The Daily Stream: Friends Teaches Us Custard Good, Jam Good, Meat Good!

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Series: "Friends" Season 6, episode 9 "The One Where Ross Got High"

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

The Pitch: It's Thanksgiving and you know what that means. It's time to eat all the things, complain about how you're going to have to be rolled out of the house, pass out on the couch, and discuss who screwed up what with the feast. Okay, maybe not that last part or you'll get stabbed with a turkey carving knife, but if you're a character on a sitcom, you don't have to worry about these things. You just really shouldn't try Rachel's dessert. 

Yes, I'm talking about "Friends" season 6, episode 9, "The One Where Ross Got High." "Friends" is dated. There is no doubt about that. It's very white, there are a lot of fat jokes ... it's very much of its time. There are episodes that I used to laugh at that I have to skip these days, but when it was good, it was very, very good. I've always been a sucker for sitcom holiday episodes. It's that magical time of year where you can forget about a plot being good or detailed, and just enjoy laughing at stupid lines. You know everything is going to work out, so who cares how weird it is. 

Why it's essential viewing

In this episode, Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Ross (David Schwimmer) are invited by Joey's roommate Janine (Elle MacPherson), to hang with her hot dancer friends who can't cook and will probably be drunk all day for the holiday. They want to leave right away. All the while, Monica (Courteney Cox) and Ross's parents, Jack and Judy (Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles), are mad at Chandler (Matthew Perry) for an unspecified reason. As it turns out, Ross smoked pot as a teenager and blamed it on Chandler. (Isn't it quaint how dramatic that was?) Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) has a sexy dream about Jack Gellar, and now she's looking at him differently... as he drinks condensed milk out of the can. Dreams are powerful things, y'all.

Though all the misunderstandings are neatly wrapped up at the end of the episode in hilarious fashion, it's really the trifle that Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) is making for dessert (with no backup, despite the fact that she has never been able to cook) that is the thing we all talk about all these years later. Rachel has added beef sauteed with onions and peas to her traditional English trifle because the pages in the recipe book have stuck together! ("Chandler!")

It's a simple thing, but because Ross and Joey want to leave, they have to make everyone pretend to like it by making yummy noises and rubbing their stomach. Okay, fine. It's stupid as all get out, but as someone who has messed up my share of recipes when I'm not familiar with them, it happens. I mean, the people on "The Great British Baking Show" seem to think that peanut butter and jelly is an "unusual" flavor.

Beef good!

Dated the show may be, but it was a staple when it aired. By the time we got to season 6, we knew these characters well enough to have the right reactions. Rachel is cooking? Oh no! Monica has no backup dessert? She's too worried about telling her parents that she and Chandler live together. Did Ross do something awful? Well, it's Thursday, and he sucks. Phoebe dreamed that Jacques Cousteau introduced her to his pet seahorse, who was totally hitting on her, but that's never going to happen? Just nod and move on. Monica is freaking out and gets forgiven for being really weird? That tracks. 

It's brilliant in that the audience and the writers had a shorthand that made this series funny. Would it be better if there were changes, it wasn't pasty white, and some things were switched around? Yes. However, we got what we got at the time, and "Friends" has been held up as a gold standard for sitcoms ever since. There's a reason for that. It was simple and silly. There were really no stakes, and you could tune out or focus in, and either way, you could forget the world for a bit. 

The Thanksgiving episodes were ridiculous, but so is actual Thanksgiving. We eat until we pass out, make ourselves sick enough that we complain about our life choices, watch giant balloons march down a New York street on TV for some reason, then we do it again next year.

This episode stands out because there really isn't anything to fix. No fat jokes. No uncomfortable things where you have to tell new viewers that "we try to forget about that joke" or anything. It's just fluffy, silly, stupid fun. Custard good. Jam good. Meat goooooooood

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!