- On Chandler Bing’s Job
- Friends: 10 Times Rachel & Monica Were Friendship Goals
- 10 They have a history together
- 9 Monica took Rachel in
- 8 Monica gave Rachel her health insurance (even though it means committing a fraud)
- 7 Nobody can take them from each other
- 6 Monica cooks for Rachel's date
- 5 It is the end of an era when Rachel moves out
- 4 Rachel is Monica's maid of honor
- 3 When Rachel finds out she is pregnant, Monica is there for her
- 2 Monica gave up her “baby name” for Rachel
- 1 When they say goodbye to each other
On Chandler Bing’s Job
Dave Bjerke / NBC / NBCU Photo Bank / Getty / Shutterstock / Klara Auerbach / The Atlantic
In an episode in the fourth season of Friends, Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey find themselves engaged in an argument: Chandler and Joey, they claim, know Monica and Rachel much better than the women know them.
Before long, the debate devolves into a game-show-style quiz. The host: Ross, who delights in the job. The topic: the minutiae of the friends’ lives.
The stakes (which have become, through a series of predictably zany events, incredibly high): If the women lose the game, they have agreed, they will trade apartments with Chandler and Joey.
The correct answers quickly proliferate; as friends who are basically family, these people know each other’s stories really, really well. “Joey had an imaginary childhood friend. His name was …?” / “Maurice!” / “Correct.
His profession was …?” / “Space cowboy!”; “According to Chandler, what phenomenon ‘scares the bejeezus’ him?” / “Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance!”; “Rachel claims this is her favorite movie …” / “Dangerous Liaisons!” / “Correct.
Her actual favorite movie is …?” / “Weekend at Bernie’s!”
By the conclusion of the quiz’s lightning round, the women are down one point. With time running out and the game—and their home—on the line, Ross asks them a final question: “What is Chandler Bing’s job?”
The women freeze, dumbfounded. “Oh gosh, it has something to do with numbers …” Rachel offers. “And processing!” Monica adds. Rachel notes that Chandler carries a briefcase. This clue does not help. They look at each other, panicking.
“Ten seconds,” Ross says. “You need this or you lose the game.”
“It’s, um … it has something to do with transponding!” Monica, frantic, shouts. “Oh, oh, oh!” Rachel agrees. “Oh, he’s a transpons—a transponster!”
That, Monica squeals in agony, is not even a word. And it is definitely not Chandler Bing’s job. Monica and Rachel lose the game—and with it, their beloved apartment.
Transponster was a punch line that had been, by Friends’ fourth season, years in the making—one of the jokes the show had been running pretty much since it made its premiere in September 1994. No one knows how Chandler Bing makes his living. That includes, quite often, Chandler himself.
The women may have correctly answered several of the quiz’s deep-cut questions about the guys’ childhoods and sexual experiences and personal idiosyncrasies, but there’s an aptness to the fact that, when it comes to Chandler, they are unable to answer a question so basic that it doubles, at this point, as a cliché: What does he do?
Each episode of Friendsengages in a cheerful act of bait and switch.
The initial bars of the show’s ear-wormy theme song—So no one told you life was gonna be this way—suggest a certain disillusionment to come, a sitcom whose situations might poke fun not only at life’s absurdities, but also at its disappointments.
In 1994, in particular, those lines suggested that Friends might be a comedic rendering of Reality Bites, the Generation X touchstone that had premiered earlier that year—a story about young people attempting to eke some purpose a world that has given them none.
Friends’ characters, in those early days, occasionally dressed in flannel; beyond that, though, the show offered extremely little overlap with the film.
Friends was too enamored of its premises—New York and youth and all the magic that might be found in the mingling of the two—to deliver on its own implied pessimisms.
The show emphasized the giddy possibilities of the stage of life that, when Friends premiered, was about to be given its own designation: emerging adulthood.
And so Friends, a family sitcom that celebrated the family you choose, was built not of betrayals, but of accommodations. The cynicisms of the world surrounding it were washed away in the upbeat chorus that doubled as the show’s true refrain: I’ll be there for you … ’cause you’re there for me, too.
That optimism was evident from the very beginning in the array of professions that Friends allotted to its core characters.
The show’s small universe is populated by a chef and an actor and a musician and an academic and a fashion executive—by people, in other words, whose jobs suggest the use of creative as a noun, and whose constellation of privileges includes the breezy ability to associate labor with spiritual fulfillment.
Friends cared deeply, in its earnestly sardonic way, about the careers it had bequeathed to its protagonists.
Its plots nourished and complicated and questioned the friends’ jobs with an intensity that would anticipate other NBC shows—among them 2005’s The Office and 2009’s Parks and Recreation—and that would embrace extremely 21st-century assumptions about professions that double as identities. This was one of the fantasies Friends was selling: The show created a world whose denizens were able to take advantage of their work, rather than the other way around.
Except, that is, when it came to Chandler. Chandler, who is so indifferent about what he does that he is unable to pay his job even the small courtesy of hating it—Chandler, besuited and bedraggled, whose work in computer-something-or-other summons the amorphous anxieties of the coming digital age. (Maybe he is a transponster.
Does it matter? Could he be less passionate about it?) It is through Chandler, in the end, that Reality Bites finds its way into Friends’ otherwise chipper cosmology. His work is simply there, looming, draining, tautological.
His laconic resentments of it invoke the precise strain of Gen Xed ennui the novelist Douglas Coupland had described earlier in the decade: the mistrust of institutions, the mistrust of professions, the mistrust of meaning itself. Chandler is Friends’ theme song rendered in a minor key. And he is the exception who proves the show’s rule.
What is Chandler Bing’s job? succeeds as a joke precisely because Friends, through every other character, makes such insistent romance of work.
Chandler Bing entered his profession in that most relatable of ways: He got a job because he had to, and he failed to get a better one, and that failure extended over a period of years, and soon enough, through inertia’s bland inevitabilities, Chandler’s job became his career.
That the path in question was one he had so explicitly not chosen for himself allows Chandler to operate, in Friends, as the character whose job earns him the most and gains him the least. “All right, kids, I gotta get to work,” he tells the others, early on in the series.
“If I don’t input those numbers …”—he pauses, considering—“… it doesn’t make much of a difference.”
Friends made one sweeping capitulation to the world that surrounded it: It sacrificed Chandler to the demands of reality. (Danny Feld / NBCU Photo Bank)
The other friends get frustrated with their work, definitely. Romance, any rom-com will tell you, is made more fulfilling by the challenges to it that arise along the way. And so Friends finds Monica donning roller skates and Partontastic foam breasts to serve up burgers in a ’50s-style diner.
It finds Rachel coughing her way through a fictional nicotine addiction to get face time with her smoker boss.
It finds Joey, navigating the instabilities of the entertainment industry, taking jobs as the literal poster boy for gonorrhea (and as Al Pacino’s butt double, and as a singer in an extraordinarily awkward musical about the work of Sigmund Freud).
These are dues the friends happily pay, though, because their professions give them so much in return. Their jobs serve their careers, and their careers serve their dreams, and one of Friends’ most treasured convictions is that ambition deserves its own happy ending.
(“It’s about sex, love, relationships, careers, a time in your life when everything’s possible,” the show’s initial pitch went.) Monica, Ross, Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel are thus happy to be defined by their work.
They have the luxury of answering the many What do you do?s that will come their way without needing to question the premise.
Take Rachel. In Friends’ pilot episode, she joins the group after leaving her fiancé at the altar—fleeing, the show soon reveals, the life of certain financial comfort and implied spiritual vacuity that had awaited her had she stayed on Long Island.
She moves in with Monica and is promptly cut off from her family money (we will learn, later on, that her father had once gifted her a sailboat—“He was trying to cheer me up! My pony was sick!”).
And then Rachel gets a job whose main benefit is its geographical convenience: She becomes a waitress at Central Perk. “Isn’t this exciting?” she asks, as she opens her first paycheck to great fanfare from her fellow friends.
“I earned this! I wiped tables for it! I steamed milk for it! And it was totally”—she opens the envelope—“not worth it. Who’s FICA? Why’s he getting all my money?”
This is classic Friends. Here is the show nodding dutifully to the notion of financial struggle while cleansing its world of the inconvenient anxieties of true financial need. Rachel’s economic status may change; her class, however, does not.
To the extent that, in Friends’ telling, the too-small paycheck that for most people would be the stuff of panic and stress and fear becomes, for Rachel, a spiritual victory.
Her very disappointment at the meager number is played for woozy romance: It represents the path through which Rachel Green, princess no longer, will eventually find her professional calling. It represents freedom. It represents the fantasy.
In that pilot episode, the friends cheer, spectators in an extremely specific sporting event, as, one by one, Rachel cuts the credit cards that had enabled her prior complacencies. “Welcome to the real world,” Monica tells her. “It sucks. You’re gonna love it.”
Earlier this year, my colleague Derek Thompson described an idea that has been steadily spreading among America’s college-educated elites: the notion that work operates as a kind of secular religion.
He called this phenomenon—both an economic premise and a psychic mode—workism. “What is workism?” Thompson wrote.
“It is the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.”
Twenty-five years in advance, Friends embraced workism’s fondest assumptions. It believed in the spiritual possibilities of labor. It treated career trajectories as love stories.
It premiered, however, into an America that, having tired of the gaudy excesses of the Reagan years, had endorsed Bill Clinton’s message of evened opportunities and fairer shakes.
It aired within a culture that was rightfully suspicious of the casual promises that had been lobbed in its direction. And so Friends tried to have it both ways. It calibrated its optimisms. It insisted that its fantasies were grounded in reality.
It talked about jobs that were jokes; it talked about being broke. It offered throwaway lines about FICA. It considered, on multiple occasions, all that can go wrong when people with soft bodies navigate hard lives without the protections of health insurance.
But Friends also made a more sweeping capitulation to the world that surrounded it: It sacrificed Chandler to the demands of reality. It saddled one of its six beloved characters with a job that held him captive, essentially, to capitalism itself. Through Chandler, Friends questioned its own premises, or claimed to. Through him, it acknowledged.
Through him, it commiserated. While Friends’ other characters find fulfillment in their ambitions, Chandler finds the opposite. He is put down so that the others might rise. The answer to What is Chandler Bing’s job?, the show’swriters finally reveal, is that he works in “statistical analysis and data reconfiguration.
” This is another kind of punch line.
And so Chandler, for most of the show’s 10 seasons, doubles as a paradox: He is a personification of privilege who manages also to serve as an avatar of exploitation.
He doesn’t fail upward so much as he flails that way. Things devolve to the point that Chandler falls asleep during a meeting, awakening to realize that he has somehow agreed to relocate to Oklahoma.
Indolence can plague even the arcs that move forward.
Which makes it remarkable when, very late in the show’s run, the character who is by then a VP of computer-something-or-other abruptly quits his job. He has no other lined up. What he has had, though, is a belated epiphany: Chandler Bing wants to work in advertising.
He has dreams, too, it turns out; to follow them, he announces, he is willing to start over as an intern, trading one kind of security for another. And with that, Friends, having at that point no more capitulations to give, embraced its own soft romance. Its fantasy had come for Chandler.
He wanted to know what it felt to be asked “What do you do?” and find satisfaction, finally, in the answer.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers culture.
“,”author”:null,”date_published”:”2019-09-12T14:39:00.000Z”,”lead_image_url”:”https://cdn.theatlantic.com/thumbor/xOlKZ9aMitthkfuU-dqJaItj_y4=/0x43:2000×1085/960×500/media/img/mt/2019/09/Chandler_FINAL/original.jpg”,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:”https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/09/friends-25-prescience-chandler-bing-job/597829/”,”domain”:”www.theatlantic.com”,”excerpt”:”Twenty-five years ago, “Friends” anticipated a time that would both romanticize and mistrust the culture of work.”,”word_count”:2177,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}
Friends: 10 Times Rachel & Monica Were Friendship Goals
There are probably not many people who didn't watch or at least heard about Friends. One of the most iconic tv sitcoms of all time was filmed between 1994 and 2004, but remains popular even today.
The story follows a group of six friends living in New York City, their ups and downs, and personal relationships.
While all six of them are inseparable and connected on so many levels, one “besties” couple represents the ultimate friendship goals. Yes, we are talking about Rachel and Monica.
These two friends go way back and have a special bond, and these ten moments were absolute friendship goals.
10 They have a history together
Monica and Rachel have been friends since high school. They shared all of the most important moments in their adolescent years. When Rachel's prom date didn't show up, Monica comforted her and told her that she wouldn't go to the prom either.
They went to the college party together, dancing and having fun all night. When Monica started to lose her weight, Rachel notices even a couple of pounds lost and supported her all the way. They also came up with the plan where Monica would seduce Chandler and then walk away, as a revenge for calling her fat.
Of course, Monica knew nothing about seduction, so Rachel teaches her everything she knows.
9 Monica took Rachel in
After leaving Barry at the altar, Rachel walked into Central Perk cafe, in her wedding dress, all wet from the rain, looking for Monica. They drifted apart after they finished high school, but in those hard times, Rachel comes to her old friend.
Even though they haven't seen each other in a while, and Monica was not invited to Rachel's wedding, she still took her in and gave her the spare room in the apartment.
They renewed their friendship, and Rachel stayed Monica's roommate until Chandler moved in to start his life with Monica.
8 Monica gave Rachel her health insurance (even though it means committing a fraud)
In the episode “The One With Two Parts,” Rachel hurt her ankle falling off the roof while taking off the Christmas lights. Monica took her to the hospital, only to find out that Rachel doesn't have health insurance.
Two friends switched their identities so that Rachel can use Monica's insurance. Even though she committed fraud, Monica put her friend's health first. Rachel also told Monica that she is her emergency contact, which proves trust and closeness they share.
In the end, they switch back their identities, and Rachel pays for her hospital bill.
7 Nobody can take them from each other
When Ross started dating Julie, Rachel finds that hard and couldn't hide her jealousy. Monica was torn between staying loyal friend to Rachel and being kind to her brother's new girlfriend, so when Julie asked her to go shopping with her, Monica says yes, but kept that from Rachel.
Naturally, Rachel finds out, and the two had a huge fight. It ended when Rachel explains to Monica why she is so upset. She told her that she is afraid that Julie would take Monica away from her, and she doesn't want to lose her best friend. They promised each other that nobody could take them away from each other.
6 Monica cooks for Rachel's date
Rachel had a huge crush on Joshua, so for their third date, she wanted to impress him by cooking dinner for him. The only problem was – Rachel doesn't know how to cook. That is when Monica proved her friendship one more time.
She stepped in and prepared a delicious meal for Rachel and Joshua's date, that Rachel took credit for.
Unfortunately, dinner ended up in a fridge, because they got interrupted by Joshua's fear of farm animals, and later his parents coming home early.
5 It is the end of an era when Rachel moves out
When Monica and Chandler decide that they are going to live together, it is hard news for Rachel, because that effectively ends her role as Monica's roommate. On the evening of packing Rachel's stuff, she and Monica start a huge fight.
Phoebe makes it worse, announcing that she no longer wants to live with Rachel. To convince Phoebe to take Rachel in, Monica starts telling all of her good roommate qualities.
When she remembered how nice, considered, and thoughtful Rachel was, two best friends make up and with tears and hugs, realizes that it is the end of an era.
4 Rachel is Monica's maid of honor
After her engagement with Chandler, Monica has to choose her maid of honor, between Rachel and Phoebe, so she lets them decide. Phoebe and Rachel start to compete over the “maid of honor” title, with Ross and Joey as judges.
When Rachel lost, she gave Phoebe all of the little things she already has for Monica's wedding, including a picture of two of them as children, where Rachel hold Monica's imaginary wedding dress. Seeing how important this is to her, and how long it has been her dream, Phoebe steps down, and let Rachel be Monica's maid of honor.
3 When Rachel finds out she is pregnant, Monica is there for her
Rachel got pregnant with Ross but decided to keep it quiet until after Monica and Chandler's wedding.
Phoebe finds the pregnancy test in the trash, and after some misunderstandings, Monica and Phoebe finally realize that the test is Rachel's.
Even though it is her wedding day, Monica convinces Rachel to take another test right away, just to be sure. After the second test shows positive, Monica was so supportive, and she has been there for her through the entire pregnancy.
2 Monica gave up her “baby name” for Rachel
In season 8, Rachel and Ross had their baby. But there is one thing they didn't have, and that is a name for the baby.
They kept fighting and putting a veto on each other's choices, and at the same time, referring to the child as a “baby girl.” In the hospital, Monica says how she already knows her future child's name, and it is Emma.
Rachel immediately falls in love with the name, and Monica let her have it. She said that she loves that name, but she loves Rachel more.
1 When they say goodbye to each other
In the last season, Rachel decided to move to Paris because of a new job. The gang throws her a going away party that turns into an emotional sobbing fest.
She decided to say goodbye to each friend individually, and while every speech was touching, the one with Monica was especially heartbreaking.
At one point, they were talking through tears, with high pitch voices, but two best friends understood each other perfectly, even though nobody else could.
NEXT: 20 Things You Never Noticed in Joey And Chandler's Apartment
NextInstagrams Of The Main Cast Of LuciferRelated Topics About The Author More About Nikolina Bilić