Joey just isn't Friends

Sept. 11, 2004, midnight | By Caitlin O'Brien | 16 years, 4 months ago

Television networks are always trying to capitalize on their successes, and, oftentimes it comes out in a complete disaster. Surprisingly, Joey is actually funny. The characters are engaging and relatable, not to mention hilarious. The premise is interesting. The writing is well done. The only problem with the show is that it's just not Friends.

Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) is still the same dimwitted character as he was in Friends, only now he has more drive and more set goals. He realizes that all of his friends have grown up and now it is his turn make something of himself. To do this, he moves out to L.A. to pursue his acting career.

Luckily, he does know someone in L.A., his older sister Gina (Drea de Matteo), a hairdresser "to the stars" and mom of a 20-year-old boy. Right off the bat, she points out her fake breasts and insists that Joey touch them, which is grosser than it is funny. Gina is an outspoken, fun character who provides a Chandler-like humor. She can be silly herself, but she will make sure to point out when Joey does something dumb, which is all the time.

Gina's son Michael (Paulo Costanzo) is adorable. Yes, he is a dork, but he pulls it off well. He's down to earth and sweet but still goofy. Luckily, we will be seeing a lot of him because he is going to be Joey's roommate.

Becoming Joey's roommate was not an easy task though. Michael had been living with his mom his entire life and knew that it would break her heart if he moved out, but, like Joey, he needed to move on with his life. So he begs Joey to move in with him. At first, Joey will not let him, but when Michael makes Joey an amazing plate of spaghetti, Joey gives in. Now they have to tackle Gina, who is, of course, not okay with it. This is where the show stops being good. Joey, in a very uncharacteristic move, makes an uplifting speech about people moving on with their lives. If the pilot contains an important life lesson, what will the rest of the episodes be like?

Joey was never meant to be the character with the advice on how to live; he was the goofball, the dumb one, the ladies man. But now that he has his own series, he's older and wiser. And though that may be a good thing in real life, this is TV and we like to see our favorite characters keep the same qualities that make them our favorite characters.

Despite some of the disappointment, Joey is not a bad show. The truth is that this is one spin-off that is actually funny because it does not completely abandon its roots. Although Joey has grown up some, he is basically the same character. He just does not have those five other amazing characters to play off of. Watching a show that focuses on only one of the six friends feels, in a word, strange.

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