In the 17 years since its 10th season finale, the creators and cast of Friends have resisted the temptation to cash in. They could have returned with a one-off, 10 years later season or even a movie. But it never happened. So the much-hyped Friends: The Reunion, which premiered on HBO Max in the US and Sky One in the UK last week is likely to be the best Friends fans are ever going to get.
Running between 1994 and 2004, Friends is one of the most popular shows of all time. A worldwide phenomenon that is still regularly repeated on television and is reportedly drawing big streaming numbers to Netflix. It won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy for its eighth season and made superstars out of Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courtney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matt Le Blanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler) and David Schwimmer (Ross).
Given that, there was understandable excitement for the Friends: The Reunion. In truth, the Reunion was a bit of an odd format. Part behind the scenes documentary with talking heads contributions from creators David Crane and Marta Kaufman and executive produce Kevin S. Bright. Part chat show as James Corden interviewed the main six. Part sketch show as the actors recreated some of the most iconic scenes. At times it was seemed a bit awkward, a bit staged. Yet in other moments it was really special to see the gang back together again.
Here are FinalBosses favourite bits from the Friends: The Reunion…
Lisa Kudrow’s Laugh
Anyone who’s ever seen a Friends bloopers reel will have heard Lisa Kudrow laugh. And it is amazing and was on full show here as she enjoyed herself immensely both in chatting with James Corden and in the table reads.
Matt Le Blanc’s Shoulder
‘The One Where No One’s Ready’ is a cracking episode from season 3 that sees Joey and Chandler arguing about a chair. In one take as Le Blanc dived for the chair, he dislocated his shoulder. The gang viewed the take for the first time and cringed as Le Blanc’s arm was left dangling at wrong angles.
From ‘The One With The Cop’ comes one of the shows iconic scenes. Ross needs to get his new sofa upstairs to his new apartment. Rachel and Chandler are along to help. The sofa does not fit well up the stairwell. Lots of calls of ‘Pivot!’, ‘Pivot!’, ‘PIVOT’!. The Friends Reunion outtake of those three losing it as the scene was being filmed was a joy. As was the discussion about how the scene came alive from what was written on the page. Good to know they enjoyed it as much as the viewers!
Monica and Ross’ parents, Jack and Judy Geller are two of the best ‘other’ characters on the show and it was great to see the two veteran actors who portrayed them in the audience. Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles are both in their eighties but showed up to speak about their time on the show and the closeness they felt with the cast. One of the most heartwarming moments on the Friends: The Reunion.
The ‘A-list’ Guest Stars
The Friends Reunion served as a reminder of the show’s power to draw mega-movie stars in for guest appearances in a way that doesn’t seem to happen so often now. Julia Roberts, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis all appeared on Friends. Reese Witherspoon, who played Rachel’s sister Jill, spoke about how much of a buzz it gave her to appear on the show.
As well as many great characters, scenes, and dialogue Friends also had a great wardrobe department, never afraid to put the cast in memorable outfits. The Friends Reunion showed off some classic clothing with a runway show featuring Cara Delevingne, Cindy Crawford, Justin Bieber and of course, Matt Le Blanc as Joey wearing everything Chandler owns.
‘The One With Phoebe’s Embryos’ is often regarded as one of the best episodes of the show. Ross hosts a quiz that pits Monica and Rachel versus Chandler and Joey which eventually results in the boys winning the right to live in the girls’ apartment. The classic ‘how well do you know your friends’ game was recreated on Friends: The Reunion. There was a couple of twists with Phoebe, who was absent for the original quiz, joining the girls and all-new questions. Still brilliant, and still no one knows what Chandler Bing’s job is.
Jen and David
The biggest revelation from the chat with James Corden was the confession from Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer that they had a mutual crush on each other during the first season. As Ross and Rachel were getting to know each other so were the actors! They seemed surprised to find out their on-set flirting had not gone unnoticed by the rest of the cast but revealed the relationship never got off the ground due to commitments to other people. Must have been weird for those other people if they were watching! Imagine how massive that story would have been if it had happened though! Remember this was the mid-90s, the internet was in its infancy and long before social media but newspapers and magazines would have been all over it!
FinalBoss Final Thoughts on Friends: The Reunion
Despite the slightly weird format, this was definitely a treat overall. The finale was a long time ago and a fine way to leave things so this was perhaps better than trying to recreate the magic and doing a proper episode. If you’re a big fan of the show you would definitely find something to enjoy in seeing the cast back together again!
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Shaun is FinalBoss’ most prolific cinephile. If he hasn’t seen it, it ain’t worth watching. You’ll find him writing about everything from blowout blockbusters to small-screen splendours as he waits impatiently for Lord of the Rings to be released by Amazon. Catch up with Shaun and see what he’s been watching on www.letterboxd.com/shaun_1982.