There has never been a stronger need for a reunion of any television program or movie characters than that of friends. However, few television programs or movies have seen such success. At one point in the meeting session, presenter James Corden tells six middle-class members that their show has been viewed more than 100 billion times across all platforms. The number puts their head around.
With so many people still in love with the show, there was so much that could be ruined. Do you remember what happened to Joey, a short life centered on Matt LeBlanc’s character? It is understandable why HBO Max did not want to risk everything by exploring new approaches to the stories of Rachel Green, Ross Geller, Chandler Bing, Monica Geller, Phoebe Buffay and Joey Tribbianni. Instead, it’s safe to simply get Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and LeBlanc to sit on a single orange couch and visit a few episodes from the start of the show. They know that everyone loves the return of friends. We have watched it 100 billion times.
Creators Martha Kauffman and David Crane tell the story of how each character was found and brought to the board. How David’s voice inspired Ross’s character, how Lisa was seen in another show he was doing, that Matt was the perfect combination of good looks and humorous moments, how Courteney chose to be Monica rather than Rachel; and exciting news you already know thanks to the many BuzzFeed articles and WatchMojo videos.
While the missed opportunity to take the creative approach, perhaps even shocking, the end result doesn’t feel as disappointing as I expected. In addition to the minds behind the episode, credit mostly goes to six stars.
This episode is actually a long ballad of their honor. The first scene shows them, now in their 50s, stepping back to the redesigned sets, with tears in their eyes almost immediately. They touched the sofas, shared hugs, and revisited memories shared in 20-year-old sets. The first kiss may seem difficult – Lisa looks almost like a Phoebe when you see her wearing a black shirt and apart from her usual Luna Lovegood spirit, Matthew seems to be trying to talk as little as possible. But as soon as David starts the trivia game, Courteney turns his face to Monica, Lisa cries as an insect flies through her hair and Matthew finds a sarcastic joke to seduce her, knowing she’s back in the 90s again.
They read about their scenes, played a blooper reel, shared stories of broken shoulders and how Ben Stiller and the duck broke everyone. Of course, all of this would only make sense if you were a fan of the show. Many episodes and lines of great buildings were updated as creators and actors looked back. What difference does it make to a GenZ, Riverdale lover that Monica and Chandler’s love was based entirely on the audience’s response? The meeting episode has a lot of stories to share but only in the eager ears.
The characters can be heard with countless famous cameos and thankfully, that’s just what they are. No one is trying to be a star, except Lady Gaga for her translation of the Smelly Cat, but she is also able to soften your heart as she thanks Lisa for representing the children who can’t ‘come in’. Major stars such as Justin Bieber, Cindy Crawford and Cara Delevigne made a small appearance and those who joined via video messages – Reese Witherspoon, David Beckham, Kit Harrington – appear to be so passionate fans of the show that their testimony does not make it seem plausible.
Cran says that at one point friends came to him when he and Martha were in their early 20’s, living in New York. He said that was a time in human life when most of us lived alone and away from our families. Our friends are all we have. That means ‘Friends in one line,’ he said.
Age is also a factor for many people around the world. I know people, very similar to what the BTS said in their testimony, who learned English watching Friends on TV; and others who have experienced separation with its help. It has left some with the hopeless belief that one day they will have six friends who will be their friends for ten years. Friends were a show full of hope, living in a false world, sometimes even hating homosexuals. But for years, the fans and people loved it with all our heart. The episode is reunited and soft, cozy and full of desire, like a fire conversation with old friends you left long ago.