I am Monica Geller.
I know people say things like this all the time…”oh this TV character is TOTALLY me!” “She is my spirit animal!” etc etc etc…but really. I AM Monica Geller.
Well…except for the obsessively clean part. Other than that, I’m totally her. My friends know it. Last night while watching the premiere of New Girl, I tweeted “Is it sad that I am sitting here worrying whether or not Nick and Jess have their passports?” Within moments two different friends replied “No, because you’re a Monica.” I am the mother hen in my group of friends. I’m competitive to a FAULT. I’ve been accused of being loud and/or shrill more than once (I have a resonant voice, okay?). I mourn the fact that I now live in a studio apartment (with walls that I painted purple) because it means I can no longer be the hostess. I wage a war with my inner fat girl and whether or not to let her eat on a daily basis. So I knew that when we decided to do these tributes to all six of our Friends, I had to do the Monica post. Because I am her and she is me.
I feel like Monica (and Courteney Cox’s portrayal of her) never gets enough credit. Courteney was the one cast member over the ten-year run of Friends who never got an Emmy nomination and that’s just plain wrong (And clearly she has wronged the Television Academy as she has yet to score an Emmy nod for her wonderful work on Cougar Town). As Rachel says to her as she prepares to leave for Paris, none of this would have happened without her. Monica (and her apartment) was the glue that held this little tribe together. So let’s pay tribute to our little Harmomica, shall we?
1) Fat Monica
How can you not love Fat Monica, defender of full fat mayonnaise? What I always loved about Fat Monica is that she was never played as a sad sack. Sure the visual gag of Courteney Cox in a fat suit was always hilarious, but you never felt like Monica was out right being made fun of or that her weight held her back. She was still best friends with the most popular girl in school. She still had a date to the prom (a legit date too! Not just some guy who felt sorry for her). As we see in “The One That Could Have Been”, she had boyfriends. And because it is mother effing destiny, we learn that she and Chandler would have always fallen in love, no matter what size she was.
Up until the fateful Thanksgiving that her future husband called her fat, you never got the sense that Monica was unhappy with how she was. She still had the same joie de vivre…if not more so, because she never denied herself a Kit Kat when she wanted one.
Also let’s talk about the fact that she lost the weight principally to seek revenge on Chandler (“Yeah, I mean yeah, I look great. Yeah, I feel great and yeah, my heart is not in trouble anymore! Blah, blah, blah! Y’know I still don’t feel like I got him back, y’know? I just want to humiliate him. I wanna, I want him to be like naked and then I’m going to point at him and laugh!”). THAT is why Monica is a QUEEN.
Much credit for the likability of Fat Monica goes to Courteney Cox herself. Like I said, this could have been an easy way to make fun of Monica or put her down. But Courteney imbued her with such sweetness and innocence that you couldn’t help but love her and want to be her friend. Plus, she had some super sweet dance moves.
2) Her Career Perseverance
Monica went through a lot in pursuing her dream of being head chef. Catering a party for her mother where Judy had lasagna in the freezer as a back-up for when her daughter pulled a “Monica”. Making recipes with Mocklate. Enduring an interview where she was questioned about how firm the tomatoes were and how dirty the lettuce was. Working at a cheesy 50’s themed restaurant where she had to wear flame retardant boobs. Working in a kitchen where everyone hated her and tortured her on a daily basis and where she had to hire Joey as a ringer that she could fire so she could get respect (“DRAGON!!”). But she never gave up. She KNEW she was a good chef and was capable of reaching her goals, so she endured through the crap until she got there.
3) Her competitive spirit
Remember what I said about the fact that I am competitive to a fault? Let me tell you a story. One spring break we were playing the Planet Hollywood trivia game (yes, that was a thing) and my team was losing. I was not handling it well and my friend Sam was enjoying taunting me over it. “Sam,” I said. “If you keep this up, I’m going to slap you.” Well…he kept it up. So I slapped him right across the face. And he had the nerve to look shocked.
I DID warn him.
I have also been known to shout at my teammates when they get things wrong (I am SUPER fun at game nights, y’all). So when Rachel gets the TV Guide question wrong in “TOW the Embryos”, I COMPLETELY related to Monica shouting “RACHEL!!! USE YOUR HEAD!!!”. I related to her even more at her horrified “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” when she realized she had lost the trivia game.
Monica hates losing at anything from Pictionary (hide the plates!) to Poker to her beloved Geller cup to ping-pong to merely tossing a ball around for 24 hours. Some people may call that obnoxious. I call it refusing to be anything but the best. She expects the best out of herself (“Take that last year me!”) and she expects the best out of the people around her. That’s not a bad quality to have. Go Team Monica!!
4) She always hosts Thanksgiving
Over the course of living in New York City for nearly 12 years now, Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday, because I always spend it with my friends and I always cook the big meal for them, even if it is no longer at my own apartment. I will never forget the feeling of sheer panic the first time I realized the whole meal fell to me (see also: Monica’s “It’s my first Thanksgiving!!!!” meltdown in “The One Where Underdog Gets Away”) and then the PRIDE I felt when it all turned out delicious (see also: every other Thanksgiving episode).
I think I love being in charge of Thanksgiving for the same reasons Monica does. Yes, it’s about being the hostess and being in charge (and getting your kicks from that) and using cooking skills and recipes that you don’t get use all the time. But that is not the only reason Monica hosts Thanksgiving every year. It’s also about love and expressing your love for your friends through the meal you cook for them. It’s a gift Monica gives the gang every year and she takes pride in doing that for them.
And she knows that when all else fails, you can always dance around with the turkey on your head.
5) Her love of rules and structure
There is nothing I hate more than a game with no rules. My college boyfriend once sat me down to play the computer game Myst and I was very puzzled by the fact that there was no real structure and when I asked him what the rules were, he said “Just figure it out”. Which of course made me crazy and it eventually led to a complete BREAKDOWN when I had NO idea what to do. We’re talking full on sobbing to my boyfriend when I was stuck on a level “I don’t know what to dooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. This game is STUPID,” I wailed hysterically. He looked at me like I was a crazy person (which, let’s face it, I was) and said like it was the most obvious thing in the world, “You clearly click on this brick here.” My response? “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?? THIS GAME HAS NO STRUCTURE!!!”
So yeah. I like rules. As Monica says, they DO control the fun!
Monica’s love of structure goes way beyond having 11 categories of towels and needing the marshmallows on her sweet potato casserole to be in concentric circles. It borders on obsessiveness. Everything has its place and that’s how she likes it. Her friends know that about her and it strikes fear in their very hearts.
Monica: Why is everything different?
Ross: Bye! (Runs out)
Chandler: No, I don’t see anything different other than the fact that the room got so much brighter when you came into it. (Forced laughter)
Monica: Well, the end table is wrong, The couch looks bizarre and don’t even get me started on the refrigerator magnets.
Chandler: Okay look, don’t…don’t be mad okay? But after I unpacked the boxes I wanted to do something nice for you, so, I-I-I cleaned the apartment. So I moved everything around and then I forgot where it, where it went back and I’m sorry, I’m very sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Monica: It’s okay. Chandler, are you afraid of me or something?
Chandler: Do you want me to be afraid of you?
Monica: Of course not. I mean gosh, Chandler what you did, it’s, it’s a wonderful thing and I really appreciate it. I know I have this weird thing where I want everything to be in the perfect place, but I’d never expect you to worry about that.
This is why Monica is awesome…she’s KNOWS she’s crazy obsessive and she could have very easily lost her shit on Chandler when he messed with her system. But she didn’t. She’s not heartless. As Sage just said to me, she knows what’s important and that is that Chandler tried to embrace her obsessions.
Besides…every group needs a Type-A personality and no one else in the group is motivated enough to be that person who takes care of everyone else. Monica may make everyone crazy with her obsession with structure, but when it comes down to it, she knows how to get stuff DONE. The Friends may complain about it, but deep down you know they love her for it. This is no more evident than when Monica is Phoebe’s Maid of Honor. Her hyper organization drove Phoebe nuts to the point of firing her but everything fell apart without Monica and she ended up begging her to come back and run things. And Monica pulls it off without a hitch…even dealing with a blizzard.
Basically, when you want something done, go to Monica. She truly embodies the Head Over Feels motto of getting shit DONE.
6) Her Hair Issues
Rachel’s hair got all the glory for being perfect and beautiful which left Monica to carry the torch for all of us girls who struggle with their hair on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong…Monica had great hair too. But from accidentally getting her hair cut like Dudley Moore to dealing with hair that expanded to ten times its size because of humidity, her hair struggles made her all the more relatable. And you gotta give props to a white girl unafraid of rocking some cornrows.
7) Her Sexual Knowledge
Gentleman of the world…take note.
Monica: All right, I’m gonna show you something a lot of guys don’t know. Rach, give me that pad, please? All right. Now…
Chandler: Wait, you don’t have to draw an actual wo…. Whoa! She’s hot!
Monica: Now everybody knows the basic erogenous zones. You got one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven!
Chandler: There are seven? That’s one?
Monica: Kind of an important one!
Chandler: Oh, y’know… y’know what? I was looking at it upside down.
Rachel: Well, y’know, sometimes that helps.
Monica: All right. You could, uh, start out with a little 1, a 2, a 1-2-3, a 3, a 5, a 4, a 3-2, 2, a 2-4-6, 2-4-6, 4, 2, 2, 4-7, 5-7, 6-7, 7…7…7…7 7 7 7 7 7… (mouths) seven.
Also…she’s come a LONG way from THIS:
8) Richard Burke and her willingness to walk away from him.
Let’s talk about Richard Burke for a second. Dreamboat to the nth degree, right? And he and Monica were so great together. Richard brought out a softness in Monica that we hadn’t seen before and it was amazing to see them contented and happy. They truly loved each other and Richard fit in well with the gang. All of that made the fact that they didn’t work out all the more sad.
The thing that was the most upsetting about Monica and Richard ending was that neither of them did anything wrong. Nobody cheated. They didn’t fall out of love with each other. They just realized that they wanted different things. And rather than compromise what she wanted (a family), Monica chose to walk away. Sure, Richard said he would have a baby…for HER…but Monica knew that wasn’t what he really wanted. It would have been really easy to stay in the relationship, especially when he dangled that carrot in front of her, but she made the incredibly brave choice to walk away from who she thought was the love of her life. It wasn’t easy for her, and it HURT and she mourned the relationship and feared that she was going to be alone forever and distracted herself with her jam plan. But she did it. That takes incredible strength and courage. She’s one tough cookie, that Monica Geller.
9) She’s Loud and Proud
Janine: Well y’know, he’s blah, she’s just—she’s very loud for such a small person.
Chandler: Well, why does she not want to hang out with us?!
Joey: Because she uh, she-she thinks that you are blah and that you, Monica, are too loud.
Monica: (loudly) What?!! (Quietly) What?
Monica: (from the hallway) I do not like that woman!
Joey: (shouting) I can hear you!
Monica: I AM loud!
It’s okay, Monica. I’m accused of this all the time (seriously, my Mom tells me to lower my voice at LEAST 5 times whenever I go home to visit). Sage just pointed out to me that as ladies (ESPECIALLY in the South, which is where I am from originally) we are taught practically from birth to be demure and keep our voices down. But why shouldn’t we speak up? Why shouldn’t we be loud?? Sometimes it’s REALLY hard to hide your enthusiasm with an emphatic “I KNOW!!”, all right? But at least people are always aware of what you are feeling, right? RIGHT.
10) She fell in love with Chandler Bing
The thing that was truly amazing about Monica and Chandler getting together was that it felt so RIGHT. It never felt forced or awkward or like a stunt for May Sweeps. It just felt natural. It was like “Of COURSE. This is how it was always meant to be.” That’s how the greatest love stories go.
And let’s be honest. Falling in love with your sarcastic best friend and having him love you right back? LIVING THE DREAM, FOLKS.
What is even more perfect about Monica and Chandler is that it came about organically. All über Friends fans know the lore that it was originally supposed to be Monica and JOEY at the beginning of the series. But as Chandler and Monica grew and evolved it became obvious…they were meant for each other. And everybody knew it.
Chandler: How can I not be upset? Okay? I finally fall in love with this fantastic woman and it turns out that she wanted you first!
Joey: Yeah for like a half an hour one night! Chandler, she wants you for the rest of her life! You’re so lucky! Look what I missed out on by not being there! Although you know what? It could never have worked like you guys did, ‘cause you guys are perfect for each other. Y’know, we look at you and-and we see you together and it just…it-it fits. Y’know? And you just know it’s gonna last forever.
As a couple, Monica and Chandler were the anti-Ross and Rachel, which is what the show needed. Once they were together, they were together. Sure they may fight and drive each other crazy, but you never once worried that they would break-up.
Monica: Fair? Please don’t even talk to me about fair! Fair would’ve been you wanting to marry me back then! Or fair would’ve been Chandler wanting to marry me now! Believe me, nothing about this is fair!
Even when Chandler was botching his proposal attempts and Richard was making a play for her, you never doubted that her heart was with Chandler. SOUL MATES.
And unlike some shows, where once they are paired off, they get boring, Monica and Chandler remained as interesting, if not more so, together, as they were apart. They went through a lot, from Chandler’s career change to their struggles with infertility, but once again, you never doubted that they would go through these struggles TOGETHER. If I had a relationship half as strong as theirs, I would consider myself lucky.
And all of THAT is why Monica E. Geller-Bing (and by extension ME) is awesome. What are your favorite Monica moments? Share in the comments and pray for Sage as she embarks on her 10 reasons to love Chandler Bing post…