That anything is possible and that you are extraordinarily talented. Phoebe taught you that even with the odds stacked against you, optimism can go along way. She also taught you that you’re too damn humble, and you should tell people how good you are constantly, instead of selling yourself short.
That sometimes it’s good to be stingy. Honestly, Ross doesn’t have that many redeeming qualities. He’s a whiny ass boyfriend who thinks the world is against him. He throws his own personal pity parties. However, he is kind of unnecessarily stingy which I assume is the one tribute to the fact that he’s Jewish (which, like, they couldn’t have thought beyond that stereotype just a little?). Anyway, while it’s not the sexiest life advice, it’s practical. He taught us that good financial sense is important, but that you shouldn’t overdo it by counting every last penny.
That you don’t have to be what your parents want you to be, what your friend wants you to be, or what your significant other wants you to be. For the fact that Rachel comes off as a total pushover and also tends to whine a lot (I’m pretty sure that’s what she and Ross have in common), she finds her own way without succumbing to anyone else’s wishes. She doesn’t get married when her family wants her to, she doesn’t ease up at work to coddle her boyfriend, and then she has a kid on her own.
The life lessons with Joey are kind of few and far between, but he’s probably your resident cautionary tale. He taught you that you should practice safe sex, get tested, save money, and learn proper geography.
You should always try to keep your apartment clean. She also taught you that, whether you like it or not, someone needs to be the mom of the friend group: the one who always has food to feed everyone else with, the one who organizes plans, the one who has the living room that everyone hangs out in on Saturday afternoons (and randomly eats breakfast in, in their case).
You can always break the ice with a good joke. Humor is also a great way to shield yourself from intimacy. (JK, if you stuck with him into the later seasons, you learned that you can still find your dream job when you’re well into your 30s, even if it brings up some uncertainties. Granted, it requires careful planning, but it’s an option.)
Sometimes in adult life what you really need to do is be flaky and even a little bitchy. Sure, she wasn’t exactly justified, but if you’re looking at the lesson on a broader scale, you’re allowed to not show up to things just because you feel obligated, and you’re allowed think about yourself first sometimes. (Though Ursula’s lessons really shouldn’t be applied to how you treat your family.)
She taught us that people will still love you even if you have a comically ridiculous laugh.
Sometimes the love you desperately want to work out doesn’t, and the only thing you can do is try to accept it and move on. Other than proving that mustaches can be sexy on the right face, Richard proves that no matter how much you care about someone, if you don’t want the same things down the road, it might not be the right fit.
If you want to represent clients that don’t suck, you need to be better at your job than Estelle. Like her client, Joey, Estelle taught you something by being a cautionary tale. She is the textbook definition of someone who is just not good at her job. Don’t be like that.
11. MR. HECKLES
He taught you that sometimes you need to say “fuck it” to the world and be as grouchy as humanly possible. Honestly, Heckles is probably one of the more realistic characters on Friends — which is a sad statement — because he’s hella rude.
Gunther taught you to take chances on love because he proves that if you don’t, you’ll end up pining for one of your employees for a cool 10 years and will never date anyone else. Sure, part of the fact that he wasn’t getting around too much was probably the fact that he insisted maintaining an unnaturally blonde, prickly coiff, but I think the lesson here is still, if you love someone say so, but don’t do it creepily.
Mike taught us a lot of things. First, he reminded us that early 2000s Paul Rudd was not sore on the eyes. And he also taught us that you don’t have to be a serial dater (or a serial monogamist) to find love. In fact, your background doesn’t have to be tidy and you can have relationship baggage (he was divorced and Phoebe had never been in a long-term relationship) and still meet your match at any time.