Even if you're the biggest Friends fan there is, you have to admit that the show didn't always do the best at sticking to realism. Take the size of the gang's apartments, for instance, or the fact that none of these six New Yorkers were ever once seen taking the subway. But by far the most ridiculous aspect of the show has to be the characters' financial situations. Fans have tried time and time again to explain away the show's ridiculous take on how the group afforded their activities, but despite the effort, no one's been able to justify why a masseuse, an actor, a waitress, a chef, a paleontologist and an IT guy could could have those jobs and live the lives they did.
Yet while all six of the main cast had questionable money situations, it was Joey's finances that raised the most eyebrows. He was a struggling actor/part-time waiter who had the world's worst agent and a tendency to forget auditions, but did he have to give up the apartment? Take on another job? Stop asking women on so many dates? Of course not —that would've made for boring TV! Although it doesn't make much sense, here's how much money Joey would've likely made in his jobs:
The minimum weekly salary for an Off-Broadway actor is around $500-$900, and presumably, it was substantially less back in the '90s. The actual amount depends on the number of seats filled, and it's safe to assume that Joey's theater gigs in Pinocchio remakes and musical versions of Freud! weren't exactly sell-outs. So say his average play went on for a month, and Joey earned $300 a week — that's only $1,200.
Remember when Joey made everyone think he had had V.D.? It was all because of a modeling gig he took when he needed some extra money, but unfortunately, the job probably wasn't worth his time (and not just because his family thought he had an STD). The average model makes about $13 dollars an hour, so let's say that back in the '90s, it was closer to $8 or $9. Maybe the shoot took a day, max — that's only about 80 bucks in Joey's pocket for an ad that almost ruined his life.
The minimum wage in New York during 1997 was $4.25. Add on tips, subtract the free food, and Joey probably took home around only about $50-$60 a day.
While it varies by clinic (seriously, the things I google for Friends...), a sperm donor can expect to make about $20-$30 a specimen (so perhaps $16 during the '90s). So if, say, Joey donated twice a week for a month, that's $128. Not the best profit, especially when you consider the fact that his sperm wasn't even that popular.
Starring on a Soap Opera
Starring on Days of Our Lives is the only believable explanation for how Joey could have afforded his life. As Dr. Drake Ramorey, Joey, an unknown actor, probably began the series making only around $400 an episode (about $700 in today's money). By the end of his run, however, he could've made closer to $900 an episode. In a 260-episode season, that's $234,000 — enough to afford all the sandwiches a guy could eat.