After 17 years off-air, the six principal cast members of Friends got back together for Friends: The Reunion, the highly-anticipated unscripted special, now streaming on HBO Go.
On the show — directed by Ben Winston, the executive producer of Late Late Show with James Corden — Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer reflected their time on the sitcom which ran for 10 years and is still being aired/streamed every day all over the world.
Announced in February 2020, Reunion was originally conceived as an incentive to promote then soon-to-be-launched streaming service HBO Max but was delayed countless times by the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until last month that the gang were rounded up for the shoot at the series' original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros Studio lot in Burbank, California.
While hardcore fans will have a blast walking down memory lane, many critics found the reunion unbearably long. Entertainment Weekly said, “Unfortunately, the bloated, 104-minute special sandwiches these flashes of reunion magic between a lot of silly, tiresome filler.”
Is it possible to stage a reunion special in under an hour? Look at Josh Gad: if he could pull off the virtual cast reunions — of Back to the Future, The Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid — on his YouTube show Reunited Apart, why couldn’t HBO Max do the same?
Then again, when each Friend received a reported US$2.5 mil (S$3.3 mil)-US$3 mil (S$4 mil) for the special, you’re expected to put on a grand show, which includes a Q&A conducted in front of a live audience, moderated by James Corden; random cameos by past guests and celeb fans (David Beckham is self-confessed clean freak like Monica; BTS learnt English from watching the sitcom); Lady Gaga performing 'Smelly Cat'; and an unnecessary Friends-inspired fashion parade.
Reunion works best when the actors are left on their own to reminisce without the extraneous distractions. That said, the introspection could’ve gone a little deeper, like addressing the show’s lack of diversity, the dark side of fame (no mention of Perry’s battle with drug addiction), and their post-Friends career (no mention of Joey?)
From behind-the-scenes mishaps to a secret love affair on set, here are 10 revelations we learnt from the reunion show...