Cast: Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Mathew Perry and Matt LeBlanc
Director: Ben Winston
It is very rare for a show to have the kind of influence that Friends had for its ten year run. But what the cast and crew and makers would have never imagined was how the advent of streaming took it to entirely new levels. With more and more young people watching the show years after it went off air, there was a rising demand of watching the six stars-Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Mathew Perry and Matt LeBlanc-together again.
Hence, when HBO Max announced a Friends reunion after months of teasing, fans were overjoyed. The filming however, saw major delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After finally filming in April this year, the cast of Friends were once again ready to hit the screen.
The 100-minute long reunion started with tears. The six actors revisited their set together after 17 years and were pretty emotional. They then sat together for an interview with James Corden in front of the iconic fountain where they shot the theme song. The interview was then interspaced with the stars reading their popular scenes, reenacting some scenes and watching the bloopers.
From the very beginning, Friends: The Reunion rides high on emotions. It is heartening to watch the on-screen camaraderie of the cast translating into real life. They reveal that the reason why they became family is that no one else could relate to the changes in their lives. They quickly became each other’s support and never lost their love for each other. This feeling of positivity is palpable in the reunion.
The problem with a massive show like Friends is that there is usually nothing new to say. Every blooper has been watched, every article has been read and we know the details of their personal lives inside out. Hence, a lot of people were skeptical about the reunion being ‘just an interview.’ However, fortunately for us, the cast had many revelations to make. It started with the visual of Matt LeBlanc dislocating his shoulder while filming ‘The One Where Everyone is Late.’ We then found out that Matthew Perry was always anxious about the audience’s reaction towards his lines, which he never told others. This in hindsight is significant because he struggled with addiction issues while filming the show.
The big revelation of the show was when James Corden asked if there were any romances. There have been several articles which quote Matthew Perry saying he was infatuated with Courteney Cox. But in the reunion we found out that Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer crushed hard on each other during filming. However, the timing between them was never right and they did in fact just remain friends, pun intended. They channeled their feelings on being Ross and Rachel.
Another big moment on the reunion was actually a fleeting one. While talking about all the famous guest stars that were on the show, Jennifer brought up Julia Roberts and pointed to Matthew, saying “he enjoyed her.” Julia and Matthew had in fact dated for around two years at that time. David then pointed to Jennifer and said “your guy,” alluding to Brad Pitt. To this, Jennifer said, “Pitt came and did an episode.” Though a matter of seconds, this is definitely one of the biggest talking points of the reunion.
There were also the other cast members who made a special appearance. Tom Selleck spent a few moments as Richard. Hollywood legend Elliot Gould and Christina Pickles, who played Jack and Judy Geller were present in the audience. James Michael Tyler or Gunther appeared on Zoom. However, the best appearance was by Maggie Wheeler, who lit up the room again as Janice. There were other guest stars like David Beckham and Reese Witherspoon, but they only gave their testimonies.
To get a reunion right, especially for a show like Friends, must have been difficult. But by creating a diverse format, it was kept interesting. Probably the involvement of David Crane, Matha Kauffman and Kevin Bright made the reunion feel familiar.
For die-hard Friends fans, make sure you have a box of tissues with you. The reunion is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. In one minute, you will be laughing about “pivot, pivot, pivot” and the next you will be crying over “I got off the plane.” It checks, however, because, emotions were the essence of the show.