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Each of the Friends Cast’s Post-Friends Series, Ranked

Seventeen years ago, in May of 2004, Pheobe, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Monica and Joey sipped their last mug of Central Perk coffee and went to that great resting place for classic sitcoms. In the decade and a half since, the careers of Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox and Matt LeBlanc have all taken unique twists and turns. Some turned to movies (mostly Aniston), while others took to other TV projects in hopes that one might, however unlikely, re-capture that Friends magic. For their part, TV networks have pretty consistently looked to ride the star power of a Friends alum to new success in other ventures.

The ups and downs of the cast’s post-Friends TV shows offer an interesting history of the last 17 years of television. And while the magic of Friends was aruably most successfully captured by Netflix when they decided to start streaming the actual Friends, the fifteen series that the primary castmembers have starred in run the gamut from awful to promising to fantastic.

For the purposes of this list, we’re including only TV shows that aired in the United States and starred one of the six Friends as a cast regular.

15. The Odd Couple (CBS)

Friends cast member: Matthew Perry
Ran from: 2015 – 2017

“Matthew Perry living with a neat freak” was certainly a formula that worked wonders on Friends. But CBS’s attempt to remake the classic 1970s TV series (which itself was based on the 1968 movie, which was based on Neil Simon’s 1965 play), saw Perry take on the role of the slovenly Oscar Madison opposite Thomas Lennon as the persnickety Felix Unger, and it never quite clicked. The acting talent was certainly there (in addition to Perry and Lennon, the show boasted the talents of Wendell Pierce and Yvette Nicole Brown), but by 2015, the concept of mismatched roommates wasn’t nearly as novel as it was when Jack Klugman and Tony Randall were starring. The series ended its run after two seasons.

14. Feed the Beast (AMC)

Friends cast member: David Schwimmer
Ran from: 2016

From Dexter showrunner Clyde Phillips came this crime drama about the corrupt, often violent underbelly of… the restaurant business. Having never met an antihero it didn’t like, AMC’s vision of a dark, broody show about opening a greek restaurant starred Schwimmer as an alcoholic single father and disgraced sommelier partnering up with Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, Cloud Atlas) as an ex-con chef in deep with the Polish mob. Amazingly, the show didn’t making it past a single season.

13. Joey (NBC)

Friends cast member: Matt LeBlanc
Ran from: 2004 – 2006

Easily the most high profile of the post-Friends shows, because it was the only spin-off, Joey had some pretty huge expectations heaped on its shoulders. And its ultimate failure was a cautionary tale. Just because viewers flocked to Friends didn’t mean they’d also flock to a show featuring just one Friend. Co-starring a post-Sopranos Drea de Matteo, the great Jennifer Coolidge, and a pre-Better Off Ted Andrea Anders, the talent was there, but it failed click. NBC kept the show on for two seasons before pulling the plug.

12. Mr. Sunshine (ABC)

Friends cast member: Matthew Perry
Ran from: 2011

After four years away from TV — during which time he starred in the feature film 17 Again and not much else — Perry returned opposite fellow Aaron Sorkin alum Allison Janney in Mr. Sunshine, a sitcom about the day-to-day operations of a sports arena. Strangely enough, there was not enough inherent comedic potential in that concept to sustain the series beyond 13 episodes, only 9 of which aired on TV. Fun fact: Andrea Anders also co-starred on this show, making her the rare actress to star in multiple post-Friends projects.

11. Man with a Plan (CBS)

Friends cast member: Matt LeBlanc
Ran from: 2016 – present

Matt LeBlanc returned to network television in 2016 on a show with the simplest of concepts: working dad becomes stay-at-home dad when stay-at-home mom becomes working mom. Only on CBS could this setup feel novel, but the joke is apparently on the rest of us because it’s now in its fourth season, and still going strong.

10. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

Friends cast member: Matthew Perry
Ran from: 2006 – 2007

The infamous disaster that was Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip wasn’t bad enough to finish last on this list. There was too much talent involved, and the pilot still hold up. But the decision to turn a behind-the-scenes look at a late-night sketch show into a soapbox-y drama about everything that was wrong with television and thus America in the waning years of the George W. Bush era was so remarkably wrongheaded it often defied comprehension. Perry played a very thin gloss on Aaron Sorkin himself, which meant he was a misunderstood genius who liked to work alone and had romantic entanglements with obvious analogues for Maureen Dowd and Kristin Chenoweth. It got put to sleep before a full season had aired, but it will always be remembered for its audacity, however ill-received.

9. Dirt (FX)

Friends cast member: Courteney Cox
Ran from: 2007 – 2008

Ultimately, what actually happened on Dirt, in which Courteney Cox starred as the publisher of a sleazy gossip tabloid, was less important than the fact that it allowed Cox to shed her happy image as Monica from Friends and play something dark and twisted. Tonally, Dirt had the most in common with fellow FX aughts series Nip/Tuck, which is to say that the tawdrier the storylines, the better. Cox even lured Jennifer Aniston over to play a rival magazine editor.

8. Web Therapy (Showtime)

Friends cast member: Lisa Kudrow
Ran from: 2008 – 2014 (web series); 2011 – 2015 (Showtime series)

That the lowest of Lisa Kudrow’s post-Friends series ranks in 8th place says a lot about how well Kudrow has cultivated her career since leaving Phoebe Buffay behind. Beginning as a web series, Web Therapy starred Kudrow as a therapist pioneering a new method of treatment, which involves half-hour web sessions that are curiously perfectly packaged for consumption as a sitcom. The concept of Web Therapy allowed for a slew of high-profile guest stars, including Conan O’Brien, Rosie O’Donnell, Meryl Streep, Meg Ryan, Jon Hamm, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steve Carell, and all of Kudrow’s former Friends castmates, save for Jennifer Aniston.

7. Feel Good (Netflix)

Friends cast member: Lisa Kudrow
Ran from: 2020 – present

Comedian Mae Martin’s Netflix series cast Lisa Kudrow to play Martin’s mom, a distant and seemingly brittle woman who only appeared occasionally by video-phone through the show’s first several episodes. But a few key episodes later in the show’s first season are a great reminder why you cast an actress as talented and versatile as Kudrow in a role like this. While still developing (the show just dropped its second season), Feel Good is an engaging series, even as it trudges through some fairly well-worn story arcs about addiction and self-destructive personalities.

6. Go On (NBC)

Friends cast member: Matthew Perry
Ran from: 2012 – 2013

Sometimes referred to as Goon due to the graphic design of its title card, Go On starred Matthew Perry as a recent widower and member of a grief support group. The series was created by Scott Silveri, a writer and producer on both Friends and Joey, who would go on to create the excellent and underrated ABC sitcom Speechless. Boasting a frankly phenomenal supporting cast, including Laura Benanti, Julie White, Suzy Nakamura, Tyler James Williams, Brett Gelman, Sarah Baker, and John Cho, Go On deserved more than the one season it got.

5. Episodes (Showtime)

Friends cast member: Matt LeBlanc
Ran from: 2011 – 2017

By far the best post-Friends outing for Matt LeBlanc was playing himself (or an extreme comedic version of himself) on Showtime’s Episodes. The series followed a pair of husband-and-wife screenwriters (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) struggling to get a TV show made, who get saddled with LeBlanc as their star over their objections. Over the course of five seasons, the trio bond and squabble and experience success and failure, and all the while LeBlanc is fantastic playing a version of himself that is nothing like Joey.

4. The Morning Show (Apple TV+)

Friends cast member: Jennifer Aniston
Ran from: 2019 – present

Jennifer Aniston jumped right from Friends to the movies, so she never really established a post-Friends TV career. That is, until she and Reese Witherspoon turned the morning news game on its head to coincide with the debut of Apple TV+. Is The Morning Show good? Is it bad? Is it both? Yes and no to all three questions! What it definitely is is a collision of A-List actresses taking a big ol’ bite out of some juicy material that includes, for Aniston, singing Stephen Sondheim songs and telling off her shitty college-aged daughter. It’s a real good time, and the long-awaited second season is eagerly anticipated.

3. Cougar Town (ABC / TBS)

Friends cast member: Courteney Cox
Ran from: 2009 – 2015

In terms of network sitcoms, the best of the post-Friends series that stayed within the Friends wheelhouse was Cougar Town, a hangout series for a demographic that skewed about a decade older than Friends and thus focused on things like parent-child bonds, post-divorce relationships, adult friendships, and wine. Oh, so much wine. From the delightfully loony brain of Bill Lawrence (Scrubs), Cougar Town weathered an early backlash over its title, went on to last six seasons across two networks and, if nothing else, boosted the comedic talents of Busy Philipps to a wider audience.

2. The Comeback (HBO)

Friends cast member: Lisa Kudrow
Ran from: 2005 and 2014

With The Comeback, Lisa Kudrow officially planted a flag as the Friends cast member with the most impressive post-Friends TV career. Her performance as Valerie Cherish in the first season of The Comeback was a high-wire act, portraying the washed-up sitcom star with a maximum of cringe-y desperation, while at the same time leaving enough space for moments of disarming humanity to emerge at the most opportune of times. The show didn’t attract very many viewers, but its cult appeal was strong enough to occasion a revival season in 2014, which brought Valerie’s story to a rather poignant close, albeit after many more self-inflicted indignities.

1. The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

Friends cast member: David Schwimmer
Ran: 2016

Is it cheating to count a limited series like American Crime Story for Schwimmer, since he only appeared in the O.J. season? Maybe, but television is an ever-changing landscape whose definitions are malleable and open to interpretation. The bottom line is that Schwimmer’s performance as Robert Kardashian, loyal confidant to his good pal “Juice,” was eye-opening, delicious, unskippable television, and it absolutely represents the pinnacle — however brief — of the Friends cast’s post-Friends TV shows.

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