‘Friends’ Star Matt LeBlanc Insists Joey Tribbiani Was Not Dumb

Each Friends character played a pivotal role in the famed series. The cast’s chemistry is often credited with making the show successful. The way the characters were depicted, all inherently different but similar enough to get along, also helped the show succeed. Friends alum, Matt LeBlanc, doesn’t agree with fans’ perception of his character, Joey Tribbiani, though. LeBlanc insists that Joey wasn’t dumb. 

Joey Tribbiani remains a favorite of ‘Friends’ fans 

Friends was an ensemble cast, but not every character was loved the same. Joey Tribbiani remains one of the more beloved characters on Friends. According to NPR, Joey isn’t fans’ absolute favorite, but he ranks ahead of Ross Geller, Rachel Green, and Monica Geller. 

'Friends' David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, and Matt LeBlanc stand in a line for a cast photo
‘Friends’ David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, and Matt LeBlanc stand in a line for a cast photo | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

The only characters who rank ahead of Joey are Chandler Bing and Phoebe Buffay, with Phoebe being deemed the most likable pal. NPR argues that Joey is amiable because he got goofier as the series progressed. If his character had maintained his season 1 persona, he likely would have been just as unlikable as Ross, who consistently ranks as the least liked member of the core friend group. 

Why did ‘Friends’ fans like Joey so much?

Joey’s clueless nature probably made him a lot more palatable, despite his womanizing ways. Most fans perceived the character as dumb. The notion that Joey was unintelligent made him feel a bit more innocent and less predatory than other characters perceived as romantically problematic. That wasn’t always the way it was, though. In season 1, Joey was far more predatory and street smart than he ended up being as the show progressed. 

While Joey was perceived as dumb and thus, innocent, his pal, Ross, was perceived as smart but incredibly problematic. In many ways, Joey and Ross swapped personality traits. When the series started, Ross was seen as smart but clueless about women. As he gained more romantic experience, he became creepier, whinier, and less likable. Ross’ intelligence meant he should have known better, but he didn’t. Fans largely dismissed Joey’s behavior because he came across as unaware. 

Matt LeBlanc never thought of Joey Tribbiani as dumb 

While the perception of Joey as a bit dumb probably helped the character’s likeability, LeBlanc insists he never saw the character that way. During a 2018 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, LeBlanc said that he never played Joey “dumb.” He saw him as “incorrect” instead. 

Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay and Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani in 'Friends'
Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay and Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

LeBlanc told the publication, “For me, he was never ‘dumb.’ For me, he was always just incorrect. He had his own sort of parallel-universe stream of logic.” LeBlanc’s thoughts on the character make a ton of sense. Joey did seem to operate in his own space and reality, often failing to understand even the basics of adulthood. Still, it’s easier to think of Joey as less intelligent but ultimately good-natured. 

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