You know what? Janice from Friends deserved better
Oh. My. GOD, put some respect on my girl’s name
There are some Sundays where you can’t face turning on the light, too hungover to drag yourself to the nearest pizza place, fit only to lie in a greasy lump on your sofa, caked with last night’s foundation and fake tan and binge watch Friends.
Because Friends always makes you feel better. Along with memes your mom sends you and eating original Lays for breakfast (don’t @ me), Friends cures all woes. Except it doesn’t, because this is how I spent my hungover Sunday this week, and all it did was make me angry.
Not angry about how much of an asshole Ross was. Not angry about the fact they had a pet monkey in a West Village high-rise and thought that was fine and not ridiculously cruel. No, I was mad about Janice.
Janice Litman Goralnik: the nasal, irritating, sartorially challenged, obnoxious, unapologetic, long-suffering, mistreated on and off girlfriend of Chandler Bing, meant to be someone we, along with Chandler and the others, hate, laugh at, want to go away. I am here to tell you that we ought to put some long overdue respect on Janice’s name, because honestly, she deserved better. There may be people out there who think that Janice and Chandler were meant to be over Chandler and Monica (it’s true that fate brought them a lot of chance meetings), but I disagree. Janice was meant for more.
Janice, with her brash, New Yorker voice, her garish green pant suits, her Rocky and Bullwinkle socks and her definitive nasal laugh, doesn’t fit in, so Chandler treats her like shit.
His snobbishness rubs off on his friends. They’re not like Janice, they’re stylish, respectable people from the suburbs (except Phoebe, admittedly) who moved to New York to work in the museum or run their own restaurants or be a trans…er, transponster? Is that what he was? They treat Janice as though she’s dumb, common, annoying.
And maybe she is all of those things, but that doesn’t make it OK. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”, Nick Carraway said (yes, there is a Great Gatsby quote in this article about Janice from Friends, sue me). Unfortunately, it’s advice that Chandler and his buddies don’t listen to.
And Janice must have known on some level how they all felt about her. That they thought she was annoying and made faces behind her back and tried again and again to get rid of her. But she didn’t show it. Lesser women than Janice would have complained about her boyfriend’s horrible, mean, judgemental friends, but she makes active efforts to ingratiate herself with them, to make them like her, to even organize a Joey and Janice’s Day of Fun. Janice, my friends, is the bigger person here. She is the best of all of them.
She continually gives them all another chance, especially Chandler, going back to him even when he dumps her hopped up on 15 espressos, going back to him even when he breaks up with her on NYE and Valentine’s Day, going back to him even when he rejects her by fake-moving to Yemen (we’ve all been there right gals).
If you brush all the snobbishness aside, on a personal level, Chandler still treated her badly. His abject terror in the face of personality quirks or even the slightest hint of commitment rivalled Ross in competition for the title of “Biggest Fuckboy In Friends Small Caucasian Manhattan World.”
Look, it’s not as if Janice was a shrinking violet, a clueless pushover. She’s not someone we should just pity or have no respect for. When she turns Chandler’s dumping her — AGAIN – in Season Three around on him, it was a triumphant moment. She nailed the easy breezy, I-Don’t Need-You vibe.
But unfortunately, more often than not, like all of us when we affect the easy breezy, I-Don’t-Need-You act, she still gets fucked over time and time again by the same average, kind of boring, commitment-phobic guy. If it was 2017, Janice would need a sit down in a nail salon in Flushing and a stern talking to from a group of worried friends. She’d have a couple hundred listens to Dua Lipa’s New Rules on repeat. And she’d have learned that she deserved better long before she actually did, when she walked away from Chandler in Season Three.
But she didn’t live in 2017, this was the 90s and times were hard, OK? I can’t pretend to understand the prehistoric behaviours of fuckboys past (when Friends premiered I was literally three years old). So, luckily for us, we can celebrate Janice retrospectively. In all her chatty, brash, unapologetic, wrong-type-of-woman glory.
I know I’d wanna be her friend, tbh.