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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Cobra Kai Season 4 – Review
Cobra Kai season four is out now on Netflix and the All Valley is back and better than ever. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
It’s January, and new shows are popping up everywhere. This brings us to the show that I and my friends have been holding our breaths for: the fourth season of the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai! After three seasons, I wondered if there was anything left to mine from the Karate Kid lore or the Johnny/Daniel dynamic. I am happy to report that this might be my favourite season yet! It manages to not only expand upon the universe it has created, but to bring in a new villain, who is so bad that he threatens to outdo even John Kreese!
Season four sets us off where the third left off, with Johnny and Daniel having joined forces to fight Cobra Kai. Their friendship arc is the glue that holds this season together. The story focuses largely on whether they will be able to pull it together and make their partnership work. As in previous seasons, their relationship has its ups and downs. The stakes are heightened, however, as the season leads up to the All-Valley Tournament. A bet between the three senseis – Kreese, Daniel, and Johnny – means that losing the All Valley is losing the title of sensei.
This season explores the ways that both Johnny and Daniel work with the kids. It also examines the kids’ struggles as they prepare for the All Valley while dealing with conflict within the ever-changing network of friends and enemies in the dojos. Robbie has left juvenile hall and decided to join up with Cobra Kai as a means of inflicting revenge on both his dad and Daniel. Tori and Sam continue their rivalry. And John Reese’s old friend Terry Silver (of Karate Kid 3 fame) shows up to kick Cobra Kai into high gear.
Daniel’s son, Anthony, who has largely been absent until now, faces his own dilemma when his friends begin bullying Kenny, the new kid in town. This soft-spoken middle school character brings us into the world of the younger kids, setting up yet another storyline. Kenny becomes the victim of a gang of kids (including Anthony), enduring round after round of bullying before Robbie takes him under his wing. After his induction into Cobra Kai, the formerly shy middle-schooler becomes a bully himself.
Shades of grey
This brings me to one of my favourite things about the show. The constant back and forth dynamic between characters makes us feel that anything is possible. There is no black and white in the world of Cobra Kai. Where the Karate Kid told us that Daniel was good, and Johnny was bad, this show gives us a very different point of view. It’s a world where we’re never sure who to root for. In this season, we even see Hawk make a return to the “good guys” side after giving up his spot at Cobra Kai.
With Eagle Fang (Johnny’s new dojo) and Miyagi-Do teaming up, the kids – and the adults – have to learn to work together. Of course, complications ensue. Johnny becomes jealous of what he perceives as Miguel’s preference for Daniel over him. Sam wants to learn both her dad’s karate style and Johnny’s, despite her father’s discouragement. Meanwhile, at Cobra Kai, Kreese is losing his grip on the dojo. His former war buddy, Terry Silver, puts off a rather benign appearance in episode one, growing more and more evil with each episode.
This season is lacking in many of the big fight scenes of the previous seasons, instead choosing to focus their energy on the characters. The All Valley Tournament features several great karate matches and offers a satisfying conclusion to Johnny and Daniel’s arc. In the end, Cobra Kai takes the tournament win, but Johnny and Daniel have reached an understanding.
Tori defeats Sam to take the women’s All Valley trophy but later overhears her sensei paying off one of the referees. It’s clear that Cobra Kai has pulled yet another fast one. But the season ends on an even more ominous – and unexpected – note. Terry Silver assaults the over-aged former Cobra Kai member, Stingray, sending him to the hospital. He then makes a deal with Stingray to blame the crime on Kreese. We end the season with Kreese in handcuffs, Terry Silver set to take over Cobra Kai, and the future of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do uncertain. In a last shocking twist, Miguel leaves town in search of his biological father.
Although some may miss the school hallway throw downs, I found this one satisfying in a different way. It just goes to show that the ever-expanding Cobra Kai universe can keep bringing surprises season after season.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10
Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai season four. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out our Hawkeye episode one and two review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Spider-Man: No Way Home HERE.
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