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The Forgotten Friends Storyline That Completely Divided The Group

Most sitcoms don't think too hard about how characters get money. They may have jobs, but when it comes to affording trips or wacky costume changes, they can do pretty much whatever they want without worrying about maxing out their credit cards. Even when money is usually a central issue, like in "Bob's Burgers," the protagonists can always seemingly purchase whatever's necessary to move the plot forward. Perhaps the best portrayal of this idyllic world comes in the form of "Friends."

The show famously follows a group of six friends living in New York City, which isn't exactly the cheapest place around, and getting into all sorts of mishaps while finding various forms of love. Some of them are fairly well off, like Ross (David Schwimmer) who works as a paleontologist; however, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) works as a waitress in the beginning of the series, yet she's still able to afford a lavish apartment with Monica (Courteney Cox). 

Naturally, most TV shows require suspension of disbelief, but what "Friends" fans may not remember is that this exact issue came to the forefront in an older episode. Not only did some of the characters' financial woes come to light, but it also threatened to divide them up for good until it was promptly dropped.

The one where money threatens to tear Friends apart

Season 2's "The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant" starts innocently enough. Chandler (Matthew Perry) wants to throw Ross a nice birthday party complete with a gift, concert tickets, and cake. This requires everyone to pitch in $62, which is fairly steep when you work as a struggling actor and a masseuse. Things only get worse when Monica receives a great new job and wants to go out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate. Over the course of the dinner, the group becomes divided between the ones who don't make a lot of money — Rachel, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) — and the ones who make a lot, namely Ross, Chandler, and Monica. 

This is a serious issue throughout the rest of the episode. The group even spends Ross' birthday apart because the have-nots don't want to accept any charity. The episode ends with Monica losing her new job. Everyone consoles her, and the matter never comes up again. Sure, there are storylines where characters lose jobs or have temporary money issues, but they don't get into the systemic issues the group faces where there's an imbalance of resources and power. 

There's never again an argument where the group fights about who has money and who doesn't between them. They all get along, and when people want to go out for food or take a ski trip, no one has an issue paying for it. It's probably for the best. After all, people watched "Friends" as escapist entertainment, and it would've been a bit of a bummer if Rachel could never pay her bills.