I have come across in the 11th episode of the 8th season of Friends. Here is the context:

Doug: Bing! We’re all set for tonight, 8 o’clock.

Chandler: Oh uh, as it turns out, we can’t do it. Monica has to work.

Doug: Oh, my ex-wife didn’t work, unless you call turning into her mother work. Fine. Tomorrow night then.

  • 3
    It means "The only work she did was to turn into her mother; if you would describe that as 'work'." To turn into means to become the same as. Jun 24, 2020 at 11:24
  • Thank you for the helpful comment! Could you please tell me what the "call" means there? I am confused by the usage. Jun 24, 2020 at 11:54
  • 1
    It means the same as in the simpler phrase "unless you call a shed a home." Adding some punctuation: unless you call "turning into her mother" work. In this scene, it is sarcasm. Jun 24, 2020 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


Think of it this way:

Doug: Oh, my ex-wife didn’t work, unless you call X work.

You can replace X with anything: "looking after the kids", "shopping", "bitching", "watching soap opera", etc.

In this context, Doug is saying that his wife did not "work". Doug probably thinks that something can be called "work" when it fits the traditional idea of it: going to the office, getting paid for what you do, something important, etc., etc., etc.

You can rephrase the main sentence a bit to make it easier to understand (from the comments, I see you asked about "call").

Doug: Oh, my ex-wife didn’t work, unless you think that X qualifies as real work. {or "unless you consider X to be real work"}

So, what "work" did Doug's ex-wife do? Well, his ex-wife was "turning into her mother", meaning that she was increasingly becoming or behaving like her mother. Doug didn't like it, hence, "ex-wife"! (maybe ...)

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