The Surprising Success Rate Of “How YOU Doin’?”

Photo: Andrew Eccles/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images.
When you think of Joey Tribbiani, you probably think Days of Our Lives, a deep lust for sandwiches, and his defining phrase, "How YOU doin'?" It’s a line that encapsulates everything we know to be true about the Friends character, a man so confident in his looks and general appeal that he’d rarely pass up an opportunity to approach a beautiful woman. What’s funny is that "how YOU doin'" is easily Joey’s most famous quote, but he actually didn’t say it all that often. Out of 236 episodes over 10 seasons, he said it less than 20 times. It wasn’t until halfway through season 4 that he said it at all. Yet, the implication is that it’s something he’s said his entire adult life. So, for something that’s supposed to be so tried and true, how often did the phrase actually work as a pickup line? This is our investigative report. Out of 19 "how YOU doin'" lines, nine of them were successful. That means his famous phrase really only got him anywhere 47.36% of the time. That's really a terrible rate considering how much attention it gets.
Additional insights on Joey's phrase:
- 100% success rate when delivered to Joey in a mirror
- 0% success rate in his own apartment
- 100% success rate in alternate realities
- More likely to work when delivered as a package deal alongside other Joey phrases
Here's our analysis.
Season 4, “The One With Rachel’s Crush”
Rachel doesn’t know how to ask out Josh-wa, so Joey shares his surefire technique for talking up a woman. According to him, he would just look a woman up and down say, "Hey, how you doin'?" Rachel and Phoebe are skeptical, but when he tries it out on Phoebe, she can’t help but blush and giggle. Season 4, “The One With The Wedding Dress”
Joey has to go to a sleep clinic, and Chandler joins him to keep him awake until it’s time for his appointment. As Joey’s nodding off, Chandler shoves him and points out an attractive woman in the waiting room. Joey, eyes closed and barely awake, tries out his line. Except, it wasn’t really directed at anyone in particular and made him look a bit creepy. No dice this time. Season 4, “The One With Ross’ Wedding”
Emily’s bridesmaid Felicity asks Joey to “talk New York” to her. "Fuggetaboutit," he says, followed by, "How you doin'?" Her response? “Mmm,” as she pushes him against a wall and they make out. Some people just really dig accents. Season 5, “The One With The Cop”
Joey had a dream that he and Monica were a couple and decides it’s because he should be dating someone he’s friends with first. So, that leaves him Phoebe and Rachel. He tries it on Rachel, who has no reaction.
Season 5, “The One In Vegas”
Joey tries his luck on a female card dealer. Unenthused, she responds that she’s "very busy." Rough stuff, Joe. In the same episode, Ross and Rachel got pretty drunk. Joey asks Rachel, "How YOU doin'?", and when she says, "I’m doin' good, baby. How you doin'?" he promptly insists Ross not let her drink anymore. Season 6, “The One With Joey’s Porsche”
During the closing credits, two women walk by what they believe is Joey’s Porsche. "He has the most amazing Porsche under there," a woman says. As he leans against the "car" to ask how they’re doin', they see that it’s not a car at all, but a pile of boxes. Ouch. Season 6, “The One Where Phoebe Runs”
After Chandler moves in with Monica, Joey’s new roommate is Janine, a beautiful dancer. Joey, knowing he can’t cross the line between roommate and hookup partner, has pent up flirting energy from not hitting on Janine. In an effort to blow some of his steam, he tries his line on Chandler. That obviously went nowhere. Later, he decides to try it on Janine, but she simply answers, "I’m OK." Confused, Joey cries, "Oh dear God!" as if his mojo has somehow worn off. Season 6: “The One With Rachel’s Sister”
Rachel’s sister Jill is here to visit. Rachel’s introducing her to the gang, and when Joey greets her with a hearty "How YOU doin'?", Rachel cries, "Don’t!" as if acknowledging that women are powerless against it. We’re counting this as a success. If it were a failure, Rachel probably would have rolled her eyes or ignored him.
Photo: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images.
Season 6: “The One That Could Have Been”
You remember this episode, where Joey’s actually a big-time soap star and Monica never lost weight. This is also a reality where, when Joey first meets Rachel at the Central Perk, she blushes at his "how YOU doin'?" Fictional, but still a point for Joey. Season 6: “The One With The Unagi”
Technically it isn’t Joey that says it in this episode; it’s his hired look-alike Carl. His delivery is all wrong, and he fools none of the group into thinking he’s actually Joey. Season 6: “The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth’s Dad”
Joey’s stressed out because he’s unhappy with his robot counterpart in Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. But, you better believe he takes a break from complaining on set to throw his line out to a woman passing by. She doesn’t say anything, but she smiles enthusiastically and links arms with him. So, I guess that worked. Season 7: “The One With The Engagement Picture”
It's actually Tag who tries out Joey's signature line on a coworker. He says Joey taught it to him. And, it seems to be working like gangbusters for Tag. Season 7: “The One With The Truth About London”
Phoebe wonders how things would have played out if Monica had hooked up with Joey instead of Chandler. Spoiler alert: It ends up with a larger-than-life Joey addicted to Monica's cooking. The only "how YOU doin'?" is directed at food.
Season 8: “The One With The Stain”
Rachel’s talking about how she can't live with Joey after the baby's born because she doesn't want her kid's first words to be "How YOU doin'?" Season 8: “The One With Joey’s Interview”
This is just a flashback of all the times he's said it before. Season 9: “The One Where Monica Sings”
After chickening out at the waxing salon, Joey has Chandler tweeze his eyebrows for him. Delighted with the results, Joey hits on himself in the mirror. Season 9: “The One With The Mugging”
After a not-so-great audition, Joey's asking the director for feedback so he can work on his role and come back to audition again. But first, a nice "how YOU doin'?" to the producer. Cue the blush. Season 9: “The One In Barbados”
Again, Joey's trying it out on himself in the mirror. Works every time.
Or, you can watch this supercut of every time Joey said it.

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