Friends was one of the first shows that offered viewers a very simple premise: follow the lives of a series of 20-somethings in the big city. It may seem a common narrative trope nowadays however, at the time that it premiered, Friends changed the world of TV sitcoms.
Nearly every sitcom on TV that has emerged since has revealed some link of inspiration to Friends. Yet while there have been many hits, few have reached the heights of the original. And that is certainly saying something given the number of shows that have come and gone since Friends first aired in 1994. To maintain a following for more than 25 years is something truly special.
What sets the cast of Friends apart from many other shows of its type is that the main cast remained together through thick and thin, sticking up for each other and negotiating together. Each are now a star in their own right, and while the artistic endeavors they pursue vary, one can tell that the chemistry the cast has always shared is real.
This is part of what makes Friends: The Reunion (otherwise known as “The One Where They Get Back Together”) such an exciting prospect. We get to see where the stars are with their lives, reminisce about the show through the eyes of its creators, and so much more. This unscripted celebration of everything Friends is right within your reach.
While the reunion special is already out, we don’t want to spoil everything for you. So here are a select few facts we can share with you about what you can expect from Friends: The Reunion. Read on, and discover whether it is worth the watch, a subscription, and a few hours of your time.
There is so much content online and on TV that it can be hard to get excited for anything these days. Therefore, you might be asking yourself why this reunion matters in the first place. What makes it so special?
It matters because Friends is one of the biggest shows to ever grace television, lasting nearly a decade and still shown and streamed regularly to this day. There are still huge fans of the show and people who like to re-watch the entire series regularly. Major episodes and season finales topped ratings charts. Because of discussion topics across the country, there was a demand for this sort of reunion, even if the fans didn’t think of it yet.
On a larger scale within the entertainment industry, the Friends reunion special is certain to have a big draw to it, and there has already been some attention paid to it since its release. It stands out and makes headlines where most content releases and shows would get glossed over. Over the years, we will also see whether this sort of content gets a draw in the long run or whether it’s effectively only good for a few months remains to be seen. It is a test in its own right, both for the Friends brand today and for event “television” of this nature.
We would like to note here, though, that every critic has noted this is truly a special for die-hard fans, and while casual fans might enjoy it a bit, people who have been following Friends for decades will absolutely get the most out of it and be sure to enjoy it, so long as they do not get their expectations too high (there isn’t going to be an all-out revival). People who have not seen an episode of the show, on the other hand, will get confused quickly.
You might be worried about the making of such a special and the direction it will take. You can rest assured, though, that it will be in good hands. All the main cast are executive producing the special, and there are also returning names from the series in general. Also involved are producers of the original show Kevin S. Bright, David Crane, and Marta Kauffman. Whatever changes might exist, the spirit of the show will remain alive in the reunion. It will be managed by people who truly love and appreciate what made the show special.
The creators were also wise to film the reunion at “The Friends Stage”, otherwise known as Stage 24 at Warner Bros. Studios. The show was filmed there since its second season, so there is no place on Earth with more history related to the show. While it isn’t an episode of the show proper, it does provide a sense of closure to many, if only emotionally.
In terms of hosting, the notable James Corden will be taking up the mantle and guiding us through the special in several ways. And of course, there is a crew of experienced experts handling everything else from lighting to setting the stage.
In what must have been a hardship to arrange, all the main cast is confirmed to be part of the reunion. That means David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Courteney Cox. They all play an equal role, and they all seem overjoyed to be there.
On top of the main cast, there are going to be plenty of other guest appearances from stars both new and old. After all, who would want to miss this? Some of the major names include:
There are also some other guests, either in the audience or as part of the special (look out in particular for the trivia game guests and contestants) that you might recognize, so be on the lookout for them when you give the special a watch! While it seems likely that most of the above will only be shorter appearances, given the number and the length of the reunion special, the density will delight fans. Even some regulars or special guests that couldn’t make it are shown via old clips and archive footage.
Speaking of the audience, there is a live audience for a couple of portions of the special, mostly consisting of union extras. Have no fear about production at the time, however, as they all had been screened for COVID prior to filming. They add a little kick to those portions and make the special feel more alive.
Outside of the audience, we also get to hear from fans around the world to hear what the show means to them. Friends is a worldwide phenomenon, and the special does not want us to forget it.
While the original series was a mainstay on network television, the reunion is going to be on HBO Max. This will require a subscription and those at HBO and Warner Brothers are really hoping for some new subscribers (after all, this couldn’t have been cheap). It is in a bit of a different niche or reach than their usual content, so make sure you get the word out to your fellow fans about where the Friends reunion is. Alternatively, maybe a bunch of you to get together and make it a special event viewing!
We first learned of the special perhaps back in 2019, when rumors were going around that Warner Brothers was hoping to do something to bring more attention to their newer (at the time) streaming service HBO Max.
Since then, the special actually premiered a little while ago, specifically on May 27th, 2021. After a few months, it is still on HBO Max and getting quite a few views. It is easy to get to, and you will know it exactly when you see it.
Why the delay for a special of this nature? It should be noted that due to the recent pandemic the filming of the special got delayed not once but twice, which might have led to a later release date than originally anticipated. Not an immense amount of production is needed for the special compared to the massive amount of CGI work and processing that goes into some shows, but the producers and professionals need enough time to create the best program they can. They also needed time to make sure the production was safe for everyone involved, which it thankfully was.
On top of the reunion itself, you can see a few extra clips that were cut from the special on HBO Max. For those curious, you can also find a few clips on YouTube.
We expect the reunion to have its fair share of reminiscing, so be prepared for the nostalgia the reunion was designed for. To help you with this preparation, it might be good to go down memory lane with some of the following moments and episodes. Do note that we will be including some spoilers for the series here, but we will be listing the entries in order:
Of course, you can’t skip the first episode if you are looking to review your Friends knowledge. While some might say the show didn’t find its footing until a bit later (what show actually does find a footing so early), here we meet everyone, get to experience a great pilot, and see Rachel get settled into a new life.
One of the first episodes to really show off the ensemble cast and its ability to play off each other, The One with the Blackout is filled with laughs, a song or two from Phoebe, and tension. And in the meanwhile, Chandler has a hilarious side plot getting stuck in an ATM booth with a model.
In this episode, which many might call an emotional gut-punch, is where Ross learns Rachel is over him. This makes Ross know that Rachel was at one point not over him. It’s a bit sad and one of the most memorable answering machine messages of modern television.
While this one might not have too many major revelations or plot points, it was one of the series' best bottle episodes (where everything happens mostly on one set in a shorter period of time). Everyone wants to go to a work event for Ross, but everything just keeps going wrong. Hilarity ensues.
In this one which turned out to be a bit of a twist few saw coming, Ross and Rachel get into a fight which leads to them “taking a break”. This leads to further complications that will have an effect on the rest of the series and Ross and Rachel’s relationship. To understand the show, this episode is required.
In many ways, this episode wasn’t particularly important, though it was a notable Thanksgiving episode, but it certainly was entertaining and certainly was one of those episodes that is hard to forget. It had some fantastic rants, some great jokes, and, of course, Chandler in a literal box.
One of the biggest cliffhangers in the series as well as one of the most impactful sets of episodes for the entire series, there is just a ton that happens here. If you know, you know, and if you don’t you do not want us to spoil it here.
While everyone liked to focus on the Ross and Rachel on and off again situation, there was another great couple on the show in Monica and Chandler. In this one, everyone finds out but they aren’t supposed to find out, so they act like they didn’t find out. But everyone really knows. Don’t follow? Watch the episode and have a ton of fun with it.
We almost knew that Chandler and Monica were going to get engaged at this point, yet the real question was how. In this two-part episode, we get quite a bit of misdirection as the characters act as they do (and not in their own best interests). The result is a near-disaster and Monica is quite forward with what she wants. It’s another one that can’t be missed.
While Friends generally stayed towards lighter topics or those related to the ups and downs of love and friendship, one of the more bold moves the show’s creators made was making it so that Monica and Chandler had fertility problems. While the thread played out over a few different episodes, this one is key to watch.
One of the best moves the show ever made was not simply putting Joey and Phoebe together because they were who was left over by the closing run of the show. Instead, they got Paul Rudd to play Phoebe’s husband. It’s a sweet and funny episode, and one of the best of the last season.
And of course, you cannot forget the finale, which tried to wrap up several loose ends but added a whole lot of drama at the same time. Ross and Rachel were at times clearly the focus of the show, and if there was any plot thread that needed to get resolved, it was what was going to happen to them. That wasn’t all, however, as we needed a chance to say goodbye to the characters.
Note that if you are hopping on the train now to catch up or watch (or rewatch) before the reunion, the show is easy to watch, and while some more intense episodes that require your full attention, the show can easily be binged while doing chores around the house or some light work on the computer. It’s a lot of show and a huge time commitment, so whatever makes it easier for you.
Finally, if you have not seen the trailer yet, you can do so below. We strongly recommend it unless you are certain you are going to watch it anyway and want to go in as blindly as possible.
This is no small trailer and is packed to the brim with information we can glean. You get to see the sets that feel like they have never really changed. It really shows the love between the cast and you get a taste of the surprises to come. You also see that it is not just a simple chat and that there are multiple segments to see for anyone watching. It is a truly fantastic production if the trailer has anything to say about it.
We hope that for you Friends: The Reunion will be something you can look forward to after all these years. You likely have followed some of the careers and you now have the opportunity to see all the stars and characters back in one place. You might even get some answers to longstanding questions. Whatever the case, it is bound to be an emotional journey for many people just like it was for the cast. Seeing as it is out today, you can see for yourself what the special has in store!