While Friends is a bona fide ensemble show in which any given main character is as significant as the next, not every two is on equal footing: Joey and Chandler as a pair are a lot more present than, say, Joey and Monica, who have a lot less in common. (Food and Chandler, mostly?) Let us now set aside romantic couplings for a moment and turn our attention to the platonic duos. Which pairing is the best? An examination:
Ross and Joey
Solid bond, but forever tainted by both dating Rachel.
Joey and Rachel
Again, forever tainted.
Ross and Phoebe
She mugged him once when they were both kids, and they kissed once in a flashback. But they don’t feel like much of a pair, thanks perhaps to their differing takes on science. They’re buds, sure, but if everyone else were suddenly gone, it’s hard to picture just Ross and Phoebe hanging out.
Monica and Joey
They’ll always have jam. Monica and Joey don’t seem to have a lot in common except for how much they trust each other, perhaps based on a transitive trust in Chandler.
Chandler and Rachel
Likewise Chandler and Rachel, whose main bond is via Monica. Sure, they went, er, tit for tat early on, but their relationship is more one of proximity than devotion.
Monica and Ross
Because they’re siblings, Monica and Ross can get away with being slightly meaner to each other than they could if their bonds were merely social. Though, thanks to damagingly different treatment from their parents, they sometimes bring out the worst aspects of one another: Monica’s compulsive competitiveness and need for praise; Ross’s need to be perceived as successful and for his personal oddities never to be called out. A good sibling pair, but not the best of these duos.
Chandler and Phoebe
While Chandler sometimes rolls his eyes at Joey, he seems more accepting of Phoebe’s loopier behaviors. Her fake seduction in “The One Where Everybody Finds Out” is wonderful, and all is quickly forgiven, since he enlists her help in picking out Monica’s engagement ring.
Monica and Phoebe
Phoebe and Monica butt heads because of Monica’s uptightness and Phoebe’s laid-back approach, but beneath the occasional bickering is a really tender protectiveness of one another.
Ross and Chandler
My best friend and my sister?! My best friend and my sister! Oh, you two.
Monica and Rachel
They have the advantage of having been roommates for six seasons, and their bond often seems like the strongest friendship. They agree to make out for one minute, they have a shared condom stash, and they obviously love each other very much. But, because their history goes so far back, they, too, have some lingering acrimony, particularly in the ways Monica relates to Ross and Rachel as a couple. (See: “The One With Monica’s Thunder.”) A good pair, but they have some beef.
Joey and Chandler
Never were two people more suited to helping one another. Joey’s got the sexual smarts, Chandler the everything-else smarts, but they’re just as happy to flop into their recliner chairs, lean back, order pizza (to the girls’ apartment), and spend their time appreciating Baywatch. Joey stunk in a bunch of ways, but the No. 1 failure was that Joey would never move that far away from his bracelet buddy.
Phoebe and Joey
Maybe the most openly loving of all the friendships here — they get each other in ways no one else quite does, and they stick up for each other in ways no one else will appreciate. (Like Joey being vegetarian during Phoebe’s pregnancy.) Their occasional good-natured flirting only makes things better.
Still, the winner has to be …
Phoebe and Rachel
These two are dynamite, but it’s all solidified in season five’s “The One With the Kips.” Rachel accidentally admits that Phoebe could “lift right out” of the group, but then she confesses to Phoebe that they could start their own, new circle. “Come on, you and me, we’ll start a new group — we’re the best ones.”
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