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Throwback Thursday - Friends - The One Where No One's Ready

Throwback Thursday, a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from over the years.

In Friends’ first season, Monica opines that Chandler’s comparison of his hesitancy to fire an employee to their failure to take down the Christmas lights by mid-February is “the world’s thinnest argument.”

Fast-forward a year and a half to “The One Where No One’s Ready”, and he puts that suggestion to the test by hiding Joey’s underwear in retaliation for his roommate not allowing him to sit in a particular chair. It is completely ridiculous and yet the gags are both endless and wonderful, culminating in the famous “I’m wearing everything you own” scene, in which Joey wears all of Chandler’s clothes - sans underwear - and annoys him about it by doing lunges. Their equal and opposite pettiness - “You took his underwear?” “He stole my essence!” - is similarly preposterous but similarly hilarious.

That, conceptually, makes up much of the brilliance of this half-hour. It, like a number of other episodes and indeed countless other sitcoms, has a very simple idea: the five other friends need to get ready to go to a museum benefit with Ross. But not only does it add more depth to its narrative than that, it tells the story in a unique way, setting virtually the entire episode in one room and in real time - save for the pre- and mid-credit sequence, the commercial break, and the odd timing inconsistency.

It is clever, both in the way that it essentially makes something out of nothing, but in the way that it relentlessly throws jokes at the screen and humorous problems at the characters. The Chandler-Joey interactions are the best at this - the A.A. Milne comment, Chandler sitting on Joey’s lap - but Rachel’s indecisiveness over what to wear while trying to find something for Phoebe is also great.

Ross’ infuriation over everyone nearly making him late feels realistic, rightly not making the dinosaur watch-wearing, short-tempered side of him be the joke or the cause of the characters’ stress. And although his outburst at Rachel is harsh and unnecessary, it is entirely understandable, particularly if you have ever nearly been late for an important event. Plus, it leads to him nearly drinking fat, which is simultaneously disgusting and fun, if only for Joey’s reaction and Phoebe’s assertion that the glass is more of a problem than the fat itself.

Meanwhile, Monica gets to express her impulsive and crazed side, hung up on Richard’s message and whether he left it while they were still together or if it is new. Calling him back was not completely crazy, as the others would suggest; using the code for his machine to play back her own message, and then becoming jealous when she hears another woman’s message - that is. That side of the episode is the weakest, but there are still some great moments in there, like Chandler and Phoebe taking her bedroom phone away and realising that she’d accidentally changed Richard’s outgoing message.

“The One Where No One’s Ready” is an experimental episode of sorts, but it pays off better than many may have imagined. Packed with jokes, it is one of Friends’ funniest episodes - and, of course, the one that thrust the phrase ‘going commando’ into popular culture.

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