Friends characters have multiple boyfriends over the course of the series before finally hooking up with someone in particular. In Phoebe’s case, however, the series uses the same story twice.
Over the course of 10 seasons, viewers followed Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, Joey, Rachel and Ross through many ups and downs and saw them deal with various issues, with a special focus on their personal lives.
They each dated multiple people over the course of Friends, and while most weren’t bad people or toxic relationships, in some cases there were certain patterns that shouldn’t have been repeated.
This is the case with Phoebe, who, before meeting her husband, Mike Hannigan (Paul Rudd), dated several men, but the writers of Friends repeated the same story in two of their relationships, and it was controversial: Phoebe having stalker boyfriends, Malcolm ( David Arquette) and Eric (Sean Penn), both in love with their twin, Ursula.
Of the main characters in Friends, Phoebe had the most complex and tragic backstory as her foster mother killed herself, her stepfather was arrested, her real father was never around, she didn’t know her real mother until she was adult and lived on the streets as a young man.
It’s not surprising, then, that Phoebe repeated certain unhealthy patterns throughout Friends, and this was mostly reflected in her romantic relationships. Phoebe didn’t have a good relationship with Ursula either, so her dating two of her boyfriends, who were also quite stalkers, was controversial and scary.
The first was Malcolm in Season 3 of Friends, who Phoebe met at the subway station while following her because he mistook her for Ursula.
Malcolm was obsessed with Ursula and she even had a restraining order against him, but he still stalked her all the time. Phoebe tried to help him and fell in love with him, but when she learned that Malcolm was still chasing Ursula, she finally broke up with him.
The episode was controversial as not only was it out of character for Phoebe to date someone as dangerous as Malcolm, but it also sent a bad message to the audience.
Sadly, the story was recycled (albeit to a lesser extent) when Phoebe met Eric on Friends in Season 8.
Eric was Ursula’s fiancé and met Phoebe at Monica’s Halloween party, but after she exposed Ursula’s lies, Eric broke up with her and started dating Phoebe. Eric got Phoebe’s phone number with the help of a police officer friend, and while that might not be as stalking as what Malcolm did, it’s not normal either.
Eric even mentioned that he had trouble looking at Phoebe because she obviously reminded him of Ursula and it made him angry, but once again, Phoebe decided she could help him recover.
Phoebe’s relationship with Eric also ended because of Ursula, as Eric slept with her thinking she was Phoebe, and they broke up because their relationship was too awkward.
Friends and its latest revival, Friends: The Reunion, is available on HBO Max.
A refugee from a galaxy far, far away, I landed on this planet in sector 2814 by mistake. Thanks to my passion for films and series, I was taken to the Film and Audiovisual course and I am currently venturing into the Faculty of Journalism.