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How Phoebe Buffay Changed

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phoebe buffay lisa kudrow image
Warner Bros.

A huge amount has been written about Friends over the years. That is to be expected, given it is a TV show that defines an era, whether you love or hate it. Much more will be written when the long-awaited cast reunion finally happens after its COVID-enforced delay. It was supposed to be filmed in March but there is currently no date scheduled for either filming or broadcast. But how did the characters themselves change over shows duration? Let’s look at Phoebe Buffay.

But how did the characters themselves change over the 10 seasons & 236 episodes?

Let’s focus on the artist occasionally known as Regina Phalange, but more familiar to us as Phoebe Buffay.

It seems Phoebe was the trickiest character to cast with numerous actresses auditioning for the role. They included Jane Lynch, Megan Mullaly & Ellen DeGeneres.

Although it would seem easy to play a character that’s quirky and different, paradoxically it’s more difficult to find the right actor to play that character. In the wrong hands, those quirks which the audience are supposed to be charmed by can end up being enormously irritating. I’m sure those gifted actresses would have done a perfectly good job. But, it takes a special talent to bring all those elements of Phoebe’s personality together successfully. There’s no question Lisa Kudrow was an inspired choice to play Phoebe Buffay or Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock. She got the job after a guest stint in Mad About You playing a waitress called Ursula. In case you’re wondering, yes, Ursula was then written into Friends as Phoebe’s twin. She managed to brilliantly meld that toughness, wisdom, fun & energy into the character we grew to know & love.

Style

Phoebe’s style is unashamedly bohemian and a true visual representation of her personality.

Bold & bright colours in some occasionally surprising ensembles are her trademark. But she has no hesitation in getting properly dressed up for a big occasion. When those two worlds collide is when Phoebe comes into her own. In ‘The One Where No-One’s Ready’, Phoebe is forced to mask a hummus stain on her dress. When she reappears from Rachel’s bedroom with an enormous Christmas decoration covering the area, you see her as she truly is. Happy to conform when needed, but ultimately she’s always going to be completely unique.

Music

While Phoebe Buffay isn’t the only musician in the group – who can forget Ross’ keyboard skills? – she is the only one who’s musical abilities are integral to her personality.

This is encapsulated in her attempt to teach Joey to play the guitar. Pheebs describes the chords in terms more akin to yoga positions because she doesn’t know the real names of them. She plays music for herself, if other people love it then great, but as long as she finds pleasure in it then that’s all that matters.

Fortunately, we all find pleasure in her songs, so much so that the iconic Smelly Cat has been performed by Taylor Swift on a world tour. Lisa Kudrow also sang the song on stage with The Pretenders, whose lead singer Chrissie Hynde wrote the song, prior to her appearance in an episode.

Relationships

We get an insight into Phoebe’s true nature during her brief time with David in the first season. That romance, and her sadness in David leaving for Minsk, showed that despite all her idiosyncrasies, she craved a conventional relationship. You knew that the likes of Roger, Parker and Eric were never going to last.

Gary’s decision to shoot a bird while lying next to her in bed is completely anathema to her love for all living creatures . That action ruins what looked like a really promising pairing. It’s entirely in keeping with Phoebe’s way of life that she meets her husband courtesy of Joey failing to sort out a double date for her. In his panic he randomly shouted “Mike!”in Central Perk to see who would answer to make up the foursome.

Luckily for them, Mike Hannigan, and consequently, love answered. Mike was clearly much less of an extrovert than Phoebe, which is not exactly a shock. But his decision to quit law to achieve his dream of opening his own piano bar was totally in keeping with Phoebe’s philosophy of following your passions.

Family

It’s obvious that the Friends are her family, which is unsurprising given the sadness of her upbringing. Her father left when she was a child, her mother’s committed suicide and she was estranged from her twin. Despite this, her lack of anger and bitterness towards them is humbling. That said, I’m sure a different approach would have been taken if this family situation had appeared in a drama rather than a primetime sitcom.

Phoebe is arguably the character who goes on the biggest personal journey through the 10 seasons. She discovers she has a half brother and acts as his surrogate in order that he can have a family, resulting in the birth of the triplets. Phoebe divorces her ice dancer first husband, who she’d married so he could get a green card. She also finds that her Mum Lily, who committed suicide when she was 14, wasn’t her biological mother, and reconnects with her father. That’s more like the story arc of one of Joey’s colleagues on Days of our Lives than a mainstream sitcom character.

Joey

Speaking of Joey, one of the loveliest elements of the series is how his & Phoebe’s relationship develops. Initially, she’s closest to Monica, having previously been her roommate. But it’s clear of her affection for Joey from the moment she tries to protect when Ursula ends their romance. They revel in each other’s silliness & childlike qualities.

Joey’s instinctive reaction when he thinks Phoebe is pregnant is to hunt down the alleged absent father & then propose to her. Her comic fury when it then turns out that Rachel is pregnant & he offers to marry her instead is a glimpse into a possible future had she not met Mike.

Summary

Phoebe is the friend we all really want and probably all need in our lives. She’d liven up any social situation no matter how mundane whether she intends to or not. She brings genuine life experience and a perspective that would make us think again no matter how serious we feel our problems may be. But in times of crisis she also exudes warmth, wisdom and love. You can’t ask for better qualities than that in a Friend.


That’s our list of ways Phoebe Buffay changed from Season 1 to Season 10 in Friends. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


More of our movie reviews HERE

Read IMDB information about Friends HERE.

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TV News

Friends Reunion: The One 17 Years Later

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HBO

As you probably know by now, today we’re getting a Friends reunion! Exciting right? But much to every superfan’s dismay it’s just the cast getting together. Them reliving the memories, with host James Corden, playing games and looking around the old set. Unfortunately, it’s not a character episode where we get to find out what happened to our favourite group of friends over the last 17 years. Which let’s face it, is what we all want.

As Friends fans ourselves we are dying to find out just what happened to the gang. So much must have happened. Especially as most of the Friends children are now around the same age they were in the very first episode of Friends in 1994.

Below are our thoughts on where the gang and their families are now. So grab an oversized mug of coffee, a chocolate chip muffin and indulge in our Friends Reunion fan fiction alongside the HBO special.

Chandler, Monica, Jack and Erica.

Still living in their dream home in Westchester County, Chandler has continued his career in advertising. But has surpassed his junior title and is now the head of his copywriting team. Monica now works as a private chef and food blogger. She even has a YouTube channel with her daughter Erica. Erica is now 17 and in her senior year of high school. Monica is head of the Parent-Teacher Association, making sure all the students stick to the school rules, much to Jack and Erica’s embarrassment.

Erica follows in her mother’s footsteps as a foodie and has turned her hand to baking. With a huge following on Instagram, YouTube and TicTok, Erica is set to be big in the baking industry. Jack, Erica’s twin brother, on the other hand is a bit of an anomaly to the family as he is a rising American Football star and captain of the school’s team. He has already been offered a scholarship to several colleges across the country. Chandler tries to help him with the sport. But this mainly involves him playing Jack the video of the friends playing football on Thanksgiving in 1996. It’s not even in HD!

Chandler and Monica are still as strong as ever as they work as a team to navigate through their careers and raising their children. Not long after Rachel decided to stay in America, all the other offers on the house next door to Monica and Chandler’s fell through. Meaning the previous owners had to drop the price. Ross and Rachel bought it for a steal, something which Ross never let Monica forget and always brings it up at joint dinner parties… That was until the divorce – spoiler.

Ross, Rachel, Ben, Emma and Jamie

Not long after the pair move next door to the Bings, they decide to go back to the chapel in Vegas where they first got married and tie the knot again. This time they were sober.

After turning down the job for Louis Vuitton in Paris. Rachel got her job back at Ralph Lauren… thanks to Ron (Ross). But, she found it very hard to get back into the swing of things. Before things got too tedious at work Rachel fell pregnant with their second child, a boy called Jamie. She then decided not to go back to work and concentrate on Emma and Jack, alongside Monica and the twins.

Once Jamie was going to school, Ross who is now Director of Science at New York University, managed to call around his contacts and secure Rachel a job as a university lecturer in fashion and design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

In true Ross and Rachel fashion though, it’s not always been smooth sailing. During their sixth ‘break’, Rachel bumps into Mark (from Louis Vuitton) on her way to work. After a night of dinner and drinks, they end up in a hotel room together. The morning after as they are leaving the hotel, Jamie and Jack Bing, who are on the way to see Emma at college, catch Rachel and Mark saying goodbye. Jamie and Jack tell Emma who tells Erica who tells Monica who tells Ross – you’ve got to watch out for the trail.

Ross, after years of ‘we were on a break’ jokes, in a fit of jealousy files for divorce. And moved back to his flat in New York which he was renting out. Jamie currently lives between Ross and Rachels house. But, he has to sleep on the couch in his Dad’s apartment as Ben has also moved in with his Dad. Carol and Susan have now moved out to Baltimore. But Ben wanted to stay in New York to pursue his modelling and acting career. Which he has been working on since his childhood starring role in a soup commercial.

Emma, now 19 has also moved into central New York to study Public Affairs at Columbia University. She and her friends regally hang out a trendy smoothie bar called Juiced near Central Park. One with metal tables and plenty of USB ports for their laptops. Emma likes it so much there as it used to be where her Mum and Dad hung out with their friends when it was called Central Perk. Emma also regally meets her Mum there for a catch up when she is in the capital for work. Rachel always reminisces about the time she worked there and the burned orange couch they all sat on. She wished she knew where that was now!

Currently, Ross and Rachel are trying to work on things… they are keeping it a secret for now!

Phoebe, Mike and Valerie

Now living just a few streets away from Monica, Chandler, and Rachel. Phoebe and Mike also have a daughter Valerie, who is now 15.

Phoebe is still a Masseuse and Mike’s piano playing has reached new heights. He is now a session pianist, who plays all over New York and North America alongside big named artists. One year he was booked on a world tour with Sting. But he had to turn it down when he found out Phoebe wouldn’t be able to tag along at any time, due to the restraining order.

To make sure they always had family time Phoebe, Mike and Valerie also have a family band where they perform at weddings, birthdays, and coffee shops. They also have a new rendition of Smelly Cat which they often perform. Valarie also has a huge crush on Jamie Geller and always tries to sit next to him when they have family gatherings. Jamie doesn’t realise she has the crush though, as he is too busy trying to talk to Valerie’s older cousin Frank Jr. Jr. Whose now 23 and a very successful Drag queen rumoured to be on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Phoebes niece, Leslie (also one of the triplets), now lives with Phoebe and Mike. After a couple of spats in rehab, following a loss in the family Leslie lost her way a little but was helped back on the right path by Phoebe who got her into massage therapy and even got her a job at the same Massage parlour.

Unknown to Phoebe, Mike and Ross, Leslie is currently dating Ben in secret and is also pregnant with his child.

Joey and Alex

Luckily for Monica and Chandler, Joey never really needed to make full-time use of his room in the Bing house. As he now lives in LA with his hot-shot lawyer wife, Alex (whom he met in ‘Joey’). Joey’s a movie star now. His most recent movie, a biographical movie where he played a young Al Pacino, got him an Academy Award nomination for the part but he lost out to the actual Al Pacino for his portrayal of in Godfather Part 4.

He does make use of ‘The Joey’ room when he comes back to visit. He often meets up with Ben to help him with his acting classes. Ben has already how the ‘Smell the Fart’ technique down.

Joey and Alex have also spent a lot of times with the Bings, as they are also going through the adoption process and need Chandler and Monica’s reference. They have said they will do it for them… but, they will not write it in crayon as they don’t think that method would work twice.

And the Friends of the Friends reunion?

Frank Jr, Alice, Frank Jr. Jr., Chandler and Leslie

Frank Jr and Alice had a long and successful relationship all the way up to 2 years ago. That’s when Alice sadly died whilst they were on the way to the Coachella festival with the triplets.

Not long after the loss of Alice, Frank Jr. sold their house and is now travelling America in a VW camper and studies yoga. Chandler enrolled at the University of Missouri to study veterinary medicine. Frank Jr. Jr. moved to Central New York where he found his love of Drag and fashion. Leslie as we know after a bit of a rocky patch is living with Pheobe.

Janice

After her second divorce to Sid Goralnik, both of her children in college and after realising Chandler is still in a committed relationship, Janice decides to take a trip to the Bahamas for a little downtime. There she meets a retired ophthalmologist.

The next time she see’s Monica and Chandler is at a family get together when she is introduced to them as the new Mrs Burk. ‘Oh My God’.

Gunther

Not long after we last saw the friends, Gunther decided that if he wasn’t going to see Rachel every day there was no point in him still working at the coffee shop.

The coffee shop was taken on by a Karaoke company, then a few years after that is was bought out again and made into Juiced. For several years after leaving the coffee shop Gunther went from job to job not really knowing what he wanted to do. He was just about to lose all hope in finding his perfect career when one night he won the Lotto!

Gunther quickly invested in stocks and shares. Something he knew a lot about after listening in to people’s conversations in the coffee shop. This has since tripled his winnings. He now lives with his supermodel girlfriend, which he met whilst he was the subject of MTV’s the Batcheler, in a $2billion mansion. He managed to kit out his whole house just how he wanted, everything brand spanking new. All except one item. A burnt orange sofa that takes pride of place in his very own in-house coffee house.


So, there you have it. This is where we think our favourite Friends characters are now. Do you agree or disagree with our reunion thoughts? If you have any other ideas of what could have happened to them leave a comment below.


Find out about how Phoebe changed across the Friends series HERE.

Read IMDb information on Friends: The Reunion HERE.

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