GRAPHIC BY CHARLOTTE DRESSER
It has been 17 years since Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Joey said goodbye to the purple apartment in New York City’s Greenwich Village, and now they’re back again. Well, at least their actors are.
“Friends: The Reunion” (available on HBO Max) is a two-hour feature where the actors of the wildly popular sitcom “Friends” reunite and reminisce about their show. “Friends,” a sitcom about six young adults living in New York, aired from 1994 to 2004 and averaged tens of millions of viewers per episode. Courtney Cox (Monica Geller), Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing), David Schwimmer (Ross Geller), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Greene), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), and Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani) revisit their old sets, reread the best scenes, share stories about their time on “Friends” and even play a lively game of trivia.
The show opened perfectly with each actor walking onto the set of “Friends” for the first time since shooting the last episode of the original series. Their reactions to seeing the sets again, as well as each other, moved viewers, and it was clear how much the show and fellow cast members meant to them.
In one episode of the original “Friends,” Rachel and Monica famously lose their apartment to Chandler and Joey in a high-stakes game of trivia. During the reunion, the actors once again play a game of trivia, but with questions about the show (and with no apartments trading hands). Questions range from “how long was the letter that Ross wrote to Rachel before getting back together?” to “which one of these pairs of hands belongs to Joey’s hand twin?” This trivia game provided a great way to reminisce about the show and to bring you back to arguably one of the best “Friends” episodes.
Fans from across the globe shared stories about how “Friends” had been a comfort or a joy to them, as well as their favorite lines or scenes, in short video clips. This part showed the far-reaching influence the show had on people all over the world and how it greatly helped many of them. It was especially heartwarming to see how the show had helped some fans escape difficult or lonely times.
This reunion did have its wacky moments, though. There were a few parts that were a bit random, such as testimonials from celebrities like Malala Yousafzai, BTS and David Beckham that didn’t have anything to do with the show. Cara Delevingne, Justin Bieber, and Cindy Crawford were also featured modeling various notable outfits from “Friends,” such as Rachel’s Bridesmaid dress, Ross’s Spud-nick Halloween costume and holiday armadillo costume. This fashion show felt a bit odd, but it didn’t take away from the enjoyability and nostalgia of the reunion.
The amount of behind the scenes stories and clips let fans experience the show as the actors did. David Schwimmer recalled how they had to retake many scenes just because the monkey (who was featured on the show for a little while) did not go where it was supposed to. At one point, Matt Leblanc said while they were on the set, “are Courtney’s lines still written on the table?”
We also were shown many bloopers of people falling, teasing each other, and even dislocating their shoulders. It feels so special to be able to see and hear about the things that go on behind the scenes of your favorite shows, as well as connect to the characters and actors, and these bloopers and behind the scenes stories did just that.
Viewers also got to hear how each character was cast on the show. We learned the writers came up with the part of Ross specifically for David Schwimmer, that the “Friends” team poached Jennifer Aniston from another show, that Joey’s part almost didn’t go to Matt Leblanc, and many more stories.
It’s no doubt that “Friends” accumulated an immense following in its 27 years since first being aired. This reunion show brought back to life the magic of this simple sitcom, and it gave fans nostalgia for their favorite show. It also allowed all viewers to get a deeper and more meaningful experience out of the show and get one more taste of their favorite group of friends.