Friends is the single most important television show of our time. There, we said it.
Now, before you start arguing about Seinfeld this or Frasier that, know that this issue isn't even what this story is about. We just wanted to make that statement before getting to the actual task at hand: Discussing the friends themselves. And, more specifically, pitting each of the Friends actors against each other in a tooth-and-nail fight to find out who's had the most successful career since the milestone show wrapped.
We used a cutting edge scientific equation to weigh all the different variables of each of their subsequent roles—which means, in a nutshell, that this is all based on our very biased opinions and no mathematical reasoning whatsoever. But, as perhaps the biggest Friends fans this side of the Mississippi, ours is basically the only opinion that matters. We've analyzed everyone's comings and goings in Hollywood, from Lisa Kudrow's short-lived but lovely Web Therapy to—shudder—Joey.
What we came up with is sure to be the definitive ranking of the former Friends' success. At times we're brutally honest, at other times we shower irrational praise, but we can guarantee you we loved every second of it.
Ahead, our ranking, from worst to best.
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What happened, Ross? You had so much potential and you just threw it all away. And for what? To play Robert Kardashian in a miniseries about O.J. Simpson? (Okay, sure, it's a miniseries created by Ryan Murphy, but who really cares). Schwimmer has had a few career highlights since Friends, of course, like voicing the adorably neurotic giraffe Melman in Madagascar. But, that's about where they end. Sure, there are worse things than being known for voicing a cartoon giraffe, but we just can't think of them right now.
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Matthew Perry, king of the guest spots. Or, more specifically, king of the guest spots on television shows run by his friends. He's been on everything, and a lot of his cameos were actually good and/or funny: Scrubs, The Good Wife, Cougar Town, and Web Therapy. There's also something to be said for the short-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (because, well, Aaron Sorkin), and anyone who says that 17 Again wasn't a comedic masterpiece is lying. But, he also had some missteps—i.e., anything that he's actually fronted (here's looking at you, Go On). Something says the same fate is in store for his new Odd Couple reboot. Could he be any more unlucky?
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It is physically painful to say anything negative about Jennifer Aniston, because she is a beautiful gentle flower with perfect hair. But, unfortunately, some (or, rather, almost all) of her portfolio has not been perfect. Most millenials owe some-to-all of their personalities to Aniston's Friends character (don't lie, you totally had The Rachel), but we owe nothing to the characters from Friends With Money. Or The Switch. Or Wanderlust. Or We're The Millers. She does get bonus points for the rom-coms that were actually funny (Horrible Bosses and Along Came Polly among them), as well as for her hopefully career-shifting turn in Cake. Also she's Jennifer Aniston.
This might be a tad controversial, but Cougar Town is a fabulous show and we should all be forever thankful to Courteney Cox for bringing us Big Carl. Most of Cox's projects haven't really stuck (here's looking at you, Dirt), but we'll able to rely on the Cul-de-Sac Crew's genius in-jokes for years to come. Also, we loved her guest spots on Web Therapy and Scrubs.
For being perhaps the most oft-forgotten member of the Friends cast, Matt LeBlanc has actually seen a ton of success in the year's since the show. And, yes, we're choosing to overlook Joey. After the tremendous embarrassment of the spinoff, it's a wonder he was able to show his face in Tinseltown again. But, show it he did, and he got a boatload of Emmy nominations in return. The genius of Showtime's Episodes is LeBlanc's willingness to make fun of himself, and it seems like he's being rewarded for not trying to go the attempted-blockbuster route of his peers. It teaches a valuable lesson: When in doubt, self-deprecation is best.
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Kudrow's amazing brand of sass—and the way she totally owns it 24/7—earned her the top spot. She's carved out the kind of career that only Lisa Kudrow could have, and it's great to see her taking charge of her destiny with great shows like Web Therapy and The Comeback. She's a genius comedian and delivers line with an expert deadpan, which also garnered her props for movies like Easy A, Neighbors, and let's not forget that turn on Scandal. Phoebe's quirkiness and flighty charm was loveable, but it's the sharp-tongued Kudrow that we love best. Props all around.