"Friends: The Reunion" on HBO Max was an emotional and fun trip back to one of the most beloved television shows.
"Friends" ran for 10 seasons (1994-2004) and 236 episodes averaging 25 million viewers a week. And according to the "Reunion" host James Corden, “The show has been watched over 100 billion times.”
Wow. Just wow.
And with the world more interconnected than ever, you wonder how many tuned in Thursday to watch "Friends: The Reunion."
If you did, here are our best moments from one of the best television events of the last few years.
1. The One Where the Friends Arrive at the Old Stage
Stage 24 at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California was where the show was filmed since the second season. It has since been renamed the Friends Studios in honor of the show.
David Schwimmer’s expression says it all when he saw the old set. He was in disbelief as if he had stepped out of a time machine. The sofa might not be the same and some other relics were missing. But it was the set.
Seeing Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc sink into those chairs with those joyful expressions on their faces was a moment of pure bliss.
After Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow arrived. Then Jennifer Aniston. And she aptly said, “Where’s the tissue box?” Matt LeBlanc would later wipe the tears in Cox’s eyes.
Then Matt LeBlanc arrived and quipped, “This is great. I got chills.”
Then Courteney Cox. And lastly, Matthew Perry.
It was a reveal of sorts when LeBlanc disclosed that Cox would write cheat sheets on the table, the apples, the sink, and just about anything.
But seeing the cast in loving embraces and man hugs, that already was the price of admission.
2. The One Where the Show’s Producers Talk About the Casting
The backstory to the production of "Friends" by creators and writers David Crane and Marta Kauffman along with producer Kevin Bright were fun listens.
Imagine the tidbits that Chandler was named after a friend of Kauffman’s and that Ross’s character was written with David Schwimmer in mind.
It is a lovely case of synchronicity how Lisa Kudrow who was a supporting actress on "Mad About You" (and I loved that show as well) was pointed out by Crane as the best possible actress to play the free-spirited Phoebe.
Even how Jennifer Aniston came from another concurrent show is amazing. At the very end, the casting was perfect.
3. The One Where the Friends Have a Quiz Rematch
In the old series, Chandler and Joey win the apartment, but this time around the girls win. But that is inconsequential. It was a jolly and incredible quiz that featured cameo appearances by
What a jolly quiz. With guests like Mr. Heckles (Larry Hankin), the barbershop quartet, Tom Selleck, and Thomas Lennon who was Joey’s hand twin! It was hilarious.
4. The One with the Big Reveals
It was nice to hear it out in the open that Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer crushed on each other and the rest of the Friends knew or felt it. Leave it to LeBlanc to burst their bubble with a “BS.” But Aniston and Schwimmer did say they channeled that love to their respective characters of Rachel and Ross.
The episode where LeBlanc dislocates his shoulder doesn’t really look obvious until LeBlanc gets up from the couch and one can see how low his left arm had dipped. Watching it all over again… whoa.
Perry’s admission about being frightened when he couldn’t get a laugh or make people laugh (along with the writers’ on the spot re-writes) illustrates how this show made sure they connected to their audiences and that laughter is indeed the best medicine. But while not trying to sound disrespectful, pleasing audiences can be like a drug -- you need that high.
The pre-taping huddle by the cast was a wonderful touch and the one time they didn’t do it, it resulted in LeBlanc dislocating his shoulder. They never missed another huddle.
5. The One Where the Friends Gather Around for a Table Read
The best one was between Aniston and Schwimmer where they re-dramatized one of their famous romantic scenes takes the cake. That long-running sub-plot later showed up with Bright and Kauffman did admit that they had to give what the fans wanted by giving Rachel and Ross a perfect ending.
6. The One Where Fans from All Over the World Shared Their Love for the Show
BTS. David Beckham. Lady Gaga. Malala Yousafzai. Kit Harrington. And fans from Mexico, Ghana, France, India, Germany, Slovakia, and South Korea among others goes to show what a cultural phenomenon the show was and remains to this day.
You have to love what the show meant to these people about love, friendship, and how laughter can get one out of deep wells of funk.
7. The One Where Lisa Kudrow and Lady Gaga duet on 'Smelly Cat'
That was quite a surprise in terms of cameo appearances and it was incredible. Phoebe’s classic never sounded better.
Can we say, “Come on, Lady Gaga, record it now. This has hit single written all over it.”
"Friends: The Reunion" ended on a proper note when host James Corden asked if there will ever be a new episode or film. Leave it to Kudrow to emphatically close this topic by saying that Bright and Kauffman would have to unravel a lot of “good things” that ended the series. And that it didn’t look good for her age at the moment where she would be ‘floopy.”
The perfect end to "Friends" is this -- "Friends: The Reunion." It’s trip down memory lane created even more and lasting memories for everyone.