read everyone’s auras because, according to her, that’s as good as an actual test. She’s also lighting an absurd amount of incense (it’s “healing”), putting crystals in every room, and writing songs about literally everything everyone is doing, and it’s driving them all absolutely insane.
Naturally, Joey is eating through all of the quarantine food like it’s Thanksgiving dinner and he’s got his eating pants on. And as we all know, Joey doesn’t share food, so this is kind of a big problem. He’s also always trying to break quarantine to go meet up with a girl, but because no one will let him, he’s instead trying to flirt with girls he can see in the building across from them or on the street through the window. To no one’s surprise, he’s so successful he has a new girlfriend every week.
Ross is the only one who didn’t make it to Monica’s apartment in time for quarantine, and as Monica’s already got the place on full lockdown, she’s refusing to let him in. Whenever he tries to call them, Rachel immediately hangs up the phone in case her date calls, so his only option is to try to communicate with them through their window.
Chandler only has two coping mechanisms: sarcasm and smoking. While his sarcasm is certainly no secret, the fact that he’s started smoking again definitely is. He keeps making trips to the hallway and the balcony for a smoke break but is ultimately caught because like, the smell, duh. Could he be any more obvious?
A global pandemic is Monica’s worst nightmare because it’s not something she has any control over. So obviously, she’s making everyone to wash their hands every hour on the hour and trying to clean the apartment 24/7. The only problem? Joey got rid of most of their cleaning supplies to make room for more quarantine food, and she already ordered Amazon’s entire stock of cleaning supplies. So instead, she’s baking constantly to relieve stress. She started the banana bread trend.
Devastated by the fact that he likely won’t see Rachel again for months, he’s started writing fan fiction about how she will eventually fall in love with him (as if he wasn’t already doing that).
Janice decides to serenade her neighbors from her balcony and ends up having dozens of noise complaints filed against her because of her voice.
Images: Giphy; Paul Smith / Featureflash via Shutterstock.com
It’s the 25th anniversary of everyone’s favorite 90s sitcom featuring over-plucked eyebrows, ultra straight hair, and a Greenwich Village apartment we would all gladly sacrifice our most prized possessions to live in for just a few weeks. Friends has remained an iconic series since its premiere in 1994, and its 2004 final season that famously won the cast a shudder-inducing one million dollars per episode. However, it’s 2019 now. Even the most loyal of Friends fans sometimes use the 10 seasons as nostalgic background noise to fall asleep to after we’ve watched too many true crime shows and need the soothing trance of rhythmic studio audience laughter. When we’re sick of rewatching The Office, Friends and all its mind-numbing Ross and Rachel “will they?/won’t they?” drama is always there.
Still, Friends is very much a product of its time. It’s nearly devoid of diversity, and the New York City it portrays is a fantasyland considering it was filmed in Los Angeles and it is repeatedly disrespectful to the harsh reality of NYC rent. We can forgive the starved eyebrows, but a world without being constantly attached to our phones? No dating apps? No Instagram? And why, for the love of Jennifer Aniston’s legendary haircut, are they always hanging out at that coffee shop?
Here’s the alternate NYC friendship fantasy timeline nobody asked for but we all need: Friends in 2019.
They all live together in a windowless Brooklyn basement.
In the original Friends, Rachel and Monica’s Greenwich Village apartment with a gorgeous skylight, balcony, living room the size of a school gymnasium, and a kitchen so adorable it looks like it was designed by hipster Keebler elves is the main hangout spot. Joey and Chandler live across the hall in an apartment they also couldn’t afford while Phoebe lives on 92nd St, and it’s never fully explained how she is constantly commuting downtown to sit on a couch with a bunch of fellow beautiful people who don’t understand her art. In 2019, though, they’re all together in Brooklyn, baby! Monica and Rachel’s rent-controlled dream is in Williamsburg, but it’s a windowless basement they share with Chandler, Joey, Ross, Phoebe, and a few mice. Luxury!
Chandler works at a startup and is constantly bragging about unlimited cold brew on tap.
Chandler has a standing desk, a ping pong table and a fridge full of Kombucha at his office, and he needs everyone to know. The app Chandler works for is vaguely dating-related, but it’s unclear what exactly he does there because he’s much more interested in talking about “the perks.” Despite his office’s open floor plan and craft beer fridge, he and Monica (a food blogger) never make enough money to move out of the basement.
Rachel and Ross have an open relationship, but they can’t agree on the terms.
Open relationships can get complicated for anyone, but for Ross and Rachel? What a mess. The entire “we were on a break” episode is a situation where Ross ends up getting emotionally attached to a woman from work that he and Rachel occasionally have threesomes with. Turns out, Rachel was also developing feelings for her and by the final season, their arguments about their influence on their baby daughter’s gender identity send them to a few productive sessions of couple’s therapy.
Every episode’s main conflict is their crippling student loan debt.
Regardless of what happens, every episode of 2019 Friends ends with the realization that none of them will ever own property or live a live similar to the ones their parents led. The only one who successfully pays off her student debt is Rachel, but the rest of the group resents her because her wealthy family fronted most of the tab.
Phoebe’s “Smelly Cat” goes viral on YouTube and it changes her forever.
Phoebe couldn’t resist uploading “Smelly Cat” to her YouTube channel, and it becomes an overnight viral sensation. Phoebe is immediately recognized everywhere she goes and she decides to monetize the song’s success with an America’s Got Talent audition that unfortunately flops. Still, her Etsy shop for healing crystals is a success.
Joey is a contestant on ‘Bachelor in Paradise’.
This one is obvious, of course. Joey is made for Bachelor Nation and instantly becomes a fan favorite, working his way from The Bachelorette to Bachelor in Paradise to eventually becoming the Bachelor. Does he find a lasting love on the shows? Nope. But he does have a series of popular reaction gifs and makes a decent living from nightclub appearances. In the 2019 Friends 10th season, Joey returns to Bachelor Nation as the bartender on Bachelor in Paradise, but he gets kicked off for flirting with too many contestants.
Rachel is an Instagram influencer.
In season one of the real Friends, Rachel’s boss at Central Perk tells her she’s a terrible waitress. Yet she’s able to keep that job for years! How does she make any money when these people sit there for hours with a check of two coffees and one muffin? Rachel is fired from waitressing her third shift in 2019 Friends and turns to Instagram for money instead. With her family connections, a social media manager helps her build a brand that focuses mostly on “wellness,” “positivity,” and most importantly, being hot.
Joey’s role as Doctor Drake Ramoray is the closest any of them ever get to health insurance.
In 2019, Joey does appear on a soap opera, but the majority of his acting gigs are in Bachelor Nation. Still, none of the friends have real health insurance because Chandler’s startup purposefully hires people under 26 so they don’t have to provide health coverage. Rachel receives free teeth whitening and dental care kits from her sponsored content posts, but otherwise the gang just uses WebMD and hopes for the best.
That coffee shop is definitely a bar.
The most significant difference from the original is that the 2019 version of Friends replaces Central Perk coffee shop with a neighborhood dive bar. Considering 2019 coffee shops are filled with freelancers on laptops fighting over the table with the outlets, a coffee shop isn’t a great setting for a sitcom. Also, it’s forever unclear how that coffee shop stayed in business when they have a five person staff for a total of 10 customers and a very limited menu.
Eventually, NYC becomes too expensive for all of them.
The basement landlord finally discovers that Monica isn’t an “87-year-old woman who doesn’t know how to work a VCR” and the finale of 2019’s Friends features our fearless crew at the bar, defeated. “Maybe Philly?” Ross suggests, but Rachel replies, “Perhaps Austin.” It fades to black while an acoustic version of the beloved theme song plays.
Images: Giphy (4)
There are few things in life considered timeless, among them are The Beatles, red lipstick, and, of course, Friends. Seriously, that show kept me alive during my junior semester abroad in a city that’s tied for least things to do and worst food. If you’re ever in Spain, be sure to not visit to Salamanca. Anyway, as an English major, I was trained to genuinely believe that characters live past the end of the story, so I’m really hoping that 15 years after the last episode aired, the Friends have all been promoted many, many times and can now afford their multi-bedroom apartments in one of New York’s most expensive neighborhoods.
That got me thinking, what are these guys up to in 2019? Not IRL, of course, but in Friends land aka
a set in L.A. the streets of Greenwich Village. Did Joey ever get cast again? Did Chandler graduate from his internship? Are they still spending 23 hours a day in a f*cking coffee shop? And more importantly, what are they actually earning in order to afford these multi-bedroom apartments in one of New York’s most expensive neighborhoods? Let’s find out!
Monica is my favorite. She’s loud, she’s pushy, and she’s clean af. Yep, she’s a Jewish mom, alright. In the last episode, she, Chandler and their twin babies moved upstate to Westchester County. If you’ve ever been there, you know that it is a beautiful place with absolutely nothing to do. Before she moved, Monica worked hard for her head chef position at a ritzy resto called Javu’s (fictional, I checked), and I’m guessing she didn’t just give that dream up to push a double stroller around the sidewalks of Chappaqua, New York. Nothing against moms—in fact, I hope to be one some day in the distant future—but Monica has always fostered a serious and not-to-be-f*cked with work ethic and I can’t imagine she’d work her butt off to throw her professional goals away just because she moved upstate. My guess is that, after a few years, the Bings moved back to Manhattan so that Monica could open her own French fusion restaurant on, like, the Upper West Side. To put things in perspective, a head chef at Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, makes between $53k and $96k. Given Monica’s extensive time spent in kitchens/diners all over the city, I’m guessing she’d make a salary closer to the right end of the spectrum. Good call saddling up next her, Chandy.
Good god, I hope he at least got tenure at NYU after what must feel like 75 years of studying fossils. Assuming he did get tenure, I’m also going to assume he’d be the director of the paleontology department at this point in time. Mostly because there prob weren’t too many people up for never getting laid as the most academic department’s leader. So the average salary of a department director role at NYU is $101k. Excuse me, what?! Are young Americans buried in student loans because their disgustingly expensive tuitions are being used to finance department heads’ six-figure salaries? As a young American who graduated from college, I think I speak for all of us when I say we need answers on this. Knowing Ross, he is spending his influx of cash money on more wannabe vintage decor from Pottery Barn and, like monthly Birchbox Man subscriptions. That’s honestly all I have to say about him because I refuse to discuss the least likable character for more than 200 words.
Rachel: Fashion “Executive”
I put “executive” in quotes because wtf does that mean? Whenever I’m swiping through Bumble and land on a guy with something vague af like “Associate at Company” as his job title, I just assume he’s unemployed and waiting for his trust fund to become available. So, in the last episode, Rachel gets an offer from Louis Vuitton for a “fashion executive” position in the company’s Paris office and she almost goes, but doesn’t because Ross’s whiney bullsh*t gets to her before the plane takes off. After Rachel decides to stay in New York, we don’t really get answers about what she does re: her job. I am guessing she just decided to work for LV’s New York office, but who knows? And given her experience in buying, I’m also going to assume that she’s a buyer at Louis Vuitton, in which case, she’s making around $40k. Sounds about right. Good thing she has Ross’ income to fall back on. As a survivor of the fashion world, I can confirm that it’s a terrible industry if you want to be able to enjoy simple pleasures of life like wifi or electricity.
This is another favorite Bumble job title. When I see “actor” on someone’s profile, it’s safe to say that he’s a Flywheel instructor. I honestly have no idea how much Joey made during the show, but considering he was, like always out of work, his typical income was prob close to zero. And because I’m a cynical New Yorker who’s seen everyone in film except for Emily Ratajkowski’s sneaky bastard of a husband get f*cked by the industry, I’m assuming the most prestigious work Joey has to offer is supporting roles in NYU student films. Since Joey clearly didn’t realize that he could be living rent-free in a beautiful Noho loft courtesy of the New York Multiple Dwelling Law (the only kind thing New York government workers have done for creatives), Joey is probably a bartender at a dive bar, where he’d be making a whopping $3/hour, not including tips. As a former waitress, I’m not totally shocked by this considering most people in the service industry earn their income through tips, and something tells me this Italian meatball is doin’ just fine.
After her failed massage van idea, I’d really hope Phoebe would get a stable job at a spa or something. The mystery of how she affords her apartment will forever be one of the best kept secrets to date, but maybe after she gets hired by a place like Red Door Spa, she can make her living situation more believable. Knowing Phoebe, though, she probably works at some parlor in Korea Town that offers happy endings after a mediocre rub down. Let’s hope not. Either way, she’d be taking home between $15-$35 plus tips. We know her music career won’t be taking off anytime soon, so I’m really hoping she put the guitar down and took on a few extra hours at the spa.
One of Friends‘ most famous plot lines is that no one knows what Chandler does for a living. I’ve seen the show at least five times since it ended, and I still don’t know what he does, even when I actually pay attention to the office scene. So after hours of research, I discovered that Chandler’s official job was data processing and statistical reconfiguration for multi-national corporations (???) before he became a junior advertising copywriter at some young agency. I don’t even know what to Google for his first job, so I am assuming he stayed in advertising and climbed up the ladder until he reached Don Draper boss status. Chandler is prob working at a mid-level agency that earns between $2-$6 million in revenue, but he’s a senior account executive, so he’s making around $100k. Not bad for someone who was an actual unpaid intern in his 30s. Good thing he and Monica are raking in the cash because, if my twin brothers taught me anything, it’s that twins are f*cking expensive. Lastly, I’m glad he finally got his sh*t together because he really hated being a transponster and no one should work at a job they hate, even if the money is good, and that is why I will never understand why people become traders on Wall Street.
Images: Netflix; Giphy (6)
Everything I’ve learned in life, I learned from Friends. No, not my core group of Comm-majoring-drunk on-a-Wednesday-afternoon-losers—I’m talking about the six greatest people you will ever meet on the single greatest sitcom you will ever see (except for Ross and don’t @ me on that). Like, I’d never survive my 20s had I not learned that counting Mississippily when spray tanning results in borderline blackface, “meat sweats” are a legit medical condition, and being “on a break” apparently doesn’t mean I have a free pass at drunk-dialing my ex.
But out of everything, this is hands down the most valuable piece of info I’ve learned:
JK, that one I actually did learn from my own friends’ mistakes. But something I was forced to learn the hard way was that spending weekday afternoons in a coffeehouse bitching to my friends about being ghosted doesn’t result in me coming home to my comfy downtown loft with takeout (the ‘90s term for Seamless) every night. Not that shacking it in a studio apartment with three other people plotting ways to divvy up the remaining $12.35 balance on my debit card isn’t my definition of fun, but it’d be cool if someone gave me a heads up that life was gonna be this way, ya know? Anyway, I know your job’s a joke, you’re probably broke, and your love life… wellppp… but the Friends friends would’ve been much worse off had their apartments been IRL-priced, so grab a bottle and chill the fuck out.
Joey & Chandler’s (& Rachel’s) Apartment
Address: 90 Bedford St., #19 New York NY
I won’t discredit the size of Joey and Chandler’s apartment located across the hall from Monica’s, but I will discredit Joey’s acting career, which was comparable to gas station sushi. After being killed off Days of Our Lives early on, he went flat broke (as do most acting wannabes). Luckily, Joey had Chandler to save him from being a full-time dumpster diver, but Chandler was forced to provide for Joey and two farm animals on a
transponster whatever-the-fuck-he-does’s salary for at least five seasons, which makes no sense.
A 2-bed/1-bath apartment in West Village that’s big enough to fit a foosball table and two Barcaloungers isn’t as shocking as the $4,200/month rent Chandler put down, which is like $2,850/month 18 years ago (yes, you’re old af), and that’s on the lower end of the spectrum, assuming the place hadn’t yet been tampered with during a game of “Hammer Darts” or “Extreme Fireball.” That rent also doesn’t include the utility bills and other shit Chandler had to pay for, like Joey’s health insurance and will to live, but honestly thank god for Joey, or Chan would prob still be half a virgin by now.
Ross’ (& Rachel’s) Apartment
Address: Somewhere across the street from Monica’s place
If it wasn’t for Ross pulling the No. 1 fuckboy move and
mixing up his hoes in different area codes almost marrying that British bitch with a scone up her ass, he’d still be living in a typical NYC shithole. Instead, he found an apartment with a bird’s-eye view of his sister’s and best friend’s sexcapades every night (EW). But out of every Friends character’s living situation, the only believable one just so happens to be Ross’s, thanks to his career as a doctor paleontologist/college professor who sometimes fucks his students.
A 2-bed/1-bath, 700-square-foot apartment in the same West Village neighborhood as Monica averages to about $4,500/month, which would’ve been about $3,054/month back in ‘99. And considering Ross threw a bitch fit (when tf did he not?) about his fucking apothecary table that one time, I’d assume his bougie dino cave was equipped with an updated interior and (prob) fossilized foliage preserved in the wood flooring or some shit. Therefore, it’d likely be at the more expensive end of this rent spectrum.
Monica’s (& Rachel’s & Chandler’s & Phoebe’s) Apartment
Address: 90 Bedford St., #20 New York NY
Monica illegally subletting her grandma’s old apartment for 10+ years is the kind of savagery I strive to reach one day. But you seriously have to be a verified idiot to think that a ‘50s diner cook with flame-retardant boobs and a barista with waitressing skills as abominable as Blake Lively’s acting career would live comfortably in a 1,500-square-foot apartment, and not to mention while also feeding four other mooch-y parasite friends who apparently enter and eat and leave as they please.
She and Rachel were only paying $300/month living in their 2-bed/1-bath open floor plan apartment with a balcony that’s been rent controlled since apparently 600 B.C. Yeah, I said $300, like one pair of Khloé’s stupidly priced denim line, or a weekend bar tab. I already mentioned that 700(ish)-square-foot apartments in West Village average $4,200/month, so just double the rent for double the floor plan and maybe pop a Xanny immediately after.
Phoebe’s (& Rachel’s) Apartment
Address: 5 Morton St. # 14, New York, NY
Actual Rent: $3,400/month
First off, I’m calling bullshit on Phoebe and this whole freelance masseuse thing which, looking back, was def a fancy term for the upscale West Village prostitute, Regina Phalange. You heard it here first. This brings me to my next issue. Phoebe might’ve also inherited her 1-bed/1-bath apartment from her grandma, but I’d rather believe the blatant lie that is Trump’s latest tweet than believe that a freelance masseuse, who literally cancelled on and fucked over 90% of her clients every episode, made a comfortable living in Manhattan.
Her decent-sized 1-bed/1-bath pad, which was later turned into a 2-bed when Denise lived with her (K WHO TF WAS DENISE?!), was located four blocks from the rest of the friends’ apartments with an average monthly rent of $3,400 ($2,300 in the ‘90s), but there’s still no fucking way she’d be able to make rent while also doing this thing called LIVING. And do NOT even think about bringing the loose pocket change and occasional condom tips from Phoebe’s open mic days into this equation. #ItsNotSmellyCatsFault
Phoebe’s Rundown Buick LeSabre
Address: Probably some alleyway in Hunts Point
Ok, so we never really saw Phoebe’s life pre-friends (or we did if you count watching Shameless), but we do know that she lived a fucking badass/hard-knock life by living in a rundown Buick LeSabre on the streets of New York growing up. I mean, she mugged prepubescent goober Ross who collected rocks instead of Hot Wheels, and that in and of itself is iconic.
Based on the cost of gas to keep her car warm in the winter, the medical costs from getting Hepatitis after a pimp spit in her mouth, the shared funeral costs for her mom who killed herself, and the priceless cost of living to tell it all, Phoebe is a fucking legend and a probable alien, but mostly a complete mystery that I will dedicate the rest of my life to cracking the case on.