Friends: The Reunion

Friends: The Reunion – 17 Takeaways From the HBO Special

Dept. of Unagi


It’s been almost two decades since the Friends finale aired on NBC in the United States and fans of the show – of which there are many – have long been clamoring for some sort of reboot, reunion, sequel, spinoff, or movie. Basically anything more to do with the show and its cast. So much so that for the last 17 years, it wasn’t possible for Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer to leave any interview without being asked about whether or not they’ll be getting the gang back together. Well, it’s finally happened. It’s finally here. Friends: The Reunion sees the return of the original cast, not as their characters, but as themselves, for an unscripted look back at their time on the iconic sitcom.


In fact, the series still continues to find viewers across the globe, making it such sought after content that HBO thought making this reunion special was crucial to bolstering their Max subscriptions.

Over the last twelve months, HBO has already reunited the casts of two pop-culture classics, the both of them doing more than enough to justify their reason for being. Airing just before the elections in November, their West Wing special was a brilliantly executed dramatic re-staging of an iconic episode, that was used as a call to action to get out the vote. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Reunion, on the other hand, gave us that long overdue reconciliation between Will Smith and the OG Aunt Viv, Janet Louise Hubert. And so, the question that remains is whether or not this latest effort will merely be an exercise in nostalgic fanwank (not that there’s anything wrong with that), or if it will have something genuinely new to say about the lasting legacy of the series?

But first…

Here are 17 takeaways from the 105 minute Friends: The Reunion special. (Spoilers! Obviously.)

  1. Now, if you are a Friends megafan, there is a lot of information in Friends: The Reunion that you probably already know. That said, the folks at HBO have put it all into a very slick package for you. So I suppose that’s something.
  1. Now, the biggest revelation from the reunion was that the real Ross, David Schwimmer, and the real Rachel, Jennifer Anniston, almost had a thing. The both of them admitted to having massive crushes on one another but never acted on it because the time was never right. They were both always in relationships with other people.

    I couldn’t quite figure out why they decided to share this information now, all of these years later, except maybe because they figured that they really needed something juicy to justify making this thing. God knows it makes for a really clickbaity headline.
  1. Besides that bombshell, however, I think it’s important to note that this thing is long. Yes, it was wonderful to see all of those iconic sets recreated in such great detail. But there is so much unnecessarily filler here that could have been completely cut out.
  1. Speaking of which, the so called “special guests” brought absolutely nothing to the table. It’s a Friends reunion, that’s been made for the show’s fannest of fans, I don’t think any of them really care what David Beckham’s favourite episode was. I don’t think anyone was clamoring to see Cindy Crawford in Ross’ leather pants from “The One with All the Resolutions.” Just how much did they have to pay BTS to be there for 30 seconds?
  1. Matthew Perry would live and die with every joke. He tells his fellow castmates how much not getting a laugh from the studio audience would affect him both physically and mentally.
  1. Courtney Cox used to have a crib sheet by writing her lines down on the apartment dining table.
  1. According to the shows creators and producers, Bright, Kauffman, and Crane, the casting process was a long and difficult one, and they auditioned more than “a gazillion” people before settling on the six friends that we all know and love. The six of them were apparently cast in the following order: David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Courtney Cox, Matthew Perry, and Jennifer Anniston.
Friends: The Reunion
  1. Monica and Chandler were only ever supposed to have a fling. But it was the audience’s reaction to their relationship that had the showrunners rethink the whole thing and develop it into something more.
  1. It was really sweet to learn more about their off screen camaraderie. I think fans have always secretly hoped that these “friends” were as close as there are in real life as the were on our screens. And throughout this reunion special, there were short anecdotes, and fleeting glances, and a palpable chemistry that really reinforced just how connected they actually are.
  1. It was incredible how easily they slipped back into their respective roles. At various points throughout this special, we saw the six of them recreate certain iconic moments from the series, and they were so close to the original that you could probably dub them over footage from the show and barely be able to tell the difference.
  1. No one actually knows what Chandler did for a living. Not even the writers it seems.
  1. Ross hated Marcel the monkey! (But this is very old news.)
  1. Lady Gaga shows up to sing “Smelly Cat” with Lisa Kudrow and thanks her for flying her freak flag!
  1. One other new revelation from this reunion was that Matt LeBlanc actually dislocated his shoulder while filming the fan favourite episode, “The One Where No One’s Ready” (Season 3, Episode 2!). You know the one. It’s where Joey puts on all of Chandler’s clothes.
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Now, there is a moment in the episode, when Chandler and Joey both race to sit in the same chair, and on the fourth take, Matt LeBlanc trips on the table, and falls on his shoulder. The story goes that Matt LeBlanc got hurt the one and only time that the six of them didn’t do their traditional huddle before shooting the episode. Needless to say, they never missed a huddle after that.

Friends: The Reunion
“The Huddle.”
  1. Malala (yes, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala) loves “The Routine.”
Season 6 Dance Routine GIF by Friends - Find & Share on GIPHY
This “Routine!”
  1. The big question of the night? Have the six of them ever considered coming back for more? A movie maybe? The short answer is “no.” The long answer is that the series ended on such a great note for all of these characters, that bringing them back would mean having to upend those happy endings. And neither the cast nor the showrunners want to do that.
Friends: The Reunion
  1. HBO really pulled out all the stops for this. And rightly so. At the beginning of this whole thing, when James Corden reads out some statistics about the show, and tells us – and the cast – that it’s been watched over 100 billion times across all platforms, it becomes even clearer just how much of an impact the series has had on global popular culture.

Could it have been more spontaneous? Yes. Given that getting them all back together cost a reported US$ 2 million each, you would think that they could manage a couple of off the cuff questions. Could we have spent more time with Janice, Richard, and Gunther, and less time with James Corden? For sure. Though he wasn’t nearly as annoying as everyone was expecting. Should they have spent any time addressing some of the issues and criticisms that have been leveled against the show over the last few years? No. Not at all. While this reunion special didn’t really do anything to explore the deeper impact of the show on society, or on the lives of the people who made it, it was never really designed to be that.

Friends is a relic of the 90s, and as such, it bears the burden of having to carry all of that baggage of being whitewashed, and occasionally tone deaf, and nowhere nearly as woke as some contemporary audiences demand. But God knows we have enough have op-eds and overwrought think pieces for that.

This thing was always supposed to be a celebration. A love letter to the fans and for the fans. It delivers on that (mostly) and should finally put an end to the ceaseless calls for it to exist.

Friends: The Reunion special will debut, same time as the U.S. on Thursday, May 27, at 3.01PM, exclusively on HBO GO, with a same-day broadcast on HBO (Astro CH 411 HD) at 9PM. 

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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