| Season 6
| Kevin S. Bright|
January 6, 2000
"The One with the Apothecary Table" is the eleventh episode of the sixth season of the American television situation comedy Friends, which was broadcast on NBC on January 6, 2000. The plot concerns Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) buying an apothecary table from Pottery Barn and trying to keep roommate Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) from finding out that she bought it from a chain store.
The episode was directed by Kevin S. Bright, written by Brian Boyle (from a story by Zachary Rosenblatt) and guest-stars Elle Macpherson in her final appearance as recurring character Janine Lecroix. The episode and producers attracted criticism for the blatant product placement present in the story.
The One with the Apothecary Table Wikipedia
After Rachel buys an apothecary table from Pottery Barn for her and Phoebe's apartment, she learns from Monica that Phoebe despises Pottery Barn and its mass-produced products, because she believes there is no symbolical history behind them. In order to keep the table, Rachel tells her that she purchased it from the flea market, making it antique in Phoebe's eyes. The plan is eventually ruined when, at Ross's place, Phoebe notices an exactly identical apothecary table, and Ross, having at first decided not to tell Phoebe, gets angry when she spills wine on a new sheet (also from Pottery Barn), and tells the truth. Things with Rachel and Phoebe work out when Phoebe falls into liking a lamp from Pottery Barn, which would mesh very well with every other piece of furniture that Rachel bought... from Pottery Barn.
Meanwhile, Joey convinces his roommate, Janine, to go double dating with Chandler and Monica; but without Monica and Chandler's knowledge, Janine criticized the whole experience to Joey, disliking Chandler's funny quotes and Monica's loud behavior. After the second double date, Monica realizes Janine's true feelings about them and the situation escalates into an off-screen fight between Janine and Monica. Joey, who was torn between his feelings for Janine and respect for his best friends, decides to break up with her, and she moves out.
Entertainment Weekly rates the episode B+, describing Janine's criticism of Monica and Chandler as inspired, and enjoying the mockery of the "omnipresent" Pottery Barn. The authors of Friends Like Us: The Unofficial Guide to Friends point out that viewers are aware that new characters will not remain on the series for long, citing Paolo, Julie, Richard Burke and Emily Waltham as examples. They further describe Janine's character as lacking personality, suggesting it is either bad writing or bad acting by MacPherson.
In a 2004 feature to mark the end of the series, EW compiled a "best product placement" list, placing this episode at number one. When questioned in 2000 about why there was product placement in the episode, Peter Roth of Warner Bros. played down the criticism by stating that the deal struck with Pottery Barn "offset the high cost of production". The episode had lasting effects for Pottery Barn; in a 2004 interview Patrick Connolly of Williams-Sonoma said the "phones light up with catalog requests every time it airs" in syndication.
This episode is cited in a study of product placement in television.