So I know I’m quite late in my commentary on the Friends Reunion special that aired back in May, but I only recently got around to watching it – and I must say, it was worth the wait!
The thing about Friends is that when it actually aired from 1994-2004, I was never really a fan. I kept hearing about the show at school and through entertainment gossip and often heard rumblings about a hot couple called ‘Ross and Rachel’, but my interest never quite caught on at the time. I think it was more of a generational thing. I was in my early teens and my go-to sitcoms were primarily Full House and Fresh Prince.
It wasn’t until early 2004 that I kept hearing buzz about this iconic sitcom ending its 10-year run that year and it was a darn big deal. Entertainment outlets were all over it and at that point, I was like, okay, what’s all the fuss about?
So the first time I ever watched an episode of Friends was quite literally the very last episode of the series!
Clearly I was completely lost with the plot and characters since I had never watched a single episode during its decade-long run, but honestly, as soon that two-hour finale finished, I was immediately hooked!
Yes, I know, talk about going backwards! LOL
At that time DVD’s were still a thing and once the show ended, I ordered the entire 10-season DVD box set and binge-watched 10 years of love, laughs, heartache and triumph with what would become one of the most famous friendships in modern-day showbiz.
During an interview bite with Reese Witherspoon, she pointed out how each character on the show had such a presence and originality about them they could individually carry on their own individual shows. I don’t disagree, and that fact is what only elevated the show’s popularity.
Here are some notable highlights (in no particular order) from the special that stood out for me:
A Show with a Global Impact
The segment about the show’s impact on a global scale with soundbites from notable figures like Malala Yousafzai was particularly interesting because it spoke to just how relatable the characters, the storylines and the overall dynamic of the show was to people from all over the world.
Jennifer Aniston’s Prior Show
I never knew that Jennifer Aniston had already signed on to another show called Muddling Through prior to joining Friends! In hindsight, it’s hard to believe that there might have been even a small chance that she would not have stayed on as her iconic character, Rachel, had she decided to stick with the other show. Clearly, we are glad she didn’t!
The Appearance of Recurring Cast Members
A great thing about the special was the inclusion of other important cast members that made a significant impact on a recurring basis.
Janice and her Laugh
I loved when Maggie Wheeler made her appearance on the special. She made her entrance as soon as the question about who had the best laugh was posed. I’m sure it was planned that way and it worked out so well.
There is such a lovely warmth about Maggie and it’s wild that she is still able to turn her famous accent on and off without hesitation. Janice was always so fun to watch and it turns out that the famous laugh evolved out of coincidence and was never actually part of the character initially. In this 2016 interview, Maggie explains that she needed to find a way to keep herself composed during scenes with Matthew Perry because she knew he would make her laugh; so she inadvertently formed the nasally and now-iconic ‘Janice’ laugh that we have come to love and is surely a huge factor in what kept Janice returning to the show over the years.
James Michael Tyler, who played, Gunther, the manager of the show’s famous coffee shop, Central Perk, made a heartfelt appearance via zoom during the special. I had wondered why he didn’t make an appearance in person, but then I recently read up that the actor has had his own personal health battles for the last little while was why he kept his appearance virtual. I send my best wishes to James for a speedy recovery.
Mr. and Mrs. Gellar
Monica and Ross’ parents were always fun to watch on the show. When the actors, Christina Pickles and Elliot Gould made their appearance on the special, it was so nice to see them speak fondly of all the cast members.
Phoebe and Lady Gaga’s “Smelly Cat” Duet
Who doesn’t love Phoebe’s famous ‘Smelly Cat’ single? What a throwback to see an encore of it and even more awesome to see the track elevated by none other than Lady Gaga who her own unique spin on it. The surprise choir that joined in at the end only made the performance that much more entertaining.
Catch an encore of the duet here:
One thing that stood out for me was when a couple of the cast members couldn’t remember specific episodes they were in. David Schwimmer furrowed his brow in wonder when they talked about “The One with the Ball” from Season 5 where Ross and Joey continuously throw a ball at each other. I suppose it’s understandable to initially not recall an episode – especially after having shot over 230 of them!
Lisa Kudrow also admitted to not having seen entire seasons of the show. I guess it’s different watching yourself onscreen when you’re an actor on the show. It has to be. But it’s strange to think that one of the integral cast members hasn’t seen large chunks of the show – even 17 years since the last episode aired.
The Return of the Trivia Quiz
I loved how the special infused some of our favourite moments from the show into real-life scenarios like the famous trivia quiz from “The One with the Embryos” from Season 4 where Monica and Rachel lost their apartment to Joey and Chandler after losing the game. The toggling from the original scenes to the present day dramatization for the special was super entertaining. Gotta love the attentiveness! =)
The Hint at a Real Life Ross and Rachel
Okay, this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, but to see Jen and David actually confirm their mutual feelings for each other all those years ago on live TV was definitely an ‘awww’ moment.
I love their chemistry on and off-screen and think they would make a lovely pairing in real life. There were some rumours swirling around after the special aired about them actually rekindling ‘something’ but those were quickly dispelled. (Darn!) But hey, the loyal fans can always dream, can’t they? And hey, as long as they remain good friends, what more can we ask for? 🙂
There were plenty of other great moments during the special but these are just a few that stood out to me. Friends is one of those shows that really never gets old – much like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in my opinion. You’ll never not laugh at an episode no matter how many times you’ve watched it! The show has been the tru epitome of what it’s like to have friends that are like family.
And let’s weigh in on something – it’s been close to two decades since the final episode aired! That’s crazy and a testament of how quickly the years actually go by.
As Courteney stated during the final moments of the reunion, there won’t be another special like this in another 10 years. This is it. So it’s even more important to keep in touch as often as possible. The bond they have as actors and the bond they shared as their beloved characters on the show, is something very special that truly transcended the ending of the show and it will continue to enlighten the hearts of people all over the world for years to come.
What’s your all-time favourite episode of Friends? Please share in the comments.