After the much ballyhooed Friends reunion, there were all kinds of think-pieces to rank the friends "From Ross to Best." Here's mine:
It seems everyone agrees on this. That one episode where we was jealous of Mark was enough to guarantee him the bottom spot. Linda Holmes of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour said that he got increasingly "mopey" over the seasons and I think that's a really good description of what made Ross so annoying.
Okay, hear me out. Apparently people didn't like Rachel because she was spoiled and self-interested. I was totally okay with those characteristics; I thought they fit the character of the popular high school girl who, like her mother (Marlo Thomas), expected to go from her daddy's house to the sorority house to her husband's house. Although, I never could piece together why the spoiled, self-interested popular girl would've been friends with the fat girl in class. That part actually didn't fit the character.
The thing that bothered me about Rachel was how every time Ross began to find happiness with someone else, she stepped in with BUT I THINK I MIGHT LOVE YOU WE SHOULD TRY AGAIN. Julie. Bonnie. Emily. Showing up at the wedding in London was a total bitch move. Maybe this is what people mean by "self-interested."
TV writers (especially comedy writers) tend to take a character's quirks to the extreme if the show goes on for very long. Like for instance, Urkel, who started out as a nerdy boy-next-door but ended up being just comically absurd. On Friends, I really noticed it with Monica. It's almost like they didn't know what to do with her other than turn her into a militant shrew.
Side note: The fat jokes about Monica obviously didn't age well and they were always WAY more extreme than her size warranted. The One That Could've Been part 2 episode where the alternate-universe characters did the opening? At the end, they all sat on the sofa in front of the fountain and "fat Monica" perched on the arm, and the whole sofa tilted. AS IF SHE WEIGHED MORE THAN 5 WHOLE PEOPLE.
Chandler was always meant to be the comic relief and to be fair, his one-liners were usually pretty funny, and he delivered them well. Over time, he felt a little one-note to me. The only depth they gave him came via his family-of-origin backstory that consisted solely of homophobic jokes. There were a lot of cringe-worthy moments that didn't age well on this show, but the worst of them all had to be Kathleen Turner playing a trans woman.
Side note: Unrelated to any complaints I have about Chandler's character, watching the early episodes where Matthew Perry was so, SO thin, knowing what we know now, is painful to watch. Especially since the 90s style put him in oversized shirts and suits.
I love Joey. Joey was cute and funny and sweet. And he had the best facial expressions. Who can forget how his eyes bugged out when Chandler joked "There was an 8-year-old who lived here, but she died 50 years ago." (Or for that matter, the entire scene with Dakota Fanning.) Oh, Joey, you had me at "Thanksgiving pants."
Plus, he got one of the best lines in all of the show: "I'm Chandler...could I BE wearing any more clothes?"
(And if you haven't already, google how he dislocated his shoulder fighting Chandler for the chair in this episode. It's why he was wearing a sling in the ep that followed.)
Side note: On the reunion show, Matt LeBlanc seemed the most authentic and genuinely funny of them all.
I think everyone is in agreement on this one. Phoebe clearly had the hardest life and yet she never lost her positive outlook or sweet disposition. On the reunion, Lisa Kudrow described her character as "floopy" - a word I never could have come up with myself and yet is...perfect. And speaking of perfect, The One with Princess Consuela is pretty damn near a perfect episode of television.
Plus, of all the Friends, she definitely got the best spouse.
Next, we'll rank the Friends guest star appearances. That one will take considerably more work.