So no one told you life was gonna be this way, you’re self-isolating and the flour’s gone away!
I’ve been home from work for over 8 weeks now — has it really been that long? I still haven’t baked sourdough. Weeks seem to blur, and I tried to use this opportunity to write more… and watch more. But Netflix only has so many shows, and so I turned to my trusted old pal: Friends. I have been watching Friends since I was a little girl, and whenever I was sick at home I would binge a season. Self-isolating kind of feels like being home ill for an extended period, and so Friends was the perfect company for my loneliness and fear.
But it got me thinking… what if the six of them were isolating at home? What kind of storylines would that rustle up? I wondered how each character would handle the stress and change of COVID-19, and what familiar activities they’d get up to.
And so, as the credits begin to roll and the edgy voices of The Rembrandts fill your TV, I introduce you to…
Before we get started, a quick layout note. So all Friends episodes aim to contain three storylines, an A,B and C arch.
Here are some examples:
The One Where Monica and Richard Are Just Friends
A: Monica runs into Richard and they try to be friends with benefits.
B: Joey and Rachel swap their favourite books.
C: Phoebe is dating a guy who has a little “wardrobe malfunction” (involves Ross and Chandler).
The One with Ross’s Sandwich
A: Joey keeps having to cover Chandler and Monica’s affair and grows tired of this.
B: Ross becomes angry when someone at work eats his sandwich.
C: Rachel and Phoebe enrol in a literature class.
Characters often feature in the other storylines, but there are three purposes to an episode and stories that get taken from start to finish. Impressive, given that they had a tight 20 minute slot to work with.
So here are our A,B and C storylines for The One with COVID-19!
A: Rachel and Monica’s Prank War
We’re going to place this episode in the time where Rachel lived with Monica and Joey lived with Chandler, as those were my fondest episodes. However, we will acknowledge 2020 in this episode to spice it up a bit and ensure relatability.
So Rachel and Monica are self-isolating together in the apartment. It starts off well enough, Monica is baking plenty of banana bread and sourdough, a similar sight to The One with the Jam.
Rachel reads an article about how someone earns a living through their Instagram following and is determined to do the same and quit her job.
She decides to use this time to develop her Instagram presence, hoping to become an Influencer as well.
However the idyllic situation begins to sour as the ladies step on each other’s toes. Rachel insists on rearranging furniture for her photoshoots, much to Monica’s chagrin, and berates Monica for walking past her frame during her attempted fitness videos or using her mixer during recording times.
Things reach a peak when Rachel decides to prank Monica on Instagram Live, by swapping the salt and sugar and filming Monica’s reaction at tasting her freshly baked cookies (Grandma Nestle Toll House’s recipe of course). The video is a hit, gaining hundreds of followers for Rachel, who is now drunk on power and pranks Monica again by waking her up in the night by yelling “Fire!” and watching her scramble out of the apartment without trousers or shoes.
Monica takes revenge by sharing a photo on Rachel’s account of her in the morning, a truly messy “Woke up like this”. Rachel is humiliated, particularly when she realises she has become a trending meme (which Chandler admits to Joey he started). But then she begins to be celebrated for sharing her true appearance, and being #real, which she is very proud of.
The girls make peace when Rachel shares a post about her best friend, Monica, and how grateful she is to have her during this time. All is well, until Monica remembers at the end that she had added hair dye to Rachel’s shampoo as another prank, and forgot to remove it, listening to the sound of Rachel singing in the shower…
B: Joey Thinks He Has Corona
Chandler wakes up to find Joey returning home from a one night stand. He berates Joey for not taking isolation seriously, and explains COVID-19 and the symptoms to Joey in great detail. Joey still tries to laugh off the situation, but when he next borrows milk from Monica he coughs. Rachel is passing by and makes a joke that maybe he has Corona.
Joey is terrified, and begins to assume that every small thing reflects a symptom of COVID-19.
He wraps up in as many of Chandler’s sweater vests as he can find, and then claims his warmth and sweating is another symptom.
Chandler is initially relieved, as this ensures Joey stays home, so he goes along with it. But Joey begins to act more and more dramatic about his symptoms, insisting he cannot do anything but watch TV and eat food. Joey is also struggling with a week without sex, the longest he’s gone since he became sexually active, and cannot help but make sexual innuendos to all of his friends.
Finally Chandler makes up another symptom of COVID-19, and insists to Joey that without a rash across your butt, you cannot have Corona. Joey is relieved, eager to display his clear butt to Chandler, until he is contacted by his one night stand, who informs him that she is hospitalised with COVID-19. At that moment, Chandler begins to cough, and the two of them look at each other alarmed.
C: Ross becomes Mindful
Phoebe’s Grandmother is in the risk group, so Phoebe asks to stay at Ross’ for self-isolation. She notices how stressed Ross is about everything, calling Carol and Susan every hour to check up on Ben, and insisting they check his temperature each time and yelling at them for taking him for a walk outside.
Phoebe insists Ross try meditation with her to calm down. At first, we hear his narration ridiculing the experience as she talks.
But then something changes, and there is a soundtrack of bird sounds and gongs, as Ross ‘finds his zen’.
From that point, Phoebe notices Ross becomes more and more obsessed with mindfulness. He begins dressing in baggy pants and tank tops, insists on preparing raw vegan meals for them, and is constantly meditating around the apartment, lying on the floor or doing the lotus position until his legs go numb. He tells her how pleased he is that they are “going on this journey together”.
When Phoebe thinks Ross is asleep, she begins to munch on her hidden stash of snacks and watch a gory horror film. Ross enters to “get another glass of kombucha” and finds Phoebe, with Cheeto stained cheeks, and is horrified. He goes back to his room to meditate over this experience, but his calm narration is interrupted by his grumbling stomach. Eventually he gives in and joins Phoebe to stuff his face.
Following the three pairs of Friends as they navigate through familiar Corona territory would be a real relief during this time, and make for some hilarious scenes! We’ll have to settle for rewatching old episodes, but at least now we can picture exactly how it would go.
I hope you’re isolating with your lobster, or at least the Chandler to your Joey, and surviving this break.
If it ever gets too hard, just do a Ross and eat fajitas, drink margaritas and insist I’M FIIIIIIIINE. That is before you take off your trousers to dance to the entire Chicago soundtrack — I certainly recommend.
Do you have any other ideas for The One with COVID 19? Let me know in the comments, or please share your favourite Friends quote! You can also check out how Friends would be different in 2020.