Friends: The Reunion premiered last week on the one-year anniversary of WarnerMedia’s launch of HBO Max, after it was delayed multiple times because of the COVID-19 production shutdowns. It finally commenced filming in April 2021.
It brought together the sitecom’s much loved stars – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. While many viewers were hoping to see them in character again as Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross, this loose, unscripted format for the reunion is far better than any scripted revival would have been. The one-hour, 43-minute Friends: The Reunion featured a number of big names, including Lady Gaga singing Smelly Cat, K-pop phenoms BTS, Tom Selleck, Reese Witherspoon and Justin Bieber.
The reminiscing is mixed with an interview on the famous orange couch between James Corden and the cast; interviews with creators David Crane, Marta Kauffman and Kevin Bright; cameos from famous stars; celebrity guests dishing about their favorite episodes; fans from around the world talking about how the show changed their lives; clips from old episodes; bloopers; and in asurprising and lovely touch, the actors re-reading some of the old scenes together.
The segments that pulled the focus away from the six stars were the clear weaknesses. The moments where they got to show off their chemistry as a group and reminisce most naturally were the strengths. Perhaps the funniest moments was Kudrow attempting to fend off a bug that flew into her hair, a bit of screaming and flailing that reminds fans of her talent as a physical comedian.
There were also some breathtaking revelations. Aniston, 52, and Schwimmer, 54, revealed it wasn’t just their characters, Rachel and Ross, who were attracted to reach other. “I mean, the first season, I had a major crush on Jen. At some point, we were crushing hard on each other,” Schwimmer said. “But it was like two ships passing, because one of us was always in a relationship and we never crossed that boundary.
Aniston added that she remembers saying one time to David, “It’s going to be such a bummer if the first time you and I actually kiss is going to be on national television. Sure enough, first time we kissed was in that coffee shop. So we just channeled all of adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachel.”
Another revelation was made by LeBlanc that Cox hid her script in a bowl of fruit sitting on Monica’s kitchen table. “I saw it one day on set and I was like, “What’s this?” And she was like, “Mind your business”. So before we shot that night, I erased it all and she got so mad at me!” Kudrow, 57, also said there was always a script in the apartment’s kitchen sink, but she didn’t know why at the time. “Turns out, it was Cox’s.”