21 What-ifs: This Would Happen If Friends Was Set In Mexico City
Friends is a synonym of New York. The streets, smells and slang of the Big Apple transpire in almost every scene of the show. However, one of the big missteps of the Warner Bros. sitcom was its lack of diversity: few non-white characters were given major roles, and New York seemed to be as white as a glass of milk.
In the spirit of diversity and trying to let our imagination run wild, here’s 21 what-ifs… Imagine Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe and Rachel actually lived in Mexico City, a metropolis as richly complex as New York. If the famous amigos were chilangos (slang for Mexico City dwellers) their lives would be a tad spicier and a bit more chaotic.
1. Joey would be a struggling telenovela actor
Part of Joey’s charm has to do with his constant failures as a thespian. In Mexico City he would get minor roles in period telenovelas and would have to wear ridiculous costumes and talk in old-fashioned Spanish. She would also receive a cachetada or two.
2. Phoebe would open a trendy spa in La Condesa: “El gato apestoso”
“El gato apestoso” means “smelly cat”. If you are fans of the show you get the reference. Phoebe would be an esoteric guru in trendy La Condesa, a gentrified hood full of hipsters and lovers of all things organic.
3. And she would live in Coyoacán
But Phoebe would not live in La Condesa, but in the hippie central of Coyoacan, the home of Frida Kahlo and El Hijo del Cuervo, a bohemian bar where we can totally picture her singing a tune.
4. Ross would teach at the UNAM
The Universidad Nacional is the oldest university in the continent and home of the country’s brightest minds. Dr Ross Geller would certainly lecture here. His students would think he is a snob, un fresa.
5. And he would have grown up in Satélite
This suburb has a personality of its own and its inhabitants, satelucos, often deny actually being chilangos. The Gellers would be one of the oldest families in this area north of the city, once sold as suburban paradise.
6. Monica would end up working at Pujol (one of the best restaurants in the world)
Mexico City has a buoyant culinary scene. Monica would work her way up and end up working at chef Enrique Olvera’s Pujol, which is often voted as one of the top 15 restaurants in the planet. Tacos never looked so good.
7. Chandler would take Monica rowing to the Chapultepec Lake
Rowing in this greenish lake smack in the middle of the city is a common date. It is a bit kitschy, but so is Chandler. We can imagine them tripping into the water and Monica getting a horrible allergy and ending up in hospital. Pinche Chandler!
8. Ross and Rachel would have a hot date at the top of the Torre Latinoamericana
This is one of the first high rises in the city, and Ross and Rachel could have a Sleepless in Seattle moment watching the endless sea of lights flickering below them. Ay, cositos!
9. “The one where Little Ben would get lost in Perisur”
Perisur is one of the biggest malls in the South of the city, El Sur. Rachel would babysit little Ben and lose him while window shopping and daydreaming of haute couture. He would be saved by a heroic abuelita.
10. Joey’s flirting phrase would be “Qué transa, chiquita?”
TBH Joey is a bit creepy and sleazy. His catchphrase in Spanish would sound even stickier than his famous “How you doin?”. He would rightfully get slapped a time or two.
11. Rachel would work at the Palacio de Hierro in trendy Polanco
After cancelling her wedding Rachel would work as a waiter for years and they find her dream job as a personal shopper for fresa ladies from Las Lomas and Polanco in this superfancy department store.
12. Joey and Chandler would go to Teotihuacán to try to hook-up with gringuitas
This archeological site is just an hour out of Mexico City. Whenever both of them were single, the dynamic duo would try to flirt with American tourists in their broken English, pretending to know the history of ancient Mexico.
13. Central Perk would be a hipster cafe in La Roma: Delicia Central
La Colonia Roma is one of the most traditional neighborhoods in the city. It is full of amazing colonial architecture and recently has become home of all things hipster, organic and yummy. Central Perk would be Delicia Central, a homy yet sophisticated cafecito.
14. Gunther would be an Spanish chavaruco: Pierre
One of the funniest secondary characters in the show is the manager at Central Perk. Instead of German he would be French and his name would be Pierre. He would be the epitome of the chavoruco: the stereotype of the man in his 40s or 50s who feels and acts like he is 20.
15. They would all get together on January 6 to eat Rosca de Reyes
One of the most amazing traditions in Mexico is getting together on January 6 and sharing a delicious round, donut-shaped pastry with hidden plastic or ceramic (in the fancier versions) figurines of baby Jesus. Whoever gets it is obligated to buy tamales for everyone on the Day of the Candelaria, February 2.
16. And Joey would actually EAT baby Jesus to avoid buying everyone tamales
He is a voracious eater, so he wouldn’t just eat most of the rosca, he would also swallow Jesus because he is cheap.
17. They would ALL complain about the traffic
Mexico City’s traffic was recently classified as the worst in the world, so many episodes would start with characters being grumpy, sweaty and uncomfortable after spending hours sitting in a hot car.
18. Phoebe would also open a vegan taco stand
Phoebe was ahead of her time. In the 1990s she was a weirdo, but today she would become a business mogul, particularly in trendy CDMX (Mexico City’s official name). She would open a taco stand and serve tacos al pastor made with jackfruit. Yum.
19. Joey, Chandler and Phoebe would be chairos
Mexico City is the epicenter of a social division that has deepened in Mexico between the upper-middle and upper classes and basically everyone else. After the election of the leftist AMLO as president (he starts his mandate on December 1), his supporters were called chairos. Given Joey, Chandler and Phoebe’s more modest origins, and their support for social and gender justice, they would likely belong to this camp.
20. Monica, Ross and Rachel would be fifís
On the other hand, the other three are quite privileged, so chances are they would be sort of conservative and terrified of a left-leaning government. They would proudly be fifis, a term coined by AMLO.
21. They would all have maids, so Friends would have many more characters
Social dynamics are different in Mexico and it is common for even middle-class households to hire a domestic worker. The characters in Friends would most likely have some hired help, giving the scriptwriters endless possibilities to discuss class issues and add a joke or two.