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I wish I could, but I don't want to.
Sometimes Phoebe Buffay can feel a little superfluous on Friends,
sort of like the odd friend out.
I've always felt kind of like an outsider.
You know, the rest of you have these connections that go way back.
Major storylines don't usually revolve around her,
because she never dates anyone in the group,
and we only see her live with other friends briefly.
So on one level, it's easy to see Rachel's point
that if anyone were to be phased out of the group, it would be Phoebe.
You live far away, you're not related.
You lift right out.
But if you were to take Phoebe out of the show, the mix just wouldn't work.
Because she's the mystery ingredient that spices things up,
I am pretty cool.
the salt, if you will.
Phoebe's edgy, layered personality adds complexity to a series that,
in her absence, might border on bland.
We have it all. We have crushed, cubed, and dry -- watch -- ah.
So what is it about Phoebe that the whole group together and adds that extra special magic?
P as in Phoebe, H as in hoebie,
O as in oebe, E as in ebe,
B as in beebee, and E as in...
ello there, mate!
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Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you? Everybody!
Phoebe is the secret mastermind of the group.
She uses her insights about other characters to pull invisible strings.
I like to think of myself as the puppet master of the group.
Phoebe, the puppet master, can be a bit of a troublemaker.
Tell him who you originally wanted to hook up with that night.
She has a habit of being loose-lipped.
Oh my God! Monica, he's the stripper from your bachelorette party!
and even straight up meddling in her friends' personal lives.
We could set Ross and Rachel up on horrible dates, so they'll realize how good they are together.
Phoebe's interference can have a good or bad immediate effect.
Oh, no.
Yet Phoebe's friends need her straight-talking and boldness
because she pushes them to confront their true feelings about things.
It's-it's not negative, it's positive.
Are you sure?
Well, yeah, I lied before.
Now you know how you really feel about it.
She helps Rachel see that she's still in love with Ross,
If someone I was still in love with was getting married--
Still in love with?
and at another point, she confronts Ross about his love for Rachel.
Now he's using this three divorces reason because he wants to stay married to her because he loves her.
She pretends to seduce Chandler to get him to openly admit he's dating Monica.
I can't have sex with you.
And why not?
Because I'm in love with Monica!
And in the series finale, her phone call to Rachel --
Something is wrong with the left Phalange.
creates a frenzy on the plane and delays Rachel's flight,
which gives Ross the opportunity to confess his love just in time.
Phoebe seems to take some pleasure in stirring up drama and then sitting back and watching it play out.
I don't want to miss the fight.
Like when she uses her friends' lives as material for her book.
Monic...Marsha and Chester are planning on seeing a movie Sunday night.
Marsha thinks they're supposed to meet at 6. Chester thinks it's at 7.
So you knew we were gonna miss the movie?
That's right.
We get the sense that Phoebe is studying these people
and manipulating them far more than we realize.
You know what the best part of it is?
I get to do my plan laugh.
But even if she creates surface trouble,
in the long run, she's helping her friends move closer toward what they truly want.
We can understand Phoebe's role in the friend group by looking at the Triple Goddess archetype.
The idea is that there are three female figures: the maiden, the mother, and the crone.
So on Friends, Rachel would be the naive and beautiful maiden of the group.
Monica is the practical, mature mother figure.
And Phoebe is the wise crone.
Yeah, I'm very wise, I know.
That's not to say that Phoebe's an old woman,
but that she has world experience, perspective and insight beyond her years.
There are children coming into the world in this very building, and your negative fighting noises are not the first thing they should be hearing.
She sees the big picture more clearly than her friends do.
You love her, you always have, you have a child together.
There's no right answer.
And for the audience, Phoebe serves the function of commenting on the other characters.
She points out what's going on with them even when they can't see it themselves.
You ate meat!
You had sex!
It's clear that she's always a whole lot of steps ahead of everyone else.
Rachel's pregnant.
- Oh my god, I can't believe it! - Holy mother of God!
With my child.
That is brand new information!
Phoebe's world-wisdom and savvy come from the extreme trauma and tragedy she experienced in her past.
My mom had killed herself and my dad had run off.
And I was living in a gremlin with a guy named Cindy who talked to his hand.
The show makes a joke of how terrible Phoebe's childhood was.
I lost my mom to suicide.
Okay, no way, you cannot use that to get the cute guy and the last blueberry muffin.
Did I use that already today? I'm sorry.
But ultimately her edge adds a little more substance to Friends,
she makes this more than just a show about sheltered people without any exposure to harsh reality.
I wasn't rich like you guys, okay?
I didn't eat gold and have a flying pony.
How Phoebe has responded to her past is also really important.
Chandler, the other friend with a painful childhood experience,
is still completely emotionally scarred by his parents' divorce.
When my parents got divorced, I started using humor as a defense mechanism.
So it's amazing that even though Phoebe's been through much, much worse,
she's made a conscious choice to be open and kind and optimistic.
She still has some hardness to her...
Someday I'll tell you about the time I stabbed a cop.
And she's clear about her boundaries.
If you touch my guitar again, I'm gonna have to pound on you a little bit.
But she keeps these parts of herself in check.
In the alternative episode, Phoebe's a Wall Street workaholic driven by anger
No, no.I said sell when it hits fifty! Five-O!
It's a number that comes after four-nine!
So the symbolism is that the Phoebe we know is defined by her choice,
not to harden herself by giving in to bitterness,
which would have been very easy given all that she's been through.
You see that was an actual problem.
And yours is just like, you know, a bunch of, you know, high-school crap that nobody really gives...
Phoebe knows what it's like to lose people, so she really understands the value of relationships.
My friends are the most important thing in my life.
And while the six friends are all good to each other,
Phoebe also helps people outside of their circle.
These jerks might not care about you, but the universe does.
Maybe it's because she grew up far less privileged than her friends
that she's a generous do-gooder in the world at large.
I mean last year I spread a little joy, but not really enough.
So this year I'm gonna do the whole city.
The other five friends are private citizens,
but Phoebe's a world citizen
who's driven by her social conscience and desire to be a good humanitarian.
Okay, let's start with the free massages at the U.N.
Oh, it's my new thing.
I figure, Bodies at peace make peace.
A lot of her storylines are about her determination to make the world better.
I'm gonna find a selfless good deed.
I'm gonna beat you, you evil genius.
And Phoebe does really hard selfless things,
like being the surrogate for her half brother's babies.
I know it's gonna be like a million times harder to give up a baby,
but oh my God, it's gonna feel a million times better, right?
When she can't bring herself to keep the money that shows up in her bank account accidentally,
what she says tells us a lot about her value system.
I'd never be able to enjoy it.
It'd be this giant karmic debt.
For Phoebe, good karma and what she puts out into the universe
is far more important than the earthly money or success she receives.
Phoebe is the exception to the rule of upper-middle class ascension that we see in Friends.
She doesn't really have much career ambition. She floats between different jobs,
and doesn't have that drive to be the head of her team, the star in a big TV show, or the well-paid executive.
So she's a refreshing alternative to the assumption that you need a prestigious, high-powered career in order to see yourself successful.
To "Years of hard work finally paying off."
And to "Knowing that your career doesn't mean everything."
The fact that the more mainstream five friends like Phoebe so much
proves that they're more complex and interesting than they might first appear.
And Phoebe leads her more sheltered friends by example.
She helps them be more empathetic, open-minded people.
I believe this is my mother.
Even if I'm wrong, who cares?
Just be a friend, okay? Be supportive.
She shows them the power of having strong values...
Honey, you have principles, and I so admire that.
and not caring what anyone thinks of you.
People were looking at us like we were crazy.
Why do you care?
Because they're people!
People that you don't know and will never see again.
She teaches her friends to be more stable and emotionally mature in the face of personal challenges.
Alright, you don't have to love each other, okay?
You don't even have to like each other much right now.
But please, you have to figure out a way to be around each other.
It can be easy to underestimate Phoebe because she comes across as an oddball...
No, no. Stop cleansing my aura.
and a true innocent with her head in the clouds.
When you said 'the deal with Santa Claus,' you meant?
- That he doesn't exist. - Right.
But it's a mistake to confuse her kookiness for a lack of depth.
She's a layered, nuanced person full of contradictions.
She's tough yet flaky.
That's true, I am flaky.
weird yet wholesome, free-spirited yet firm.
Phoebe's a kind of wildcard.
On the moment-to-moment level, you never know what exactly is going to come out of her mouth.
Oh, wait, my grandmother's dead.
and on the deeper level, too, she's ever surprising both others and herself.
Yeah, I'm a big surprise.
Due to Phoebe's complexity and surface weirdness,
her friends and maybe viewers sometimes miss the fact that she has normal human needs.
All I wanted to do was... have dinner with my friends on my birthday.
Phoebe may take pride in being different,
but she comes to see that in many ways she's also the same as everyone else,
and she has to assert that to get her needs taken seriously.
When we make plans, I expect you to show up. Okay?
I can't just be a way to kill time till you meet someone better.
When she gets into her first long-term relationship with Mike,
she's surprised to realize that she's really drawn to traditional family life.
I had no idea you were so conventional.
I know. I guess I am.
Oh my God, load up the Volvo, I want to be a soccer mom.
So when Mike rules out the possibility of marriage,
she has to speak up and explain why this is a deal-breaker for her.
I haven't exactly had a normal life.
And I never really felt like I was missing out on anything.
But it feels like now it's my turn to have some of the regular stuff.
This is a key moment for Phoebe. She's coming to terms with the fact that she wants conventional things,
and there's nothing wrong with that.
Earlier in the show, it might seem mysterious.
Why Phoebe spends all of her time with such mainstream people?
You're, you know, so...vanilla.
But she values their stability and normality,especially because those things have been missing in most of her life.
What's funny is that for her character, doing the traditional thing
actually is the unexpected choice that pushes her out of her comfort zone.
her flower child persona, the Phoebe we first meet can be rigid and stuck in her ways.
And while Phoebe's staunchness is often a great thing,
at times it leads her to be too harsh with people,
or insist on making a statement when it's not strictly necessary.
I am mad at you, I know that much.
So Phoebe finally grows when she learns to be less dogmatic about her moral ideas and become more flexible.
And now, you know what, just because potentially the love of my life.
I-I should change my beliefs?
I should change my beliefs!
So as the essential mystery ingredient of Friends,
Phoebe is the behind-the-scenes mastermind who adds depth to the show,
and helps her friends be better people.
Every time we watch, there's always a new layer to discover
within that one-of-a-kind enigma who is Phoebe Buffay.
I may play the fool at times but I'm more than a pretty blonde girl with an ass that won't quit.
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Phoebe Buffay, the Mystery Ingredient of Friends

720 Folder Collection
Ellie published on May 14, 2019    Ellie translated    Evangeline reviewed
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