We're quickly learning that season 2, episode 6, "The One With The Baby On The Bus," was among the most important Friends eps in the entire series. Not only is it where "Smelly Cat" made its debut, but it's also where a major character accidentally appears as an extra.
In this episode, Phoebe learns that Terry, who owns Central Perk, has replaced her with a professional musician named Stephanie. As a result, she has no choice but to play outside the coffee shop on the street, leaving her guitar case open for anyone walking by to give her some change, maybe even a dollar.
But one man passing by accidentally drops a condom in her guitar case. When he later returns to retrieve it, all well-versed Friends authoritarians will see that it's the same actor who later plays Phoebe's brother, Frank (Giovanni Ribisi). You can see the scene starting at 12:24 in the clip below.
Once we realised this, our minds naturally went to conspiracy-theory mode. Surely this condom is significant, and the casting of Ribisi as both the rubber-dropping dude AND Phoebe's estranged brother is no coincidence. The condom must have been a plot device so that Phoebe and Frank's relationship is implanted in our brains, so that when she meets him "for the first time" as her brother in season 3, we believe it. And the fact that it's a condom must be foreshadowing, considering Frank eventually asks Phoebe to be a surrogate for him and Alice. Yes, we've got you all figured out, Friends!
Alas, after speaking to Betsy Borns, one of the show's writers, we learned it was actually not intentional at all. “He was an actor that was used by the executive producers before," she told us. "They liked him, so they decided to use him more because they liked working with him.” That was enough to get Ribisi the small role as Condom Boy, and maybe they thought no one would notice when he came back as a major character? Remember: Season 2 aired in 1995. So, a whole year would have gone by before we met Frank Jr. in 1996. And, at a time when you couldn't Google or binge your way through previous seasons, it's totally reasonable to assume the audience wouldn't realise.
So, it really wasn't foreshadowing? “No. It was just one of those things," Borns said. Fine, but don't think we didn't notice y'all replaced Carol with a different actress after the first couple of episodes. We saw that.