Of course you noticed the Magna Doodle in Joey and Chandler’s apartment. But did you know that the blue toy didn’t make its first appearance on the show until the 18th episode of season three? It’s such an iconic piece of the “Friends” set that many people assume it was there from the beginning. But it wasn’t. Also, it’s been said that except for episode 18 and 19 of season three where the doodle stayed the same, what was written on the toy changed every single episode it appeared in. The reported numbers vary, but it's probably between 88 and 100 total doodles throughout the run of the show.
When it comes to the door in Monica and Rachel’s apartment the one thing everyone notices and talks about is, of course, that gold frame around the peephole. But if you angle your gaze downward just a couple inches you will see this other thing. It kinda looks like a doorknob right in the middle of the door, but what is it really? Well, thanks to Reddit we know it’s an old fashioned doorbell that works via a crank system on the outside of the door. And if you didn’t notice that, you probably didn’t notice that the guys have it on their apartment door also.
We saw the gang get stuff out of the fridge quite often, especially Joey and especially in Monica’s apartment. However, most of us probably assumed the refrigerators were just props and didn’t actually work. Well, think again because the fridge in Monica and Rachel’s place, as well as the one across the hall, were both plugged in and functioning appliances. Not only that, but while Joey’s fridge was generally pretty empty, the one in Monica’s place was usually full and stocked with stuff for the cast and crew to grab. Usually...
Ahhhh, that gold frame around the peephole. Along with the couch at Central Perk, it’s probably the prop most widely associated with the show. But how did it come about? Well, originally the frame housed a mirror that was meant to be hung somewhere on the set. However, when the mirror was accidentally broken, the show’s set designer made the fortuitous call to hang the empty frame on the door. They say that a broken mirror brings seven years of bad luck, but in this case it brought 10 years of great luck and comedy.
The poster behind the television in Monica’s apartment is a reproduction of a vintage French advertisement for children’s toys from 1885. That’s pretty interesting, but what’s even more interesting is how it ended up there. You see, originally the set decorator had an old 1900s religious tapestry hanging in that spot. However, when the show executives did a walkthrough prior to filming the pilot episode they didn’t think it fit, so he had to switch it out. And that’s when the French advertisement was brought in. And if you're wondering if they could have just left the wall uncovered, the answer is no. Because the poster was actually covering a cutout in the wall that was used to film from sometimes.
For eight seasons and 13 episodes there was one part of Monica’s apartment that was never explored. That’s right, that green door on the back wall beyond the bathroom. For all those episodes it had just stood there closed, taunting us with what might be behind it. Well, on that oh so glorious 14th episode of season eight we found out. It was a whole lot of Monica’s uncategorizable stuff. So, the door was just a closet the whole time you ask? Well, of course not. That wouldn’t be very interesting. In reality it was a door that led to the backstage area. In fact, in one episode, if you look closely, you can see someone walking behind the door during a scene.
If “Friends” took place in Hogwarts then maybe it would make sense when things just disappeared and reappeared. But it doesn’t. Which makes the beam in Monica’s apartment all that more of a mystery. You know - the one that Ross banged into running away from his angry sister. Well, consider the mystery solved. You see, while the beam was there when the show premiered, it kept blocking actors' faces in shots so it was eventually removed. But, James Burrows, the man who directed the pilot episode thought it was a nice set design element so the beam was put back whenever he directed an episode.
Remember that episode when Monica throws away some of her kitchen chairs? How about the one where she gets new chairs for the kitchen table and brings them back to the apartment? Ya, neither do we. And yet, throughout the show’s ten year run those four chairs around her kitchen table changed multiple times. Sometimes they were all different and sometimes only a couple changed. It’s as if she just kept going to flea markets and swapping out her chairs for new finds. To be honest, we’re kinda surprised Chandler never made even one snarky, and probably very funny, comment about them.
What is Monica’s apartment number? Well, if you’ve only seen the first few episodes of “Friends” then your answer to that question would be 5. However, if you only started watching later in season one than your answer would be 20. Huh? Yes. it’s true, in the pilot episode and for the first part of that first season Monica lived in apartment number 5. However, part way through the season the producer’s realized that the low apartment number didn’t match the perceived height of the apartment in the building, so they changed the number to 20. And while they were at it they changed Joey and Chandler’s from 4 to 19.
At number one we have another case of doors on a set not leading to where you think they do. So, you know those two doors on either side of the television in Monica and Rachel’s apartment? Of course you do, they lead to the girl’s bedrooms. Or do they? Well, they don’t. Just like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia (without the witches and lions), those doors lead right to the Central Perk set. Since there weren’t a lot of scenes in the bedroom, those sets were only put together when needed.