FRIENDS’ 25th Anniversary: A Closer Look at 'The One Where the Stripper Cries' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FRIENDS’ 25th Anniversary: A Closer Look at ‘The One Where the Stripper Cries’

September 11, 2019 by  

Friends The One Where the Stripper Cries

Photo by NBC – © NBC Universal, Inc. – Image courtesy

[On Thursday, September 22, 1994, NBC debuted the pilot of FRIENDS. The sitcom, about a group of six 20-something friends, went on to become a pop culture touchstone. In honor of the milestone, we’re doing 25 Days of FRIENDS, looking back at the show in big and small ways.]

A number of classic FRIENDS episodes seem to be fairly agreed upon by fans (“TOW the Prom Video,” “TOW No One’s Ready,” the Thanksgiving installments), but one that seems to be consistently underrated is “The One Where the Stripper Cries.”

Admittedly, the title storyline gives me a bit of second-hand embarrassment—all Roy (Danny DeVito) wants to do is strip, but Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica help him realize he may be aging out of it—but it also makes sense. We’ve seen that Phoebe wants to go all-in on traditional celebrations given her unconventional (and often tragic) childhood, and it also makes sense that Monica and Rachel would have tried to go a bit more classy…and that miscommunication led to their mess.

The show had a bit of fun with Ross and Chandler’s long history, especially in the final seasons, but the reunion led to a fun reminder at how terrible they occasionally were to each other in their youth—they were kids who didn’t realize they actually would be in each other’s lives a decade later. Ellen Pompeo was delightful in a pre-GREY’S role as a former colleague. (And Chandler’s “WHAT DID I MARRY INTO?” is still perfect all of these years later.)

But the real gem of the episode is Joey’s turn on PYRAMID. How did anyone ever let him get to air? Who knows. (I don’t know what the real vetting is like for celebrity contestants; given how often he messed up at DAYS OF OUR LIVES, I could buy someone suggested his being on the show as revenge/a joke.) But it’s so ridiculous that it circles around to being one of the things that makes me laugh out loud every time I watch the episode. Part of it is Matt LeBlanc’s commitment to making the scene work; he goes all-in on Joey’s answers. If you didn’t believe Joey believed paper, snow, or a ghost could be something found in his fridge, it would just seem like stupidity for a cheap joke. But Joey…bless his heart. He wants to win and is just saying whatever comes to his mind.

Joey gets a bit of redemption in the Winner’s Circle, but even his final flame out make sense; it’s almost perfectly on-brand for him.

The final season, which I do enjoy, is very much an episode that is setting up the group’s end game; so much of it is serious/has more emotional weight, especially as Monica and Chandler inched towards becoming parents. While this does touch on one of the bigger arcs (Phoebe’s wedding), for the most part, this is just an enjoyable light episode. And it’s certainly changed the way I’ve looked at PYRAMID.


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