Friends (1994-2004) was the popular comedy sitcom of the 1990s. It defined the category of having a story around a close-knit group of friends. In the next two decades, scores of films and television shows around the world were ‘inspired’ liberally by Friends. During the early two-thousands, Friends and Frasier, which were both on-air, was my stable dinner companion, when I was on my many business trips to the USA away from my family in India. I carry nice remembrance of both the shows, with Friends being special.
Last week, Zee5 in India (HBO Max in the USA), released a sort-of silver-jubilee reunion of the six cast members titled [wait for it] Friends: The Reunion. Leading to the show, there was a lot of expectation building up on social media. I watched it today without knowing what it will be – will it be a sequel catching up twenty years later in the life of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey, or something else.
Luckily “Friends: The Reunion” was not a sequel. After ten seasons Friends ended in a perfect place and sequels always spoil the charm. Instead, The Reunion started with the cast arriving one by one to the original shooting floor with the set faithfully recreated. Then it was a free-flowing interview hosted by James Corden with Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. The interview format was interleaved with clippings from the original show, and behind the scene recordings.
Following this were comments from the creators of the show David Crane & Marta Kauffman on their thought process while they wrote the show. In the collective experience of its audiences worldwide, the actors who played the roles have been edged as the characters themselves, that when the creators describe their original casting process it was inconceivable even to consider any other actors playing the roles. The Reunion also carried soundbites of what the show meant for its fans from many parts of the world, it was amazing to see the impact a fictional TV show has had on people’s lives. The 100-minute show had star-studded guest appearances of Cindy Crawford, David Beckham, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Mindy Kaling & Noble laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Overall, I enjoyed the show. If you had ever watched more than a few episodes of Friends, you will like The Reunion, go for it.
Footnote: I followed the other TV shows that Matt LeBlanc had acted including Joey (2004-2006), Episodes (2011-2017) and Man with a Plan (2016-2020). I had watched Jennifer Aniston in many of her romcoms like She’s the One (1996), The Bounty Hunter (2010), The Switch (2010), Just go with it (2011), Horrible Bosses (2011) and recently with Murder Mystery (2019).