So breaking the habit, if not of a lifetime, then certainly a sizeable and deliberate chunk of one, I actually watched a bit of Friends earlier on.
It was alright for a while. But then about the fifth time the audience laughed because Phoebe Said A Thing, it all got a bit too much…
See, I always felt some of the gag-writing in Friends was pretty reasonable. But then inevitably when it comes around to being time to Learn That What’s Important In Life Is The People Around Us That We’re Closest To (and we’ll be right back after these messages…) it exposes its manipulative centre, and right at the heart of it all we have the Myth of Phoebe.
You know – Good Ol’ Pheebs. Aw, look at her, she’s so quirky and adorable. Is she bollocks. She’s vain, egocentric and spiteful, and – here’s the thing – she exists solely to flatter and vindicate your sense of entitlement. She’s the one who makes it okay for you to be a dick, because it’s such a matter of warm, cosy certainty that all your friends will continue to love you for your many charming and wonderful qualities that you won’t have to go to the bother of actually having any. What do you mean, ‘you take it she used to be my favourite character’? Well screw you too.
So anyway, there we have Phoebe Buffay, in all her phonetically-rendered-so-people-won’t-pronounce-it-to-rhyme-with-‘stuff-it’ glory, sailing through the show alternating between self-centred oblivion and Gomer Pyle-level schlock sentimentality. And it falls to us to salute that same myth of quirky adorableness every time it gets run up the flagpole, or else run the risk of being… THE COMPLAINER. And, well, salute it I did. For a while. After all, nobody wants to be that guy all the time. But twenty-one years later (gee, thanks a ton for that nut-punch, Channel Five) I don’t see the point any more.
Then again, maybe I was just bummed out by being reminded of how a certain negligible cock-hole I once knew used to base his entire personality down to every last mannerism on Joey Tribbiani. So there’s that.