Remember Joey Tribbiani, everyone's favorite dimwitted lothario from Friends? Much of the comedy surrounding his character relies on his unstoppable abilities with women, and it's one of his defining personality traits from the beginning of the series until the end. But what if I told you that prolonged childhood abuse caused Joey to become a sex-addict-turned-predator, and that the other friends even know it? Not so funny anymore, right? Okay, hear me out.
7When We Meet Joey, He's Promiscuous But Hopes For Eventual Monogamy
Remember the episode in which Joey finds out that his father is having an affair? ("The One with the Boobies") He confides in Chandler his fears about his problems committing to one woman. "You know how I'm always seeing girls on top of girls ... I always figured when the right one comes along, I'd be able to be a standup guy and go the distance. Now I'm lookin' at my dad, thinkin' ..." and he trails off, worried that he's going to follow in his father's unfaithful footsteps. (Don't you go forgetting about his father. It comes up as an important point later!)
There, now just try to forget him.
In season one, Joey still has aspirations for a long-term relationship. He starts dating Phoebe's sister Ursula, and thinks it could be something that lasts. He even pursues her after sleeping with her, which is unusual for Joey. Ursula ends up dumping Joey, so it doesn't work out. But in season one, it is definitely fair to say that Joey earnestly wants commitment, despite his pathological banging.
And here's where shit gets dark ...
6Joey's History Of Childhood Sex Abuse Is Revealed In An Arc That Is Played For Laughs
In an utterly bizarre choice, the writers of the show decided to devote the first episode of season two to jokes about a tailor who molested Joey as a youngster. Joey sends Chandler to the tailor, saying that his family has been using his services since "forever," and that the tailor did Joey's first suit when he was just 15 years old. When Chandler returns, he's outraged that the tailor made some "definite cupping" maneuvers during the fitting, to which Joey scoffs, "That's how they do pants!"
Think about this for a second. Joey's tailor has been fondling his genitals for 12 years, since he was a minor. This isn't a sitcom; this is a goddamn episode of Law & Order: SVU. Incidentally, this is not the only time that Friends made the sexual abuse of a child into a punchline. In season eight (episode 12), for example, Chandler argues that by the age of seven, most kids have seen orgies, before realizing, "Oh, was that just me?!" Children watching orgies -- hilarious!