‘Friends’: A Weird Phoebe and Joey Storyline Almost Happened

Friends could not have been pulled from Netflix at a worse time. The series was removed from the streaming platform in January 2020, shortly before much of the United States began abiding by stay at home orders amid Coronavirus fears. While the series will once again be available for streaming in May, it can’t come soon enough for many fans. Did you know, however, that the series almost looked a lot different? In fact, if Matt LeBlanc had his way, Joey Tribianni would have had a long-term hookup partner in Pheobe Buffay.  

Matt LeBlanc suggested a storyline about Joey and Phoebe hooking up was tossed around

LeBlanc once thought Friends was missing a vital romance. He told several publications that he, along with Lisa Kudrow, had pitched the idea of revealing a secret friends with benefits situation between Joey and Phoebe. LeBlanc noted that the two wouldn’t have had an official romance, but rather, a series of hookups when they weren’t seeing other people.

So, how would it have worked? LeBlanc suggested that the idea was to throw viewers a curveball by revealing that Joey and Phoebe had been hooking up for the entirety of the series. His idea, apparently, was to refilm key scenes from the series but spinning it so fans would realize that the two were actually secretly hooking up the entire time.  

LeBlanc didn’t go into how that would have worked in the context of their other romantic endeavors, but it likely could have been worked around. While Ross’ relationships often took center stage, as did Rachel’s, Pheobe and Joey’s love lives often didn’t include many long-term partners.

Ultimately writers abandoned the concept

While LeBlanc and Kudrow were keen on making the story arc happen, writers were less into the idea. LeBlanc recalled how he and Kudrow pitched the idea to writers, who dismissed the notion that the duo could have been hooking up for the duration of the series. It’s hard to say why the idea was scrapped. LeBlanc noted that they pitched the idea towards the end of the show, meaning two couples had already been established. Perhaps, the writers thought a third couple would have been too much.

By that point, Ross and Rachel’s love affair was well established, as was Chandler and Monica’s relationship. Chandler and Monica begin hooking up while visiting London for Ross’ doomed second wedding. Their hookup was supposed to end there, but they continued it once they got back stateside, only they didn’t want anyone to know. Much hilarity ensued as each member of the friend group finding out about the illicit romance. Ross Geller, of course, was the last to find out.

Would adding an additional romance have worked?

While writers may not have liked LeBlanc’s idea for a romance, fans do note that the characters had a special bond, and it’s possible a romantic relationship could have worked. One Reddit fan noted that Joey and Phoebe often discussed their special bond, but the series seemed to gloss over it, perhaps to make fans question their perception of the friendship.

Let’s look at the evidence. Joey and Phoebe once noted that they would meet weekly for lunch, without the rest of the group. Pheobe was also into the idea of a potential relationship, once noting that they would eventually end up together. Sure, it didn’t happen, but the groundwork was there for writers to move in that direction. So, why didn’t they? Bustle notes that a third romance would have been too much, but there is more to it than that. It seems that a sexual relationship between the two, even if it wasn’t romantic, would have really ruined the absolute best parts of their dynamic.