Before HBO Max even had a name, the streaming service snapped up the streaming rights to Friends. At the time, we were hoping the Holiday Armadillos at WarnerMedia would also gift us with those extended scenes that are currently only available to watch on the individual season DVDs of the series, but they had something even better in mind: an official cast reunion with all six Friends stars (which is delayed, but still in the works). Obviously, HBO Max knows what the Central Perk faithful really want, and they're willing to clap-clap-clap-clap up some major cash to bring it to us. But there's still one more thing they'd need to do to make the collection complete: Make Joey available to stream.
For the unfamiliar -- and, considering it's nearly impossible to watch the show nowadays, being unfamiliar with it is quite forgivable -- Joey was an actual, honest-to-goodness Friends spin-off which aired for two seasons from 2004-2006. It picked up after the events of the Friends finale with Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) moving out west to pursue his acting career in Los Angeles. There, he lived with his sister Gina (portrayed by Drea de Matteo) and nephew Michael (Paulo Costanzo) and grew close to their next-door neighbor Alex (Andrea Anders). Unlike its parent show, Joey was not an awards season darling -- far from it -- and it had a maddening lack of cameos from the rest of the Friends stars (just David Schwimmer graced the set of the show, and only in the capacity of directing two episodes).
Even if Joey is the "Smelly Cat" of the Friends universe, it's still a legitimate part of the series' history and continues a story that was left unfinished by the Friends finale -- whereas Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) got the twins and a new home in Brooklyn, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Ross (Schwimmer) decided to end their "break" at long last, and even Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) found her happily ever after, Joey's story was open-ended. There are two whole seasons of his "How You Doin'" antics out there gathering dust in the Warner Bros. TV archives, and your chances of watching them are woefully slim at the moment.
Not only is Joey unavailable to stream anywhere that won't melt your computer down with a virus, but it's incredibly difficult to get your hands on a physical copy of the show, too. There are used versions of Season 1 floating around for sale, but Season 2 copies are extremely rare (and expensive) to find. As a result, the millions of new fans who came into the Friends zone by way of its streaming availability on Netflix, and now HBO Max, are basically out of luck when it comes to watching the show, and that is, to borrow a famous quote from Joey, "whack." If you didn't catch it during its initial broadcast or snag one of those early DVD releases, it's "le poo" for you -- unless HBO Max decides to swoop in like Joey with his copy of Buffay the Vampire Layer and finally give this show a streaming home at long last. (TV Guide has reached out to HBO for comment.)
If HBO Max wants to be the streaming service equivalent to Monica's comfy apartment (it even has a purple interface!), making Joey available to the millions of Friends fans who didn't happen to catch it in its time would be the icing on the trifle.
Friends is available to stream on HBO Max. Joey is (sigh) unavailable to stream at this time.