Entertainment

64 Things That Happened In The First Season Of “Friends” That Would Never Happen Today

So much mail. So few cellphones.

1. In Episode 1, “The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate,” we meet all the Friends for the first time — and Rachel talks to her dad on Monica’s massive cordless phone.

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On, of course, the land line.

2. In Episode 3, “The One With the Thumb,” Phoebe discovers that her bank mistakenly credited her with $500 — because she reads her monthly statement that came in the mail.

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3. After she tells her bank about the mistake, they credit her another $500. And send her a football phone.

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You know, to use on her land line.

4. Chandler has started smoking again, which he freely does in Central Perk.

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5. He does it less freely at work, but still manages.

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6. In Episode 4, “The One With George Stephanopoulos,” during a sleepover with Phoebe, Monica is thrilled that they get George Stephanopoulos’ pizza delivered to them by accident…

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… but since Phoebe and Rachel are not Clinton White House obsessives, they have no idea who George Stephanopoulos is.

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Rachel: “Who’s George Snuffleupagus?”
Phoebe: “That’s Big Bird’s friend.”

Today, let’s assume they — or at least Rachel — would be avid Good Morning America viewers, and would love George.

7. In Episode 6, “The One With the Butt,” Joey celebrates getting a part as Al Pacino’s butt double in a movie by invoking Pacino’s performance in And Justice for All.

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Which the friends knew then, but no one would know now.

(Here’s the scene he invokes, for the millions who don’t remember And Justice for All, or have never heard of it.)

Joey also quotes Scarface, which has stood the test of time.

8. During Episode 7, “The One With the Blackout,” Chandler is stuck in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre. And all of those deposit slips and envelopes!

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9. Jill Goodacre’s cellphone (Friends’ first) works during the blackout.

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Anyone who lived through the Northeast blackout of 2003 will tell you this is a damn lie.

10. In Episode 8, “The One Where Nana Dies Twice,” Joey watches a Giants-Cowboys game on a portable TV at the funeral.

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11. In Episode 9, “The One Where Underdog Gets Away,” the first Friends Thanksgiving episode, Joey is disinvited from his family celebration because he models for a “VD” awareness campaign, and they think he’s diseased.

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(“Sexually transmitted infection” has replaced “venereal disease” in the world of public health since the late 90’s.)

12. Rachel doesn’t have enough money to fly to Vail to go skiing with her family — shoop, shoop — until the friends pitch in to help her. She waves her paper ticket around triumphantly.

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(They get locked out after going up to the roof to see the escaped Underdog float from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since Rachel’s ticket is inside, she misses her flight.)

13. Today, Ross would be kicked out of the scientific community for adopting an exotic animal as a pet. In 1994: meet Marcel!

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This is Episode 10, “The One With the Monkey.”

14. Monica throws a New Year’s Eve party, and Janice, Chandler’s date, brings this camera.

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15. And she needs Ross to take a picture of her and Chandler together.

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In 2016, Janice would be the one person in America unashamed to use a selfie stick.

16. This is what they’re watching to count down to 1995.

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RIP Dick Clark, 1929-2012.

(Bonus fact unrelated to this post: Episode 11, “The One With Mrs. Bing,” opens with Phoebe and Monica crossing the street — and Joey’s poster is pasted onto the building behind them!)

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17. Phoebe and Monica go to a newsstand, because Phoebe wants to check the previous day’s Daily News — “to see if my horoscope was right.”

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18. Chandler’s mom, the famous romance novelist, goes on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.

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19. Mrs. Bing uses a restaurant payphone to call her hotel to get her messages.

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20. One equipped with a stack of phonebooks.

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21. In Episode 12, “The One With the Dozen Lasagnas,” the gang bursts out into an impromptu version of the theme song from the original Odd Couple TV show.

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(Which would be canonical to statistically zero twentysomethings now. But it’s funny that Matthew Perry went on to star in the rebooted version.)

22. After Phoebe tells Rachel that Paolo made a pass at her, we get a good look at their apartment’s CD tower.

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23. In Episode 13, “The One With the Boobies,” Phoebe’s new therapist boyfriend Roger won’t stop analyzing everyone — Rachel cries to him about traumatic memories of Weebles.

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“You’re right! You’re right! It wasn’t just the Weebles, but it was the Weeble Play Palace. And the Weebles Cruise Ship. Which had this little life boat for the Weebles to wobble in.”

(Weebles were very popular in the 70’s.)

24. In Episode 14, “The One With the Candy Hearts,” it’s time for Valentine’s Day. Joey’s date sets Chandler up on a blind date — and in the pre-Facebook/Google world, that date turns out to be Janice.

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25. During a Valentine’s Day dinner at romantic Benihana, Susan’s beeper goes off, and she has to leave Carol by herself.

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They’re coincidentally seated with Ross and his date, who is ignored as soon as he sees Carol.

26. Joey starts dating Ursula, Phoebe’s estranged twin, and says he’s going to take her to Ice Capades.

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Chander: “Wow, this is serious. I’ve never known you to pay money for any kind of capade.”

(The Ice Capades was an entertainment show — on ice! — where you could see former Olympians perform. They say it was as romantic as a date at Benihana. But here’s a weird fact: In 1995, the year this episode aired, Dorothy Hamill, a former Olympic gold-medal winner, sold Ice Capades to Pat Robertson, the televangelist. In 1996, it went out of business. )

27. In Episode 15, “The One With the Stoned Guy,” Monica comes home after a meeting with a potential employer, and says, “I love my life, I love my life!” and Phoebe thinks it’s a Brian’s Song reference.

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P.S. In case you don’t know what Brian’s Song is, here.

28. Episode 16, “The One With the Two Parts: Part 1,” begins with Ross complaining about Marcel being “out of control” — because he keeps erasing the messages on Ross’ answering machine.

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29. Marcel steals Monica and Rachel’s remote control, and their TV gets stuck on Spanish-language audio.

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Ross can’t fix it, so they watch Laverne y Shirley.

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30. In “The One With the Two Parts: Part 2,” Rachel sprains her ankle and doesn’t really know what insurance is.

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31. Ross goes to lunch with his dad, who speaks of sundried tomatoes as if they are a great novelty.

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“Five years ago, if somebody had said to me, ‘Here’s a tomato that looks like a prune,’ I’d have said, ‘Get out of my office!’”

32. In “The One With All the Poker,” the friends whistle the theme song to Hogan’s Heroes

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33. … as they help Rachel stuff her printed-out résumé into dozens of envelopes in her attempt to get a new job.

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Ross discovers a typo. Rachel: “Ohhhh, do you think it’s on all of them?” Joey: “Oh, no, I’m sure the Xerox machine caught a few.”

34. She gets all of her rejection letters by mail too.

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35. When taunting Ross about still loving Rachel, Chandler makes a reference to the TV show What’s Happening!!

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Chandler: “Could you want her more?”
Ross: “Who?”
Chandler: “Dee, the sarcastic sister from What’s Happening!!.”

Here is Dee, the sarcastic sister from What’s Happening!!, an ABC sitcom about black teenagers that ran from 1976 to 1979.

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(Here’s a little known fact: The official title of What’s Happening!! had two exclamation points. That fact is especially unknown to those who have never heard of What’s Happening!!.)

36. Marcel has become a menace with Ross’ CD player.

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Ross screams at him for repeatedly putting on the CD of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

37. Rachel finds out from a letter in the mail that she’s gotten an interview at Saks Fifth Avenue.

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Monica: “Oh, Rachel!”
Phoebe: “It’s like the mothership is calling you home!”

38. Rachel won’t let Joey use the phone to order pizza — because what if the woman from Saks calls?

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39. During a game of Pictionary, Chandler’s guesses for Monica’s drawing are: “Airport! Airport ‘75! Airport ‘77! Airport ‘79!”

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Airport came out in 1970, and was a huge blockbuster. It’s credited with ushering in the era of the ’70s disaster genre, which later included The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and — the other Airport movies!

(Monica’s drawing is actually meant to be Bye Bye Birdie.)

40. In “The One Where the Monkey Gets Away,” Joey, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe go see a movie that the guys hate. Joey mixes up “Hugh Grant” with “Lou Grant.”

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Hugh Grant

Columbia Pictures

Circa 1995’s Sense and Sensibility.

Lou Grant

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Circa 1977’s Lou Grant. (He was also Mary’s boss on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.)

41. In Episode 20, “The One With the Evil Orthodontist,” Chandler and Joey fight about whether they would rather be Mr. Peanut or Mister Salty.

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Today, Mister Salty no longer exists. Which is sad, because as Joey says, “Mister Salty is a sailor, all right? He’s gotta be like the toughest snack there is.”

(At the end of the episode, the conversation continues, and Phoebe says of Mr. Peanut, “Do you know he’s gay?”)

42. Chandler is waiting for a woman he really likes to call him back. Phoebe teaches him an answering machine trick.

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“You can call her machine, and if she has a lot of beeps, then she probably didn’t get her messages yet.”

43. In “The One With the Fake Monica,” everyone finds it shocking that someone could have ever stolen Monica’s credit card number.

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Joey, as they pore over her statements: “How could someone get ahold of your credit card number?” Monica: “I have no idea!”

44. Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe befriend the woman who stole Monica’s credit card — because she’s so much more fun than Monica.

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She suggests that they go to an open audition for Cats and sing “Memory” — “and make complete fools of ourselves.” (With Cats returning to Broadway soon, this joke could make a comeback.)

45. Marcel has started humping everything — because he’s an animal — and finally Ross realizes he needs to put him in a zoo. He applies, but unfortunately Marcel gets letters of rejection in the mail….

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46. … which Marcel reacts to by humping a chair, as Phoebe notes drolly while playing her Game Boy.

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47. Marcel eventually gets into the San Diego Zoo. And everyone can go right up to the airport gate to see him off.

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(This fact about how airports used to be will come up again, obviously.)

48. In Episode 22, “The One With the Ick Factor,” Phoebe goes through the Help Wanted classifieds, looking for work.

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49. And Ross has a new beeper for when Carol goes into labor.

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Its number: 55JIMBO. Which ends up being too close to “55JUMBO,” an escort.

50. Monica has been lying to her new boyfriend, Ethan, about her age, because she thinks he’s a senior in college. Then, after they have sex, she finds out he’s a senior — in high school.

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She screams, “Oh god, I just had sex with someone who wasn’t alive during the Bicentennial!” And then: “I’m Joan Collins!”

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To which he — and many other people reading this — replies: “Who?”

51. Monica comes home from a run and Rachel tries to tell her that Ethan keeps calling, but Monica can’t hear over the sound of her Walkman.

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52. Rachel seems to be having a sex dream about Ross, who wakes her up. As they’re mayyyyyyyybbbbbbeeee about to kiss, Carol beeps him 911 — she’s in labor!

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53. In Episode 23, “The One With the Birth,” while everyone is at the hospital awaiting Carol’s arrival. Joey watches the spring 1995 Knicks in the waiting room. Starring Patrick Ewing!

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A pregnant Celtics fan (played by Leah Remini) starts to taunt Joey. “Look at your man Ewing! He couldn’t hit water if he was standing on a boat,” she says, insulting No. 33, Patrick Ewing (who was the Knicks’ center from 1985-2000).

54. Ross and Susan are fighting so much that Carol kicks them out of the delivery room. Phoebe doesn’t want them screaming at each other, so she pushes them into a closet — and the door locks behind them.

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Three adults, zero phones — all they can do is yell.

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55. Monica calls her and Ross’ mom from a payphone to tell her what’s happening.

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“Ross is great. He’s in a whole other place!”

56. Ross is jealous that Susan will get to go home with Carol and the baby. Susan points out that she has no official standing at all, nor is there any option for one.

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Susan: “You get to be the baby’s father! And who am I? There’s Father’s Day, there’s Mother’s Day. There’s no Lesbian Lover Day!”
Ross: “Every day is Lesbian Lover Day!”

(Obviously, things have changed.)

57. At the beginning of the final episode of the season, “The One Where Rachel Finds Out,” everybody sits around Central Perk looking at printed-out pictures of little Ben.

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58. Ross has to go to China for the museum for a week —where he’ll be unreachable. He gives Monica a printed-out copy of his itinerary…

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59. … and a picture of him so Ben doesn’t forget who he is.

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“Hi, Ben. I am your father.”

60. Ross has left a thoughtful, loving birthday present for Rachel, which causes Chandler to mistakenly blurt out that Ross is in love with her. Rachel freaks out, and decides she needs to find Ross. Luckily, they can consult the printed out itinerary!

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And even though his flight leaves in 45 minutes, Rachel feels sure she can catch him.

61. At the airport, Ross practices his language skills with the use of his Walkman.

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(Note cellphone guy on the left: Some people did have them in 1995, just not our friends yet.)

62. Rachel gets right up to the gate — Ross can’t hear her because of the Walkman — before she’s finally stopped because of “federal regulations!”

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(The flight attendant will give Ross a message, though: “She said that she loved the present and she’ll see you when you get back.” Unfortunately, she tells the wrong man.)

63. Rachel has decided not to pursue Ross, and has a date with Carl — who goes on rant about Ed Begley Jr.

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“I’m just saying, if I see one more picture of Ed Begley Jr. in that stupid electric car, I’m gonna shoot myself!”

Ed Begley Jr. is an actor and committed environmentalist — so committed that poor Carl must have suffered for years.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Here he is on the Tonight Show in 2001 showing the audience how to see during a program taped with no lights to save energy. He also appeared in the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? So fuck you, Carl!

64. After envisioning herself with Ross during her disastrous date, Rachel rushes to the airport to greet him at the gate…

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… but tragically, Ross has met Julie during his week-long trip.

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Which poor Rachel does not know in this final shot of Friends, Season 1.

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She will soon find out. And with Madonna’s “Take a Bow” playing throughout this scene, you know it’s gonna be sad!

But for now, as Madonna says, “The show is over, say goodbye.”

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