Remember a little while ago? This would never happen. Friends was done, they said. Over. The cast and crew were united that it was finished and would never be revisited.
The cast said they weren’t interested as they felt the story was told. Even if they were, they said, the creators of the show would never let it happen.
The show’s creators, David Crane and Marta Kauffman, were adamant. Kaufman said, just this past year:
“We will not be doing a reunion show, we will not be doing a reboot. The show was about that time in life when friends are your family.”
And Crane then added:
“We did the show we wanted to do. We got it right, and we put a bow on it.”
They feel the show is about that particular time in your life when, as they say, friends are family. The stories were told in a post-college, pre-marriage world. Now that the characters have moved through that, there are no more stories to tell.
There is no doubt that if you are a certain age then Friends hit you at just the right time. I was. It screened just when I was the same age as the characters in exactly the same stage of life. For us, it captured the zeitgeist. It started off as maybe a show we could happily watch with our female friends without wanting to rip our own eyeballs out.
Then it started to match us pretty closely as we were all in the same boat as the characters. Post-college, pre-serious relationships. Friends really were family in the absence of wives and children. Social-life was everything despite lack of money as we struggled to define who we were, who we wanted to be, to develop in our careers and get on that property ladder. It spoke to us.
It ended with the characters heading into marriages, parenthood, big things in their careers, right when those things started happening for us in the real world. So it did really feel that it ended pretty perfectly, at the perfect time for us, and didn’t need to come back.
However, in the fifteen years since it disappeared from our screens, it has never really been gone thanks to endless re-runs. Also, it has been quite an eventful fifteen years for many of that core audience who were with the show at just the right time.
Children, divorces, marriages, house moves, career boosts, maybe career failures, even bereavements and that hideous, sudden confrontation with your own mortality when your parents pass away and you realise you are now all alone to carry the torch. Life, as Ferris Bueller tells us, moves pretty fast.
As you think about these things, how life has changed, you think maybe it would be good just to check-in with old Friends. Just to see what’s happened to them since the last time. Has the fifteen years for the characters panned out anything like yours?
Well, it seems we are not alone. A random Instagram post from Jennifer Aniston of all of the original cast together, did, as I believe the younger ones call it, “break the internet” with fevered speculation. This was played down by both cast and creators.
Then came the news that WarnerMedia had thrown a frankly obscene amount of money around to get the rights for their upcoming streaming service, HBO Max. They locked themselves into a bidding war with Netflix and emerged victorious, but much poorer.
HBO Max is said to have paid $85 million per year in a five-year deal for the streaming rights, $425 million in total.
So money appears to be no object. And money talks. Even more so in Hollywood. So it seems somebody must have been throwing some more of it around as the cast and creators seem to be changing their tune from no-no-no to a big fat yes!
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a one-off special could be heading to the new streaming service in time for the 25th Anniversary of the first show airing.
It claims that all of the six main cast members, Courteney Cox (Monica Geller), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), David Schwimmer (Ross Geller), Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing) and Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani), will be back in their respective roles.
Although the cast had been certain it would never happen, in a recent interview Aniston herself changed tack and said:
“I would do it. The girls would do it. And the boys would do it, I’m sure.”
According to THR, stalwart holdouts Crane and Kauffman are returning as well.
As the cast famously negotiated as one collective for their salary and each was paid $1 million per episode for seasons nine and ten, you can imagine the size of the cheque they’ll each receive for this one-off special must be truly mind-blowing.
But you know what? Half the Western world will probably be tuning in. And despite not admitting it to anyone, we will be too!