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How ‘Joey’ Nearly Ruined FRIENDS

The cast of 'Joey' embracing a hug
Credit: NBC

It’s hard to believe that anything surrounding Friends wouldn’t be successful – but how we were wrong. Millions were left distraught when, after 10 years, one of the most popular sitcoms on the planet ended. 2004 felt very bleak for everyone, but hope wasn’t lost (or so we thought). News soon arrived that, although Friends was no more, one of the six characters would continue. Joey Tribbiani was to star in his own show and boy, were our expectations high…

News circulated that ‘Joey’ was hitting our screens, only a few months after the last episode of Friends ended. The show was going to follow Joey as he left New York to pursue his acting career. On that note alone we should have known it wouldn’t work – there’s just something about the show being set in New York that made it so special.

The friends cast all sat smiling
Credit: NBC

Fans of the show will know that Joey didn’t manage to get his own storyline in the end. Ross and Rachel got back together, Chandler and Monica were moving house with their babies, and even Phoebe speaks about trying for a baby with Mike. But Joey doesn’t manage to have his chapter closed. This is where Joey’s character would have been a gateway for the show to work, but we now know this didn’t work.

So why did it fail?

There are many reasons why ‘Joey’ just didn’t work. First of all, the chemistry in Friends just wasn’t there in ‘Joey’. The 6 friends together were something amazing, but taking an individual character out just didn’t feel the same. The storyline also didn’t offer the audience anything they desired. Joey moves to Hollywood, where his sister Gina buys him an apartment and he moves in with her son (his nephew), 20-year old rocket scientist Michael. This felt completely separate from anything we had seen. All of sudden, it reminded us how much we missed Joey and Chandler’s friendship or his hilarious and freaky bond with Phoebe. The special moments Joey had in Friends always involved another character.

Massive Friends fan? Check out your knowledge here…

Joey and chandler wearing party hats
Credit: NBC

‘Joey’ had massive potential to become successful. Frasier managed to span an 11-year series, the same amount of time Cheers appeared on our screens. Shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Breaking Bad have also had pretty successful spinoffs. Young Sheldon and Better Call Saul follow one main character, hugely similar to what ‘Joey’ did. But the difference was that there was a demand for these shows to show us what was to come for an individual character. Although Friends ending felt like a tragedy, it didn’t feel right to watch one person’s journey without knowing what the remaining friends were up to.

How could ‘Joey’ have been better?

The executive producer and director of both ‘Friends’ and ‘Joey’ suggested that the show didn’t work because it didn’t have the same tone. The viewer will have not linked the two shows, therefore they would have struggled to enjoy Joey as the essence of Friends just wasn’t there. Kevin S Bright also mentioned that we all loved Joey’s character in Friends because he was so carefree, but ‘Joey’ changed that completely. Instead, they chose to make him grow up, with Bright saying that was a ‘huge mistake’. Fans expecting to see the same character were actually left disappointed. So if it wasn’t bad enough that we lost 5 friends, the last remaining one had completely changed!

3 people chatting to each other
Credit: NBC

In some ways, Joey could be said to be successful, but it would always fail in comparison to Friends. The last episode of Friends had 52 million people watching. Joey had on average around 7 million people, not too shabby, but not even a scratch on the giant that is Friends. The show was eventually canceled after two seasons and 46 episodes. 8 of those episodes didn’t even make it on to live TV!

What many people don’t know is that a spinoff was always on the cards. Originally, Jennifer Aniston was asked, but she declined. Then The Bings were asked to make a show about Monica and Chandler’s next chapter. Cox and Perry didn’t feel it would be right without the rest of the cast though. Matt Le Blanc admits himself that he received $30 million for Joey, the most ‘successful failure ever’. Many believe Joey should never have been created in the first place. You can’t force something that doesn’t feel natural, especially when you change his character entirely. No wonder there are still so many people who don’t know it exists!

If Joey is your favorite character, you might enjoy this!

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