The Emotional journey – Analysis: FRIENDS – The One with the Joke

An episode of Sitcom has several stories intertwined. When one plot is set up, the next one is introduced before going to the next step for the first plot. In this one, there are 3 plots. Each one focuses on one character that wants something. I’ve separate the beats by plot. They may be intertwined but they are always in parallel following the high-level structure.

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STEPCHANDLER: The JokeJOEY: Money problemMonica: Imaginary date
SETUP – Who, What, Where. What we know from before that has led us here, now.Ross wrote a Joke published in PlayboyJoey doesn’t have any moneyThe girls are bonding over Playboy pictures and Rachel say that she would date the one they are looking at
WANT – What do we want? Why are we here, now?Chandler wants the credit for the jokeJoey doesn’t want Chandler’s moneyMonica wants her friends to pick her as an imaginary date. Rachel doesn’t pick a friend, Monica either, Phoebe answers Rachel
DRIVE – You are moving forward because you want to…Chandler’s motivation is now to convince Joey that the Joke is his.Joey motivation is now to find ways to handle his money problem by himself.Phoebe’s answer creates Monica’s motivation to be the one that should be chosen for the imaginary date.
ENGAGE – Moving forward in the world, going after what we want.The 3 friends spent some regular time together but Joey does not get the joke. Chandler still wants the credit for the joke.

OBSTACLE – What is between us and what we wantThe obstacle is that Ross, does not let go.After Chandler and Ross leave in a hurry, Joey is left with the bill to pay.
He refused Chandler’s money and now he has to deal with the consequence of not having money, his obstacle.

END OF ACT I REVEALRoss reveals that he got paid for the joke and will tell the bank teller he is a published author.Joey reveals that he can’t pay for the coffee bill because he doesn’t have money.

DRIVE – You are moving forward because you want to…Chandler decides to follow Ross and tell the bank teller he is the real author of the joke.Gunther offers a job to Joey so that he can have money.Monica is not OK with Phoebe picking Rachel over her.
PLAN – We execute on what we decided to do, pushing through obstaclesChandler decides to keep a journal with the date and time of all his jokes. (not the right way to deal with the problem)Joey is dealing with his money problem by coming to watch TV at Chandler’s place. (not the right way to deal with the problem)Monica confronts Phoebe about her picking Rachel for her imaginary date. (not the right way to deal with the problem)
MID POINT – Twist, turn. Stakes raised

Joey accepted the job and works as a waiter.Phoebe pissed off Rachel too when she says that Monica is high maintenance and Rachel is a push-over. The problem is now bigger. Raising the stakes.
CHALLENGE – Biggest challenge so far.Chandler is keeping his joke’s journal. This doesn’t seem to be sustainable.Joey found a solution to his money problem but is facing the humiliation to be his friends’ waiter. This is a new problem.Monica and Rachel confronts Phoebe by telling her that she is flaky.
SUCCESS – Short moment of success and encouragement, brief tension relief.When Ross shows the joke to Gunther, Gunther automatically credits Chandler for the joke.
Ross is not happy about it and not letting go.

This doesn’t work, phoebe accepts it and even say that’s why she called them high maintenance and push-over.
It’s a false success.
BREAK REVEALChandler and Ross can’t get over the joke problem.Joey’s money problem might be over, he just got an audition!

But Joey can’t leave, he has to stay for the coffee shop.

DRIVE – You are moving forward because you want to…They decide to have Monica decide who is the real author of the joke.Joey decided to close the coffee shop to go to the audition. He prioritizes poorly because of his feelings towards the waiter’s job.
Motivation unchanged only reinforced
BREAK – Setback, criticism, crisis, defeat… things are badChandler and Ross don’t act very nicely and are being criticized for their behavior by MonicaJoey failed his audition and lost his job at the coffee shop.


Joey losing his job makes Rachel want to defend him

DRIVE – You know know what to do! You are moving forward because you want to…Chandler and Joey are trying to convince Monica who is the author of the Joke.Rachel wants to go talk to Gunther about Joey’s job.Monica sends Chandler to defend her as a non-“high maintenance” person.
ASSAULT – Confrontation on the way towards the final obstacleBoth Chandler and Ross are using less than fair methods.Rachel has a good argument for it that she will tell Gunther. He shouldn’t have left him in charge on his second day for personal errands.Chandler is doing Monica’s false speech about how great she is.
THEMATIC REVEAL – Thematic revelationMonica tells them that the joke is not funny and offensive to women, monkeys and doctors. They realize that their joke sucksRachel thinks she shouldn’t say anything to Gunther but quickly realize that yes, she should!Chandler tells Monica that she is passionate and that he like to “maintaining” her.
CLASH – Final battle against the last obstacle

Rachel talks to Gunther about Joey’s job.Monica says it’s ok that Phoebe chooses Rachel because she has the best boyfriend.
RESOLUTION – We reached our goal, or we didn’t

Rachel proves that she’s not a push-over when she wants.
Joey gets its job back.
Which makes Phoebe attracted to Monica.
Monica wins in all front.
DRIVE – You are moving forward because you want to…

NEW STATE – New status quo. We won, we lost, things are different now.Neither of them wants to be credited for the joke anymore.

Ross or Chandler did not evolve, their perception of the joke changed.
Rachel gives away her seat for Phoebe. She is actually a push-over. Rachel’s character did not evolve.
We learn that Rachel would pick Monica and Monica would pick Rachel but they wouldn’t tell Phoebe that.

Rachel asks the boys who they would pick as a date. Joey and ross don’t answer and Chandler answer Joey. Open a new thread as a final button for the episode.