So no one told you life was gonna be this way?
If you go on clapping along with the next set of tunes, well, there you are – fan spotted! ‘Friends: The Reunion’ has just been tailor-made for you. One of the most successful TV sitcoms of the nineties that ran for 236 episodes, across ten seasons has come back for one last time to drench its fans with the rains of nostalgia. And it has got plenty of them – anecdotes, recurring guest stars, celebrity fans, even fans all around the world acknowledging the impact of ‘Friends’ on their lives, the show truly lives up to its name. But as it always happens, all good things must have a little bit of bad in them. But hey, that’s how the world remains in equilibrium! Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the reunion episode that had fans waiting with bated breaths since the day it was announced.
It feels cathartic to see the cast of Friends sitting together on one couch. Anyone who has seen the series must accept the fact that it was the whole ensemble that made the show work. The control freak Monica, her goofy, nerdy much-married brother Ross, his one and true love Rachel, the weirdly good Phoebe, the sarcastically funny Chandler and the fool in the house Joey – they all became household names courtesy of their brilliant acting and equally brilliant team of Bright-Kauffman-Crane. The reunion episode brings back tons of memories. The crew and cast reminisce about the good old days, about how the cast was chosen and how they became the worldwide phenomenon. The cast themselves go back to the set at Stage 24 at Warner Bros studios lot, talk about the way the show was shot in front of a live episode, do table-reads of scripts and recreate some of the iconic scenes such as the quiz between the men and the women, Ross and Rachel’s first kiss, the one where everyone finds out about Monica and Chandler etc… The cast also reveals the fact that David Schwimmer and Jeniffer Aniston were majorly crushing on each other yet they never got into any romantic relationship, as they never wanted to jeopardise the harmony among the cast. It also brings back some of the guest stars such as Mr and Mrs Geller (played by Elliot Gould and Christina Pickles), Gunther (played by James Micheal Tyler), Richard Burke (played by Tom Selleck) and Oh-my-God Janice (played by Maggie Wheeler ). With so much nostalgia, you need to keep a box of tissues handy!
The reunion episode also features some of the celebrity fans who talk about their favourite bits from the show. David Beckham, Kit Harrington, Lady Gaga, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Malala Yousafzai and the Korean boy band BTS. To be honest, barring Kit Harrington and Lady Gaga, the rest come as fans just for the sake of the show. Kit talked about the aspect of the physical comedy that made the show better with the ‘Pivot’ scene being an example where the script had only three lines but the cast took it to another level. Lady Gaga jammed with Phoebe Buffay on the iconic ‘Smelly Cat’. As Lady Gaga thanked Lisa for being the odd one out on the cast, Lisa thanked her back for carrying it along. The weirdest filler of the show comes with celebrities like Cara Delevingne, Justin Bieber, Cindy Crawford walk on the ramp wearing some of the iconic costumes of the show that includes ‘Spudnik’ and ‘Holiday Armadillo’! The best part of the episode is the segment which features countless fans from across the world, expressing their gratitude to the show, for making their lives a little better.
With so many oh-so-good memories and several laugh-a-loud moments, the cast rather surreptitiously chooses not to speak about the ugly things of their lives. Matthew Perry, who played Chandler on the show, had allegedly struggled years with alcohol and drug addiction during and after the show. Hardcore fans would remember Chandler’s decaying self between season 3 and 6. It would’ve been interesting to see his take on the events. Courteney Cox had a series of botox procedures that altered her facial features quite a bit which she had regrets about later in her life. Matt Le Blanc had an issue with gaining weight. One can argue that these fall into personal issues and so shouldn’t be discussed on a show. But c’mon, that’s how much the audience have remained invested into their favourite stars’ lives, all these years! Some of the major recurring guest stars weren’t there such as Paul Rudd (now famous as MCU’s Ant-Man) who played Phoebe’s husband Mike Hannigan, Christina Applegate who played Rachel’s sister Amy Green, Giovanni Ribisi who played Phoebe’s half-brother Frank Buffay Jr etc… And somehow nobody seems to talk about the elephant in the room – how the entire cast barring Jeniffer Aniston struggled to find similar levels of success after the show was over in 2004. This revelation could’ve brought an interesting view into the show and largely an overview about the ruthlessness of the entertainment industry – out of sight, out of mind!
Nevertheless, ‘Friends: The Reunion’ makes for a compelling watch. The die-hard fans won’t miss it for the world. And for the sceptical ones, why don’t you go back and watch the ten seasons and come back? I’m sure, it will make a fan out of you! And when you come back to watch the reunion episode, you’ll know what I was talking about.
I’ll be there for you…‘Cause you’re there for me too!
‘Friends: The Reunion’ – Now streaming, worldwide on HBO Max. In India, it can be watched on Zee5.
The Cinemawala Review – 3/5