Saturday, August 1, 2009

Selfish & Dumber

Originally Posted 5-22-09

I’ve noticed an upsetting trend lately. The characters are getting dumber and more selfish. I understand that when a show gets 220+ episodes deep, it’s harder to create interesting storylines to keep the series going. I guess this is the only way to do it. Everyone knows that nothing creates more comedic and dramatic situations better than a set of irrational assholes. I’d start to worry about having to sit through the rest of the series with these people, but we’re close to the end.

Chandler & Monica are looking to adopt. They’ve filled out the appropriate paperwork and they’re going to be visited someone from the adoption agency. Of course the woman who comes has slept with Joey only to never hear from him again. This is a problem because once the woman find out that they’re friends with some guy she slept with, she will block them from the adoption. I think it would be very professional of her to block a child in need of a home from a loving couple looking to adopt just because she put out on the first date without even considering the possibility that the guy she’s giving it up for might not call her back. Of course, once word gets out that these people are friends with a horndog—who, by the way, lives with an infant and is able to provide a nice enough living situation for mom and baby—then Chandler & Monica will get barred from adopting anywhere. Adoption agencies would seemingly rather sell foster children into prostitution then give them up to people like this.

Needless to say, a lot is at stake.

And when Joey tries to enter the apartment, Chandler doesn’t excuse himself to explain the situation to Joey in the hallway. No, it’s generally agreed that it’s better to just lie and say that there’s a crazy person in the hallway.

For those out there hoping to adopt, remember this key rule.
Couple that is friends with an adoption agency worker’s one-night stand – BAD
Couple that live in the building of a crazy person who enters apartments uninvited – GOOD.

Of course, Joey doesn’t get the hint, and he does the first thing that would have come to any sane person's mind.

He climbs up the fire escape and breaks into the apartment wielding a bat.

See? Irrational garbage like this makes this show nearly unwatchable. Okay, it's the last season. I can get through this

Don’t worry. Chandler & Monica find out that a birth mother has picked them. After going on and on about how long they’ve waited for this news, they find out the very next episode.

From what I understand about the adoption process, that seems pretty quick. They only started talking about adopting after getting back from Barbados. So in the course of a few months, they’re already meeting with a birth mother. What’s with all of the “we’ve waiting so long for this” nonsense? Some adoptive parents don't even complete their paperwork in this time.

So, they have to fly to Ohio to meet the birth mother.

You can’t really have people traveling without footage of a plane landing and a pan of some city indistinguishable to most people. By the way, according to Wikipedia, 700 WLW is located in Cincinnati. I imagine the birth mother lives outside of Cincinnati, otherwise, they would have said Cincinnati, but not the part of “outside Cincinnati” that’s actually in Kentucky.

While in “not Cincinnati,” they meet the birth mother played by Anna Faris. There’s a problem, of course. There was a mix-up at the agency, and birth mom thinks she’s getting a doctor and a minister. Great work, agency. Way to mess with the emotions of three people and leave yourself open to a lawsuit. Instead of pointing out the error right away, Chandler & Monica goes along with it. That seems like a good idea. It’s not like they’ll be seeing these people ever again.

Oh right. They’re trying to adopt.

When they finally come clean about the mistake, and birth mom is hesitant.

I like Faris, as an actress. I know her best as playing over-the-top silly characters, my favorite being the ditzy actress in Lost in Translation. Here she really stretches her acting chops by playing the most rational character in the room.

Finally, Chandler gets birth mom alone and expresses, with sincerity, how much they want this.

BIRTH MOM: Oh really, how long have you been waiting for a birth mother?
CHANDLER: We just started filling out paperwork two months ago.
BIRTH MOM: Wow! That is a long time for prospective adoptive couples to get get fully screened. You guys have been waiting for entirely too long, I'll just look past the adoption agencies egregious error and your attempt to cover it up. It would only make sense that the very first meeting turns out successful.

One episode opens with Rachel and Phoebe sitting in a section of Central Perk that they are rarely seen. Very odd, I thought. They would normally be sitting on the regular couch, even if it is the two of them taking up a spot that seats around six. Why would they be sitting there today of all days?

Because if they weren't sitting there, they would never see Chandler talking to another woman and then getting into her car. It turns out that the mystery woman is a Realtor showing Chandler a house in Westchester. This doesn't turn into an episodelong ruse to try to catch Chandler in an affair, as would be expected from this show.

No, what ends up actually happening is everyone finds out that a married couple planning on starting a family has the audacity to move to the suburbs. None of these supposed great friends are happy for them starting a new chapter of their lives. No, they're all pissed because it means that they will be leaving the apartment.

To make matters worse, it turns into a clip show of sorts.

Most clip shows follow the formula of:
-Set up to montage of three scenes
-Three scenes
-Reaction to three scenes just revisited
-Set up to next montage of three scenes

This episode had a solid block of scenes over eight minutes long. I guess we should be happy that they zigged when most would have expected them to zag.

(It seems like only yesterday I was making fun of Joey's belt buckle and pointing out that everyone was drinking Mello Yello, which isn't available in New York.)

The episode ends with them going on and on about how much they want this house, and how long they've wanted a house like this. They've wanted it so badly that their best friends are completely blindsided by the idea, probably because they hadn't mentioned it anyone until this very episode.

Of course, much like adopting a baby, buying a house is a remarkably simple process. Even if a few minutes go by where it looks like things won't work out, the first house you see is always the one you get.

The new phone will go great with the new house. It's about time they got a new one. They've had the last one for about three years, which is incredibly long for them.

There's one episode where Ross is dating someone who is really into fashion, and he's self-conscious about his lack of fashion sense. This is a newly acquired hangup, as he has already dated someone with a keen fashion sense, Rachel, and he's never brought up the need to have to look good.

Either way, Rachel and Phoebe agree to take Ross out for a makeover of sorts.

Phoebe suggests Ross tries on a leather jacket. Why would Phoebe, a strict vegetarian who abhors the cruelty to animals, suggest that someone else to wear a leather jacket? Whatever. Ross tries it on.

He finds out that "Boys Will Be Boys" is written in what appears to be glitter on the back of the jacket. Why would this jacket ever exist? It wouldn't. It would maybe be some sort of custom-made jacket, but I'm doubtful that a store would keep multiples of this on the rack.

This whole jacket thing seems to be a way for the writers to waste a minute and a half on a nonsequitor joke that actually isn't that funny.

It would have been funnier if they had a reason to put Chandler in the jacket. Kind of like how years ago, Phoebe was wearing a That Girl shirt, when really, it should have been Rachel wearing it because her mother is played by Marlo Thomas.

Why would have Chandler have been funnier?

Well, it's funny you ask. In 1987, Matthew Perry was the star of a a sitcom called Second Chances. It centered around a teenager who is visited by his future self who died 28 years into the future. It turns out that he is too bad for heaven and too good for hell, so St. Peter cuts him a Choice C. Future teen is able to go back into time to guide his past self so that maybe he could end up in one place or the other. I think the future character actually lived with with his past self and his family. I remember one episode where the teen went off camping, and the future self shows some other character a scar from when he got shot on that very trip. From what I remember, the teen didn't come home and sarcastically say, "Thanks for the heads-up, dick." That's what I'd do.

What does this have to do with anything? I'm getting to that.

The higher-ups decided that the concept sucked, and save for the occasional 3rd grader, no one was watching the show. So they retooled the show to take away the "future self" story and it became just a crappy show centered around a regular teenager who knew that he had about 28 years to live—although I don't remember if that detail was ever acknowledged. The name of the new retooled show?

Boys Will Be Boys

So why not have Chandler wear the jacket? Same reason why we have Phoebe wear the That Girl shirt.

Forgetting all of that, Rachel gets Ross all of this great stuff, only there's a mix-up with the bags, and Ross ends wearing one of Rachel's shirt to Central Perk, and then to the date.

Not only did Rachel accidentally give Ross one of her bags, but she also accidentally bought a shirt that is way too big for her that is coincidentally the perfect size for Ross. I now question Rachel's ability to shop.

Getting back to irrational selfish behavior and getting back to Thanksgiving. Monica decides that she is too stressed out to do Thanksgiving this year. Instead of everyone being understanding of the feelings of their good friend and all pitch in to do their own version of the dinner, they decide it would be more mature to whine and guilt Monica into cooking Thanksgiving dinner only to completely blow it off.

In another case of Phoebe exhibiting un-Phoebelike behavior, she convinces Rachel to enter Emma into a beauty pageant.

Not just any beauty pageant, the Grand Supreme Little Darling Pageant. I have no children of my own, but I can easily say that I would be very unlikely to enter my child in a beauty pageant. I'm even less likely to have my future children involved in anything that had "Grand Supreme" in its name.

Now that I have seen one of Grand Supreme's Little Darline Pageants, I can say that I am unimpressed with Grand Supreme's work. First of all, they hold their pageants on Thanksgiving, a day when babies should only be shown off to doting relatives. Secondly, they appear to accept entries the day of the contest. To me, that smacks of desperation. They're also setting themselves open for poorly run pageants. What if they are overrun by last minute entries? They will not be prepared and may not be able to convey the optimum level of creepy that is associated with baby beauty pageants.

Since Rachel, being the semigood parent she is, doesn't actually have "pageant clothing" for Emma, they're forced to borrow clothes from Joey's Cabbage Patch Kid. Apparently, he has a pretty large Cabbage Patch Doll and he dresses it up in regular clothing and not the hospital gown-esque clothing I seem to remember coming with the dolls that was open in the back.

Meanwhile, Ross and Joey go to a Rangers game. The empty seat in the middle is for Chandler, who did not go to the game, because he's not a dick.

They all try to make up excuses why they're late, but Monica doesn't buy any of it, so Joey tries to plea with Monica.

How is he able to do this? This makes me believe that they don't have a very good chain lock if he's able to get his head through there. The chain is too long for that to be secure. If you can get your head through there, then you probably have enough room to slip your hand in and undo the chain lock.

Ross and Chandler go to their college reunion. Another golden opportunity for them to finally tell us what school they went to, and they don't mention it. However, we now know what the school's seal looks like and that their school colors are crimson and gold.

They didn't mention going to their 10-year reunion a few years earlier, but it's good that they were able to make it to their 13-year reunion. Not many schools have a 13-year reunion, so they take advantage of the opportunity.

A pre-Grey's Anatomy Ellen Pompeo plays the girl they both liked but had a pact not to go after. What? That sounds like quite a story. We're probably going to need a flashback.

Oh good. We get to revisit Chandler's hair modeled after a band that was big a half-decade prior, Ross's Member's Only jacket, Rachel's old nose and best of all, Monica's fat suit coming complete with as many fat jokes they can squeeze into the allotted time. All of this took place the weekend before holiday break in 1987, Ross's and Chandler's freshman year. So, it's a few weeks after Ross brought Chandler home for Thanksgiving and he met Monica and Rachel.

You would think Chandler and Rachel kissing would have been a story repeated at least once in the 17 years that followed. Even if Rachel did pass out directly after this, Chandler would have mentioned it to someone.

The big news in these episodes is Phoebe's wedding. How big is this wedding?

Here's the happy couple reading a wedding magazine together. So, they're really planning things. Of course, the upcoming wedding barely gets mentioned except for the bachelorette party episode, and groom-to-be Mike doesn't appear in the four episodes between this and the episode of the wedding, but I'm sure Phoebe's wedding is in the forefront of everyone's minds.

The episode of the actual wedding, Phoebe must have mentioned it in passing, and that's when everyone's selfish gland started working overtime. Rachel was given task of bridesmaid, which she handled admirably. Joey was initially supposed to give Phoebe away. True, that's a task usually reserved for the father of the bride. Even though she met her father, and he's still alive, she decides not to bother him with the news. He shouldn't feel miffed; even her natural birth mother who was nice enough to lend out her Hamptons beach house a few years back wasn't told of the wedding. Same goes for her half-brother, his wife, and their triplets, which she carried and birthed.

Back to the friends. Monica is a bridesmaid and a wedding planner. She really gets to showcase the worst side of her obsessive personality by doing things like cutting Phoebe's speech at her rehearsal dinner. Yes, Monica, it's all about you on Phoebe's wedding day.

Chandler and Ross are upset because they don't get to be in the wedding. Mike has the nerve to have his own friends and family be his groomsmen. When one person drops out, Ross and Chandler do whatever it takes to be picked as the replacement groomsman. Again, guys, one of your supposed best friend is getting married.

I guess in all of the excitement of everyone trying to fulfill their selfish desires, no one checked the weather report and saw that New York was going to be hit by a blizzard on the day of the wedding. Really? No one heard anything anywhere? News? Internet? People talking in the street or in Central Perk? Did any of these people go to the store and see that people were in a paniclike state to grab water and enough canned goods to last a couple of days? Blizzards aren't like earthquakes. You can see them coming sometimes days in advanced.

Well, they have the wedding outside of Central Perk instead. They figure it's the perfect place. They normally close the street off for any of their other shenanigans, with the blizzard, the street would be closed anyway.

Gunther is invited to Phoebe's wedding. I guess they couldn't NOT invite him, it's on the street of the coffeehouse where he theoretically spends 98% of his time. He was probably in Central Perk, even though it was closed, (Phoebe was using it as a staging area) just waiting for the time to go home when he saw people congregating outside, he just decided to join the action. It was the first time in a while that he had been referred to or shown other than the background, so it's nice to know that he's still in everybody's good graces.

By the way, it is unclear if Central Perk is closed because Phoebe is using it as a staging area, or if she's using it as a staging area because it's closed. I'm leaning towards the former because this business would bend over backwards for these six people, including closing their business that gets primarily foot traffic on a day when neighbors are cooped up in their homes and need to get out and do something like get coffee some place within walking distance.

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