UNITED STATES—Friends was one of the most popular sitcoms of the nineties, gathering a huge following across the world.
The lives of the six New Yorkers became important to viewers and much of the shows imagery and subject matter swiftly became part of common culture everywhere. Say the words ‘we were on a break’ to anyone of a certain age and you’re likely to get a smile; the relationship between Ross and Rachel seemingly mattered to everyone.
Fans of the show were left thrilled earlier this year when a reunion was announced, a special unscripted episode to air on HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer streaming service.
“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together,” said Kevin Reilly, the chief content officer for HBO Max, in a throwback to the show’s titles which always started with ‘the one with’.
“We are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library.”
Since the show left Netflix at the end of 2019, fans haven’t been able to get all 236 episodes, but once again they’ll be available for legions of old fans, and perhaps a few new ones too.
The recent situation in the wider world has prompted a brief delay in the schedule, but fans must fear not; the show is very much still in the pipeline. Sadly, it has been delayed indefinitely, but a statement by HBO confirms that it is still happening and is a case of ‘when, rather than ‘if’.
“The special will not be available on the streamer on Day 1 of launch. But it is coming,” the statement said. “The cast and producers are all very excited to go into production, as this will be the first time since the show ended that the whole cast will be together.”
The cast has also reportedly been having Zoom meetings, prompting hope that some more unscripted material might be made public soon. It’s all very exciting news for fans who last saw the gang together in 2004 when a final episode saw Ross and Rachel’s relationship reach an emotional conclusion.
Despite not being on our screens for 16 years, Friends is still very much a part of popular culture. Whether it is the wisecracks of Chandler, the stupidity of Joey or the obsessive neatness of Monica, the character traits still draw comparisons to this day. Whatever the cast have gone on to do, they’re always recognizable as their Friends characters over and above all else.
Since the show disappeared from our screens, we’ve seen plenty of media keeping it in the public eye. Matt LeBlanc starred in a spin-off ‘Joey’, which ran for a couple of series but didn’t reach the same heights as its predecessor. They’ve been depicted in games too, with one hardcore fan creating the gang in the 2014 PC release, ‘Sims 4’. In addition, there are two Friends-inspired slot titles on Foxy Games, ‘Friends Scratch’ and ‘Win and Friends’, which both draw inspiration from the show with their imagery and appeal. Even hearing the first few bars of The Rembrandts ‘I’ll Be There For You’, the show’s theme, conjures up images of the six clowning about in a fountain.
Despite being away for 16 years, the logo of Central Perk is still instantly recognizable, especially to residents of Santa Monica and West Hollywood who saw pop-up coffee shops of the iconic ‘Central Perk Coffee and Tea’ on the street in August 2019. When the cast finally gets together is still the big question, but there’s little doubt that they will. After waiting for so long for a reunion, patient fans will hopefully find an extra couple of months just about bearable, and ultimately worth it.