Friends Central

"The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS" is the fourth episode of the fifth season of Friends, which aired on October 15, 1998.


5x04 Monica dance

Monica mimicks Chandler's overly-cocky attitude about their relationship.

Rachel goes into Monica's bedroom to bring her some mail and comes out screaming over the position she found Monica waiting on her bed. Monica reveals that she has a secret boyfriend and claims it's a guy from work. Joey and Ross also show up but was supposed to be at a movie but thrown out all because Ross was yelling so loud on his phone, and a short while later, Chandler enters with a bottle of champagne. Upon seeing everyone there, he claims he wants to celebrate the fact that his office finally got wrinkle-free fax-paper. Rachel, unaware that the secret boyfriend is Chandler, asks Chandler if Monica has mentioned him and reveals that Monica told her that this guy is best sex she's ever had. Chandler is delighted with this news and goes overboard in his gloating. This annoys Monica, who threatens to cut Chandler off until he apologizes and tells her that, and if he's the best, it's only because of her. He says that he was nothing before her, but when he's with her "Oh. My. God."

5x04 Joey phone

Joey is disappointed not to be the host of the PBS telethon.

Joey wears a tuxedo believing he's hired as host for a PBS telethon, but is actually just hired as one of many phone operators on screen, even sitting outside the main camera view. Phoebe says she hates PBS because it reminds her of the miserable days after her mother committed suicide when she wrote to Sesame Street to make herself feel better (as "they were so nice when I was a little kid!") but received no reply, only a simple keychain. She even complains that Joey's telethon is selfishness masquerading as a good deed; he then retorts that having the babies also wasn't a selfless good deed since she felt good about it afterwards. When Joey insists that selfless good deeds don't exist, she promises to prove they do. Because she fails at all her attempts, she decides to donate $200 to PBS, because "they bring happiness to lots of kids whose moms didn't kill themselves", and she won the bet. However, this donations leads to Joey being the volunteer which broke last year's record, so he finally gets on TV; which makes Phoebe happy; until she realizes she is feeling good about herself and that she lost the bet.

Emily finally calls Ross who begs for forgiveness and a chance to work on their relationship. She agrees, but on the condition that Ross moves to London, but he refuses because he will be separated from Ben, and he also can't convince Carol and Susan to move to London. When Emily finally agrees to move to New York to work on their relationship there is one problem: she wants Ross to agree that he won't see Rachel anymore, which the others consider totally unreasonable. Because nobody, including Ross, has an idea how to solve this, he became desperate enough to leave the decision to a Magic 8 ball, which proves uncooperative. Not knowing about the condition, Rachel incites Ross to do whatever Emily wants, which he does.

Cast and Crew[]

Main Cast[]

Jennifer Aniston - Rachel Greene
Courteney Cox - Monica Geller
Lisa Kudrow - Phoebe Buffay
Matt LeBlanc - Joey Tribbiani
Matthew Perry - Chandler Bing
David Schwimmer - Ross Geller

Supporting Cast[]

Helen Baxendale - Emily Waltham
Gary Collins - Himself
Sandra Thigpen - The Stage Manager
John R. McLaughlin - The PBS Volunteer
James Michael Tyler - Gunther
Jane Sibbett - Carol Willick (uncut version)
Jessica Hecht - Susan Bunch (uncut version)
Charles Thomas Allen or John Christoper Allen - Ben Geller (uncut version)


Directed By:
Shelley Jenson

Written By:
Michael Curtis


Scenes in the Uncut DVD version:[]

  • Ross tries to convince Carol and Susan to move to London, to no avail.
  • Monica gives the Magic 8 Ball back to Ross after its prophecy that Chandler will not have sex that night (which turns out to be false after the two of them make up). Ross asks again if he should never see Rachel again and Rachel walks into the room at that moment and wants to know what the question to the 8 Ball was. Ross says he asked if Rachel will get to pick the movie they are going to see tonight. The answer turns out to be yes and Rachel ecstatically proclaims "Looks like Stella's gonna get her groove back tonight!" She is unaware that she has also just answered the question Ross asked before she came in (which also turns out to be wrong.)
  • After returning to Central Perk, Monica and Chandler sit down and comment about the sex they just had. The uncut DVD episode then shows them sneaking back through the door to have sex again.

Magna Doodle:[]

  • "Evil Joe". This is in reference to Joey after he'd told Phoebe there was no Santa Claus.


  • Joey shows an unusual amount of intellectual prowess in this episode, specifically over Phoebe. He knew that Santa didn't exist, that no selfless good deed existed, and that a bee would die after stinging something, all of which Phoebe didn't know.
  • This is the last time Rachel is seen in Ross' first apartment. While it's unknown if she ever visits his second apartment, the next apartment belonging to Ross she visits is Ugly Naked Guy's apartment where Ross moves later in the season.
  • The knock Rachel uses on Ross' door is the same one she uses on Danny's door in "The One With The Yeti".
  • The studios where Joey does the telethon is Unitel Video Studio 55, located in Manhattan. Until 1991, it was the home of Children's Television Workshop who produce Sesame Street, hence Phoebe's reference to the show.
  • The piece of music playing when Monica and Chandler sneak into Central Perk is an excerpt from the ballet Sylvia (1876) by Louis Merante and is played by the Razumovsky Symphony Orchestra.

Thoughts and Continuity[]

  • It is very coincidental that every time Phoebe calls the PBS Telethon she only gets through to Joey every time even though there are at least ten other volunteers.
  • Even if Phoebe's donation hadn't gotten him on TV, all Joey would've had to point out is that the motive for her deed was to beat Joey and prove her point. In fact, any deed she completed with that motive could be said to lack altruism.
  • Chandler expresses to Monica that she is the one who made him the best sex she's ever had. This is actually true, as he is referring to the time she taught him about hitting all of the seven erogenous zones in a woman to dramatically improve his sex life with Kathy in "The One With Phoebe's Uterus", who would be the last ever serious relationship he had before Monica.
  • Monica and Chandler sneak into Central Perk from the inside door and are trying to act nonchalant. In an attempt to do so, Monica is shown picking up a coffee mug that was left behind by the previous customers. For a cleanliness freak like Monica its unusual so she must be so busy pretending that she did not think before taking a sip from it. Was the coffee Monica's from before they went in the closet? The reason that the Friends always have their spot at the coffeehouse is because their spot is truly theirs. You can see the RESERVED sign on the coffee table in most episodes. In fact it is on the table in this scene.
  • Ross' year of birth is inconsistent. In "The Pilot" (1994), Ross says he is 26, implying he was born in 1967. Also, in "The One Where Monica And Richard Are Just Friends" (1997), he says he is 29. However in the next season in "The One Where They're Going To Party" Ross also says he is 29, implying he was born in 1968. Furthermore, in this episode Ross says he is about to get divorced again before he's thirty, implying he is still 29 and born in 1969. Also, in "The One With The Video Tape", Ross claims that he backpacked across Europe in 1983 then whispers to himself "I was thirteen?", implying he was born in 1969 or 1970. This inconsistency happens with all main characters in the show.


  • When Susan and Ben come in, they knock, even though its Susan's apartment.
  • At the beginning of the episode when Rachel is going into Monica's room, she is wearing closed-toe heels. However, when Rachel bursts out after seeing Monica waiting for Chandler, she is wearing open-toe heels.
  • Monica comes to get her pan back from Chandler, and when she opens the door, the magna doodle pen is hanging down. The shot changes and it is attached to the board; it changes again and it is hanging once more.
  • When Joey enters Monica's apartment, she's holding the mug by the handle but when the shot changes Monica's not holding it by the handle.

External Links[]

Episode Navigation[]

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Preceded by
"The One Hundredth"
The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS Followed by
"The One With The Kips"