The Unsung Story Of Janice On ‘Friends’

by Caroline Gerdes

Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross… and Janice? Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that there was a seventh friend, and it was Janice. Sorry, Gunther. Just like the rest of the Friends gang, Janice grew up, survived her 20s, and lived happily ever after. Fans know this because she even got her own conclusion at the end of the series. To boot, girl even got a decent slice of character development. Yes, Janice from Friends evolved throughout the show, too.

Unlike the other extraneous pals of the Friends, Janice made an appearance or had a story arc in every season. That’s right, viewers could see Janice grow up right before their eyes from the first season to the last. But unlike the core group, Janice’s story often went uncelebrated or was broken up based on how her story affected the main group of Friends. And I don't know about all Friends fans, but it certainly left me asking, "What about Janice?"

It’s been over 20 years since the world met Janice Litman Goralnik. But the spotlight has yet to really shine on the big-haired, nasally former Mattress Queen, who was famous for taking the lord’s name in vain. OH. MY. GOD. Has it really been that long since we last saw her? Well, Janice, I’m here for you (*four claps*). Here is the unsung timeline of Janice on Friends, from Season 1 to 10.

Season 1: Endearing And Underappreciated Janice

The first time fans meet Janice, a woman Chandler has a history with before the show even begins, he is breaking up with her. Even though she is super sweet and buys him Rocky and Bullwinkle socks. OK, she kind of cackles and is obnoxious, but she seems like a good person. Chandler then proceeds to dump Janice on two consecutive romantic holidays, New Year's Eve and Valentine’s Day, despite the fact that Janice once again has a nice present for him: candy hearts that say “Chan and Jan Forever.” Can we take a minute to acknowledge what a thoughtful gift-giver this woman is? Like the together, animal-print-clad lady she is, Janice takes Chandler’s Valentine’s break-up very well. Janice sees the situation for what it is. Chandler is immature and keeps running away. But true to form, Janice explains this to him while imitating a foghorn. I find this endearing.

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Season 2: Wifed-Up Janice

When Chandler considers his own mortality after the death of Mr. Heckles, he calls Janice. Jeez, Chandler, she isn’t just sitting around waiting for your next crisis or holiday. Anyway, Janice shows up at the coffee house to meet Chandler. But it’s obvious she wasn’t pining for Mr. Bing — Janice is pregnant and married to the man we later learn to be the Mattress King. At the end of the second season, however, Chandler meets an unhappily married woman online, who turns out to be Janice. OH. MY. GOD.

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Season 3: "She's His Lobster" Janice

At the start of Season 3, Janice and Chandler are going strong. It seems they could be lobsters. Joey is rude to Janice because he can’t get past her loud laugh and chartreuse pantsuit. Janice can’t help it if she isn’t for everybody. You do you, girl.

This Season 3 relationship is pretty stable for a while. She seamlessly hangs out with the group, Chandler has a commitment freakout because he realizes he loves her, and the hug-and-roll fiasco happens. But Janice begins to have feelings for her estranged husband again, and Chandler nobly bows out so they can have another shot at being a family.

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Season 4: "15 Yemen Road, Yemen" Janice

Chandler runs into a divorced Janice in a nail salon. Instead of being an honest adult, he tells her that he is moving to Yemen. The situation escalates to Janice helping him pack up his apartment and tearfully bringing him to the airport.

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Season 5: Ross + Janice

Ross sleeps with Janice when he is spiraling after his divorce. But he is too annoying for shrill Janice to handle. Janice also expresses guilt for sleeping with Ross while Chandler is in Yemen. She loves Chandler and considers his feelings, despite the fact that he is lying to her. I also hate to think of the state of mind Janice is in after her own divorce, compounded with Chandler leaving. Really, what would drive a woman to sleep with Ross?

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Season 6: The Ghost Of Janice

While Janice does not appear in the flesh, her least-likable quality — her voice — does make an appearance when Chandler re-gifts a romantic mixtape from Janice to Monica. This is on Chandler.

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Season 7: Picky Eater Janice

Things still don’t seem to be looking up for Janice in Season 7. She runs into Monica at Monica’s restaurant when she is sending food back. (OK, I concede, sometimes Janice can be a little Janice.) Here, Janice finds out that Monica is engaged to Chandler (who I guess is back from Yemen). In this episode, Janice is broken up with and told she can’t come to Monica and Chandler’s wedding because Chandler still has feelings for her. This is supposed to be a joke at Janice’s expense, but she’s a classy lady who promises to keep her distance.

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Season 8: Happy Janice

Janice has finally found her lobster. Hooray for Janice! Janice and Sid Goralnik are a match made in heaven, because he's partially deaf. So he only enjoys Janice’s better qualities without having to endure her nasally cackle. The gang runs into Janice while she and Rachel are both giving birth in the same hospital. Sid works fast. Janice pays a visit to Rachel, and out of her own bad divorce experience, scares Rachel by telling her she won’t be able to rely on Ross. Ouch. Janice thinks she is helping (like she did when she put Chandler on a plane to Yemen), but it’s too much. I would feel bad for Rachel, but she and the group make lots of jokes about Janice’s baby being ugly. Once again, the Friends are sort of mean girls.

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Season 9: Wise Janice

For some weird reason, Janice — who had a baby last season — is at a fertility clinic with her husband Sid. Janice isn’t afraid to deliver the tough advice to Chandler, much like she did last season with Rachel. He needs to prepare for the possibility that he and Monica may not get good results. And Janice is right. She seems to have grown up a little faster than her friends. In the beginning, she was more together than Chandler and the gang. She hit a rough patch after her divorce, but she seems to be back to her old self again in Season 9.

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Season 10: Neighborly Janice

Janice gets a happy ending in Season 10. Because she is cosmically intertwined with the group, she almost ends up buying the house next to Monica and Chandler’s new home in the suburbs. Chandler again uses the “I still have feelings for you” line to keep her away. Janice makes the decision to let Chandler live his life in peace, but not without giving him a goodbye kiss.

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Janice, you deserve a medal for putting up with this group for 10 years. Bless you.

Images: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy (5); TypicalTuesdayNight,FFFriends/Tumblr