So I Have Beef With ‘Joey’

Over the past semester, I rewatched FRIENDS. Four years ago I watched it all for the first time and I thought it was time for another go. It’s such a classic show and it was a perfect destresser. Plus, since I’ve seen it already, I wasn’t sucked into the binge hole.

When I finished my rewatch (and stopped crying, duh), I decided to watch Joey, the spinoff. I didn’t know much about it other than the fact that aired on NBC and it wasn’t the best, but I figured I’d give it a shot. Admittedly, Joey is my least favourite of the FRIENDS group, but I still love him and thought the premise of his show seemed alright. After all the changes that took place at the end of FRIENDS, it makes sense that Joey would move to LA for his acting career.

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But Joey disappointed me. From only a few episodes, I knew the show lacked a lot and I was going to stop watching…but I was bored and so I watched it all (that binge hole, y’all). I also wasn’t going to write about it. I mean, the show is over a decade old and I’m sure no one cares anymore, but as I kept watching, my disappointment just turned into anger and I needed to rant. So here we go.

First of all, I know Joey is not FRIENDS. I know they’re separate and should not be compared too much, but when you’ve got a spinoff of such an iconic and heartfelt show, I do have some expectations. With FRIENDS, I genuinely love every character and found them all so dynamic and funny. With Joey, I could not care less for anyone, except maybe Joey himself. It’s not that I hated them, but going from Ross and Chandler to Michael is such a downgrade. Gina and Bobby were annoying and Alex was kind of boring. I didn’t feel the connections between any of them, which was especially really unfortunate when they tried to put Alex and Joey in a relationship. Ross/Rachel and Monica/Chandler were two pure, heartfelt relationships that people rooted for, and I hardly cared for Joey/Alex at all.

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My second issue with Joey was that the ties to FRIENDS were awful. And by awful I mean barely there. I wonder if it was a licensing thing? If you didn’t know Joey was from FRIENDS and had ten years of history, you wouldn’t be able to tell. I mean, aside from one mention of Chandler in the pilot and a few mentions of Days Of Our Lives here and there, there was nothing. Even little things, like the fact that Joey and Gina have six other sisters wasn’t really talked about until 1×19 when another sister came to visit, and even then there were plot holes. There was one instance when Joey referred to Rachel and Ross, but not by name and it was blink-and-you-miss-it brief. It really made me sad that Joey went from spending every day with his best friends for over a decade to literally not mentioning them or thinking about them or any part of his old life.

And apparently, FRIENDS must have exhausted literally every actor/actress on the planet because there was not one but two main repeat people on Joey (and, according to Wikipedia, a few other minor repeats), and that bugged me a lot more than it should. I think it’s because it felt like just another way FRIENDS canon was ignored. But seriously, how hard is it to not cast the same people in leading roles? Like, I know there’s been some repeat people in the MCU, but they’re usually not too noticeable.

I think Joey had potential, but it was wasted. They had a chance to take this lovable character and put him in new situations, but it was just the same stuff over and over but worse. Poorer comedy, less likable characters, little plot progression. Like, in the pilot, Michael was desperate to move out from his mother’s place, so I was expecting to see Joey and Michel struggle with adult life without a mom…or a Monica, but Gina was literally at Joey’s house all the time and it just wasn’t enjoyable. Even when the guys went away for a weekend, she was there.

And look, I didn’t hate the show. Joey’s characterization was still great. He still was likable and funny and his dialogue was still spot-on. But he alone couldn’t carry a show, never mind a spinoff of probably one of the best shows ever.

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FRIENDS is loved by so many, and to see its legacy tarnished and practically erased really saddened me. I kind of regret watching Joey, which says a lot, because I love TV and FRIENDS. I guess I’ve never really watched a proper spinoff before, and I think this experience will make me think carefully before I ever do again.

Have any of you watched Joey? What are your thoughts on it? Are my complaints with it logical? Has this post just brought back bad memories?

That’s all for now!

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4 thoughts on “So I Have Beef With ‘Joey’

  1. The biggest goal with Joey at the time was to separate it from Friends. Which, as you point out, was a terrible call. But Friends had been so dominant for so long that the network really wanted to establish something new with Joey like they did with Frasier after Cheers (and Frasier, by the way, is one of the best shows ever on television, though it’s definitely a spinoff.) But none of the other actors from Friends wanted to be on the show. In fact, Jennifer Aniston was saying at the time that she did not want to be remembered for Friends.

    And Joey got kind of sad in the last couple of years of Friends, and there wasn’t really anywhere to take him.

    To me, it made no sense that he would leave NY. He was so close to his family and he would be the type to be a fun uncle to his friends’ kids.

    In short, I agree with you. And I was disappointed at the time. You can’t really make a show that’s “not” something else. You need to know what it *is*. And they didn’t.

    • You’re right. They really didn’t know what they have. I think any spinoff of the friends wouldn’t have worked. Would a Pheobe spinoff have been better? Or a Rachel one? I don’t think so. They should have just left things alone.
      And too bad for Jennifer Aniston. Despite being in many, many movies since, she will always be remembered for FRIENDS. Always.

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