After witnessing the glory of Ross and Rachel, and Monica and Chandler, Friends fans probably aren't looking back and yearning for another love story. So it may be best that Matt LeBlanc prevented Monica and Joey from having a romance. In a new excerpt of the upcoming book I’ll Be There for You by author Kelsey Miller, fans will learn it's actually LeBlanc who made the suggestion to change Joey's character from less of a pursuer into more of a friend.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the book (timely pegged to the show's 25th anniversary) is a combination of interviews, stories from cast and creators, and history to showcase Friends' impact on pop culture. The book isn't out until October, but luckily, fans don't have to wait to learn why Joey never romantically pursued Monica in a serious way.
As reportedly described in the book, cast members, including LeBlanc, started getting concerned with how creepy Joey was (recognizing he was already hitting on Rachel in the pilot). He was becoming someone people, especially the women, found all too familiar — and not in a good way. The book says the behavior "made of of the actresses a little nervous" and that LeBlanc was certain it would become an issue especially because he wasn't "That Guy" in real life. The book recounts an interview when LeBlanc said castmates started seeing him as a "brother" and that's when things shifted.
LeBlanc realized that having Joey hit on every woman, including his good friends, was neither believable nor sustainable. Eventually, audiences would grow tired of Joey's gimmicks. According to the book excerpt, LeBlanc approached Friends creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman with a "creative suggestion" to make Joey more of a fit in this group.
"Could it be that Joey thinks of these three girls as little sisters, and wants to go to bed with every other girl but these three?" LeBlanc said. "Then I’d buy that they’re friends. Otherwise, I just don’t think they’d even talk to him if he hits on them every single time."
Kauffman and Crane got the concept immediately and began making Joey a more dimensional character (while still being a goofy womanizer). But this is the change that ultimately killed the Monica and Joey romance (which Kauffman and Crane had said they'd planned from the start) before it could even happen.
Before discovering that Ross and Rachel were the real romantic gem on the show, the creators initially thought Joey and Monica were a more "natural pairing." According to the book, they seemed like the "most sexual" characters to Kauffman, which is why they originally thought Joey and Monica were a better fit.
Over 13 years since the show ended, and some fans still argue that Joey should've actually ended up with Rachel. But co-creator David Crane still stands by the decision to have Ross and Rachel end up together after their on-again-off-again relationship most fans loved. "Ross had to end up with Rachel,” he told Today in 2017. “If we had delivered anything else, I think people would have been really unsatisfied."
He explained that the brief romance between Joey and Rachel in Season 8 worked in a weird way because it was so wrong. "They weren’t meant to be together. They loved each other; they were great friends," Crane explained.
The dynamic the showrunners went with worked in so many ways. Not only did Rachel and Ross, and Monica and Chandler, get their happy endings, but Joey became such a lovable, good friend along the way. (Let's not forget the time he got totally freaked out when he thought Monica was cheating on Chandler, or when he went lengths to keep their romance a secret.)
Without attempting to court Monica, Joey became less of the annoying guy at the coffee shop and more of the teddy-bear-like friend every group needs.