See?? I’m trying to get all caught up.
While Season Two was a decent improvement from Season One, Season Three? Oh, Season Three showed its older self how it’s done. With the popularity Friends had at that point, they had a bigger budget (as evidenced by better sets, more expensive wardrobes, famous guest stars, etc.), but even when they were able to go to Vegas or London or have Ralph Lauren just appear in a single scene, nothing could compare to how well the show shone when it was focusing on the Six.
“The One Where No One’s Ready” is a perfect example of this, and it is definitely my favorite episode from Season Three. It wasn’t necessarily a critical darling – professional critics called it “derivative” of Seinfeld, which may or may not be true, as I never really watched that show – but I find it to be one of the most rewatchable episodes of the entire series. Everyone plays off everyone so well, and their little nitpicky fights (like the childish one between Joey and Chandler) just makes it seem like they really are a family.
It isn’t the central Ross and Rachel plot that I care about (I do like that he was willing to drink fat from Monica’s fridge, though), which shouldn’t really come as a surprise; Monica’s predicament is far more interesting to me. We’ve all been in that emotional part of the post-breakup situation, and watching her freak out at the prospect of him even going on a single date with someone else just seems so real.
After my college boyfriend and I broke up, I saw him hanging out with a girl at a little flea market outside the student center on campus, and my heart just plummeted. They’d kind of been in a relationship with her before (it didn’t end well), and I had suspected he had cheated on me with her near the last few months of ours, although I had no proof. So I did what any self-respecting girl would do: I went back to my dorm, grabbed contraband Captain Morgan’s, and filled a red Solo cup (splashed a bit of Coke to make it at least look like a soda), then proceeded to wander around campus in a depressed haze. As luck would have it, I was about three-quarters of the way through my drink when I ran into both of them again, and it was about as awkward as changing your ex-boyfriend’s outgoing voicemail message to be something about how you might be starting your period. In that moment, I was Monica.
The only real downside to this episode is Phoebe’s arc. It’s like they had something for everyone else to do that had at least some consequence – Ross and Rachel’s spat/reconciliation, Chandler and Joey’s fight over chair dominance, and Monica’s post-Richard blues – but Phoebe? Oh, she’s just trying to figure out a solution to Joey getting hummus on her dress. A true dilemma, if there ever was one.
I just have such a soft spot for bottle episodes. There’s a lot of character development that always seems to happen in them, and I feel like the writers usually do an excellent job on them. They can’t rely on cheap tricks like inviting Jean-Claude Van Damme to cheese for the camera or shuttling them off to some exotic locale, so they look to the talent, the people that made the show as popular as it was, and just let them shine.
Runners Up: “The One with All the Football” and “The One with the Jam”