Let me throw some numbers at you :
Streamed in over 220 territories.
Averaging 25 million viewers a week.
52 million people watched the series finale.
Streamed over a 100 billion times across all platforms.
‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S: The Reunion’ was like the end of a truly epic saga – filled with energy, joy, memories, emotions, love, friendship and of course some hilarious bloopers!
Nearly 2 decades ago, Chandler and Monica moved out of the apartment they, their friends and all of us had come to call home – the apartment with the famous purple door. Fast forward, the camera pans for the first time to the left of the door, to the sound stage and it’s David Schwimmer (Ross) walking in. “Wow” he utters on behalf of us all!
The special episode starts with a full reveal of the sets – Chandler and Joey’s apartment, the coffee shop, and of course Monica’s apartment. We see how entire worlds are created within such small spaces and how actors fill it up with emotions and life.
Following David, all the actors enter one by one inside the same studio where they shot this epic show all those years back – emotional & stunned, just like the audiences watching it today. They all look older, wiser but they seem the same regardless – Phoebe’s laugh, Chandler’s one liners, Monica & Rachel’s bond…yet it’s not the characters you are seeing today, it’s the actors who blew life into them. There are hugs & compliments as the cast goes around the set reliving their days and of course many behind the scene secrets are revealed like how Courteney Cox used to have her lines written on the table & even hidden in the fruit basket and how defensive she got when Matt LeBlanc asked her about it once!
The entire cast gets together on the same couch against the iconic fountain where the opening theme song for the show was filmed. James Corden welcomes a live audience – one that you can see this time and it includes many surprises – like the writers & producers of the show and even the actors who played Ross & Monica’s parents!
The episode is beautifully knit. It goes back and forth between table reads, trivia games, emotional memories, appearances by guest stars from the show and of course producers’ interviews & even memories shared by fans of the show from around the world, including many known faces – from Nobel Peace Prize awardee Malala Yousafzai who became a super-fan of the show thanks to her real life bestie to BTS’ RM revealing how Friends helped him learn English to David Beckham declaring he is a clean-freak like Monica to a special guest joining Lisa Kudrow on a memorable rendition of the classic ‘Smelly cat’!
Friends was created by David Crane, Kevin Bright and Marta Kauffman and they wanted the show to reflect a time in your life when your friends are your family. The show creators go back to their long and tiring experience of casting for the roles. Spoiler – it wasn’t a cake walk…we time travel to when LeBlanc had only 11 dollars and a smashed nose on the day of his call back to how Schwimmer had quit TV to Perry who was already on another show to Lisa who had nailed her audition to Courteney who refused to play Rachel and had her heart set on Monica to when it seemed like Jennifer wont be able to leave a show she was already cast in!
Amidst all the fun & frolic, Perry reveals for the first time how much pressure he felt about landing laughs from the live audience while Matt LeBlanc talks about the sudden fame the actors experienced.
Many tidbits are revealed throughout the special like why Joey was suddenly seen wearing a sling on the show, how budget constraints were worked into the script & how audience reactions would help the producers hone storylines.
But the biggest reveal has to be that Ross & Rachel could have happened in real life! YES, WE SCREAMED TOO! Watch the special to know how David Schwimmer & Jennifer Aniston had a crush on each other!
As you go through the episode, you see that the 6 actors are still really good friends…even if this was possibly the last time, as per Courteney Cox, that we will see them in something like this. As Lisa Kudrow put it, the producers of the show ended it with everyone getting their happy ending and anything new would just disturb it.
All in all, the reunion will make you smile and it will make you cry and then it will make you go back to the show once again!
F.R.I.E.N.D.S: The Reunion is now streaming on Zee5.