Ah, Jan. 1! It’s the optimistic start to your well-meaning New Year’s resolutions or a day to sleep off the last mistakes you made before the ball dropped at midnight. While we think both are excellent ways to kick off 2015, we suggest a third option: a Friends binge-watching marathon.
The iconic series hits Netflix on New Year’s Day, so we’ve compiled the definitive guide for the must-see episodes that defined the 10-year sitcom. Grab a Central Perk-approved cup of coffee, pivot back into bed and queue up these 14 episodes, listed in chronological order for your viewing pleasure.
1. "The Pilot" - Season 1, Episode 1: The Friends pilot had us from the moment Rachel burst into Central Perk in her wedding dress. It’s chock full of delightful gems that immediately tell us about the characters we’re going to fall hard for: Phoebe trying to cleanse Ross’ aura, Rachel comparing herself to a shoe, Monica dating Paul the Wine Guy, Ross grabbing a spoon. But the best moment of all? Monica hugging Rachel and exclaiming, "Welcome to the real world. It sucks! You’re going to love it." Ain’t that the truth.
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2. "The One With the Prom Video" - Season 2, Episode 14: We could watch this episode for the ‘80s flashbacks alone (That hair! Those dresses! Monica’s fat suit!), but it’s the end of the "Will Rachel and Ross finally get together?" saga that makes us happy. The old VHS tape leads to a heartwarming kiss, and now we know Ross really is Rachel’s lobster. We also can’t forget that Joey and Chandler become Bracelet Buddies, which is one gaudy step above that BFF necklace you still have at your parents’ place.
3. "The One Where Eddie Moves In" - Season 2, Episode 17: Phoebe was stoked when a record producer wanted to make a music video for "Smelly Cat," which we still contend is one of the catchiest songs ever written. Turns out the music producer only wanted to use Phoebe as the pretty face -- when the video comes out, it’s a different voice belting out "Smelly Cat." Phoebe, we hope you kept the necklace from the video though. Those pearls were fabulous.
4. "The One With the Embryos" - Season 4, Episode 12: Considered one of the best episodes of the series, Phoebe -- trying to be a surrogate for her half-brother Frank -- has a heart-to-heart with a petri dish of embryos. Back at Monica’s apartment, Chandler and Joey are convinced they know Monica and Rachel better than the girls know them. Ross puts together a guessing game to see who’s right, and Monica keeps upping the wager. To Rachel’s dismay, Monica ends up betting their apartment -- and losing. On the bright side, we learned that Chandler’s TV Guide is sent to a Miss Chanandler Bong and that no one actually knows what he does at his work. Plus Ross’ game is so fun we’re jealous we couldn’t play with them!
5. "The One With Ross’ Wedding: Part 2" - Season 4, Episode 24: Chandler and Monica sleep together! Rachel flies to England to tell Ross she loves him! Ross says Rachel's name instead of Emily's at the altar!
6. "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" - Season 5, Episode 14: Thank you for moving out, Ugly Naked Guy! Now Chandler and Monica don’t know we know that they know we know that Phoebe, Rachel and Joey all know. Phoebe and Chandler trying to out-flirt each other until the other one cracks is as delicious as the ice cream Ross shared on the couch with everyone’s favorite nude neighbor.
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7. "The One With the Cop" - Season 5, Episode 16: Ross screaming "Pivot!" while forcing Chandler and Rachel to help him move is one of the most memorable moments from the entire series. Don’t believe us? Try moving and see if you don’t yell it in nostalgic solidarity.
8. "The One in Vegas: Parts 1 & 2" - Season 5, Episodes 23 and 24: This has everything we could ask from a very Friends Vegas: Joey terrifying his hand twin (a subdued Thomas Lennon) with help from Phoebe’s alter ego, Regina Phalange; Ross drawing a semi-permanent mustache and beard combo on Rachel’s face that cannot be scrubbed off; and Chandler betting Monica to roll another eight at the craps table so they’ll get married that night. But the best moment comes after a drunk Ross and Rachel stumble out of a casino chapel. Viva Las Vegas!
9. "The One That Could Have Been: Parts 1 & 2" - Season 6, Episodes 15 and 16: After finding out that her ex-fiance Barry is getting divorced, Rachel wonders how different her life would have been if she ended up marrying him. The whole gang starts pondering how different their lives could have been if they had just made one choice differently along the way. This "what if" two-parter is delightfully spot on: Fat Monica is dating boring Dr. Roger, a very Long Island Rachel wants to cheat on Barry with soap opera star Joey, Ross is going through a sex dry spell with Carol and unemployed comedy writer Chandler becomes Joey’s assistant. Opposite Phoebe is the best though: She’s a Wall Street exec who loves her job and yells and smokes her way through a heart attack. If Twilight Zone Friends had been a series, we would've watched that for a decade too.
10. "The One With the Proposal: Parts 1 & 2" - Season 6, Episodes 24 and 25: We never thought we’d see Richard again, but there he was, ruining Chandler’s attempt to propose to Monica by showing up at the same restaurant. To throw Monica off the engagement scent, Chandler tries to convince her that he hates marriage, which went off without a hitch thanks to Richard. But it’s okay guys! In the sweetest move ever, Monica filled the apartment with candles to surprise Chandler. We can’t stop crying -- and it’s been 14 years.
11. "The One With Monica & Chandler’s Wedding: Parts 1 and 2" - Season 7, Episodes 23 and 24: Yes, another season finale wedding, but stay with us: This double episode features Joey co-starring in a World War I movie with drunk, over-enunciator Richard Crosby (Gary Oldman) and Monica’s dad asking Chandler’s mom, "So are you his mother or his father?" Most importantly, Monica and Chandler finally get hitched and we find out that Rachel is pregnant. But... who’s the daddy?! (Ross. It’s obviously Ross. We know it was supposed to be a cliffhanger, but c’mon.)
12. "The One With the Rumor" - Season 8, Episode 9: This is a semi-controversial pick, because all of the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends are great. "The One With the Thanksgiving Flashbacks" graces us with the goodness of Chandler losing a toe and Miami Vice suits. "The One With the Football" shows us just how badly Monica will try to win anything, even a friendly football game in the name of Geller family tradition. But this one? This one has Brad Pitt. Enough said.
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13. "The One Where Rachel Has a Baby: Parts 1 and 2" - Season 8, Episodes 23 and 24: Poor Rachel went through 47 hours of labor and watched five women, including the Evil Bitch (played by the always fabulous Debi Mazar) and Chandler’s ex Janice, get wheeled in to the delivery room before she did. But then we meet Baby Girl Geller-Green! Also, Joey accidentally proposes to Rachel with Ross’ grandmother’s ring, but back to the baby because she’s super cute!
14. "The Last One: Parts 1 and 2" - Season 10, Episodes 17 and 18: If you didn’t need tissues when Monica and Chandler brought home the twins, or Ross ends up at the wrong airport but catches Rachel at the right one, or Chandler and Joey crack open the foosball table, or Rachel changes her mind about moving to France, or the whole gang leaves their keys on the table as they say goodbye to Monica’s apartment, then your heart is made of stone. Okay, that was harsh, but listen: That was a lot of things to need tissues for, and nobody likes to say goodbye. Nobody!
Thanks for an amazing 10 years, Friends! We will now spend all of 2015 binge-watching you -- and by that, we mean we’ll be done with our first re-watch by next week. No sleep ‘til Manhattan!