Greatest TV Episodes – Friends: The One Where Everyone Finds Out
Friends was one of the definitive sitcoms of the last twenty years. How I Met Your Mother may have had more heart (as judged by its bittersweet ending) but it was never as successful as its predecessor. The Big Bang Theory taps into modern geek culture brilliantly but is perhaps a little less accessible as a result. Only Frasier hit the same mark with its ability to match wit with slapstick. Friends was the comedy of our generation and when it was funny, it was very, very funny.
So to pick the best episode is quite the challenge. Is it the culmination of the will they / won’t they relationship between Ross and Rachel in season two? Or the fateful trip to London in season four (I take thee Rachel)? They were certainly some of the series’ highs but the greatest episode is the one that dealt with the fallout of London, ‘The One Where Everyone Finds Out’ about Chandler and Monica’s secret relationship.
By season five, the actors knew their characters backwards and we loved their quirky personalities. So this episode was an opportunity to throw everything up in the air, change the dynamic of the show and have a hell of a lot of fun getting there.
Over the course of the season Joey and then Rachel had discovered the truth. But when Phoebe sees Monica and Chandler having sex, all bets are off. From the moment of Phoebe’s hysterical reaction we are treated to a series of hilarious events that were never bettered in the show’s history.
Rachel and Phoebe concocting a plan to mess with Chandler and Monica. Joey’s relief that everyone knows and then despair as he is pulled into the events that follow. Chandler’s utter shock as Phoebe comes on to him. Uber-competitive Monica realising that Phoebe and Rachel know about them. The episode builds and builds and builds towards the final scene…Phoebe seducing Chandler.
This is Lisa Kudrow’s finest moment as Phoebe Buffay. Phoebe in the tight dress, slinking towards Chandler, the front popping open is tear-inducing, as is Chandler gingerly attempting to embrace her. As audience members we flitted between laughing and cringing as we wondered just how far team Rachel / Phoebe versus team Monica / Chandler would go.
And in case you were wondered about poor Ross, who remains oblivious to the shenanigans going on, he gets an equally hysterical reaction to round the episode off.
‘The One Where Everyone Finds Out’ could have played out in one awkwardly funny scene at the beginning of the episode. Instead the series built up the anticipation of Monica and Chandler’s relationship to breaking point over the course of half a season and then delivered twenty minutes of solid laughter that showed us Friends could still surprise us.