The 'Friends' Where Phoebe Is Almost Killed by Porn Barons

There is an episode in the sixth season of Friends where Phoebe and Rachel's apartment catches fire. But we're never really told what caused the blaze. Was it Phoebe's candles? Was it an effigy some noble intruder burned to forever curse Jennifer Aniston's box office appeal? Was it Matthew Perry's smoldering crack pipe?

In truth, none of the above. We submit that the fire was actually caused by vengeful porn barons.

OK, stay with us here: We know from a previous episode that Phoebe's sister Ursula does porn using Phoebe's name instead of her own. At the end of that episode, Phoebe goes to the porn company (sort of like The Electric Company, if every word they spelled was "Knuckle") and picks up all of the checks Ursula earned in Phoebe's name, which we learn from this bit of dialogue with Lost in Space's Matt LeBlanc:

Phoebe: I just went to pick up Phoebe Buffay's checks. There were a lot of them.
Joey: Nice!
Phoebe: Um-mmm, and I won't have to go there anymore because I gave them my "correct address."

So, Phoebe has just stolen from pornographers. And assuming "a lot" of checks is 10 or more, we're talking about thousands of dollars. She also made sure to tell them where she lives.


"Checkmate."

Now, let's look at what we know about the phall-anthropists Ursula works for. When Phoebe goes to visit Ursula, they're filming a scene in Ursula's apartment:

Even a terrifying pornographer would pay for a motel room rather than shoot a porno in a low-rent apartment belonging to one of the actresses (except Tom Sizemore, who is officially the most terrifying person to ever film sex). These guys must be seriously bad news.

We also know that Ursula is involved in violent crime, which we learn when Phoebe goes through her purse in a later episode:

Phoebe: (finds some papers in Ursula's purse) Not a prayer chain, but what looks like a detailed drawing of a bank floor plan.

Ursula is clearly not capable of planning a bank heist on her own -- most likely it was hatched by the same boner-peddling hoodlums that have her film pornography in her own bedroom, and she was either coerced or threatened into participating. So, these are dangerous criminals with little to no respect for women. And Phoebe has just stolen from them.

Three episodes later (which is three weeks, just enough time for those stolen checks to clear), Phoebe's apartment burns down.

But what about Rachel? Phoebe must have realized that, in giving her address to the people she stole from, she'd put her roommate in danger.

Well, one week before the fire, Phoebe just so happens to take Rachel to a self-defense class.


Classes on beating up David Schwimmer will eventually become required curriculum.

So if porn barons are behind the fire, Phoebe is on the hook for buckets of cash. But they never come after her again, meaning she must have squared the debt at some point in the series. But how?

Well, for the rest of Season 6 and then into Season 7, Phoebe moves into three different apartments. She's running. Then, out the blue, she starts spending money like crazy. Not only does she start paying Rachel's rent, but she also buys Joey a drum kit for virtually no damn reason.

We know from Ursula that twin porn is lucrative. We know that Phoebe owes pornographers money. And we know that she has no means to get that money (or the kind of money you'd need to buy a drum kit on a whim).

Therefore, Phoebe must be doing porn with Ursula to pay back the money she stole from bank-robbing pornographers.

Wait a minute ... bank robbing?

Terrifying pornographers?

This can only mean that Phoebe's apartment was burned down by Tom Sizemore.

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