By Lauren Edwards
I’m always nervous about watching a much-hyped show, something that has been spoon fed to us over weeks as a ‘one of a kind’ event, as it will often disappoint. There was much hype on the run up to the recent Friends: The Reunion show and to me, a lot of exaggerated truths to lure in a high viewing audience.
I was a Friends fan from it’s first show in 1994 and throughout its ten seasons over the decade it was aired. This was my hangover show in my 20s, my comfort blanket during first jobs, first break-ups and co-habiting with flatmates. It gave my friends and I something to relate our lives to and it was very funny. And most of us, including me, all had the ‘Rachel haircut’ in the 90s.
I re-watched the box set last year with my 13-year-old daughter, as she became a super fan of the show, and I was pleased to find that it was still very watchable. Although, there is no denying that the show wasn’t very diverse, and that the race and sexuality of the characters is very bland, and you can’t help but wonder how they can all afford to live in Manhattan with the jobs that they do.
We were told that this would be the first time that all six main cast members will have seen each other in 17 years. I find this hard to believe and if you follow any of them on social media (I do – Aniston and Cox) then you will see that they quite often get together. We were being treated as if the sextet had disappeared from public view after the Friends finale, not so. They have all gone on to appear in films, TV programmes of varying success since the show wrapped. Some more successful than others, but still, they’ve always been around.
The show started with each actor arriving at their former set alone, as if it was the first episode of Big Brother. They all seemed to fake shock, hold back tears, although it was quite difficult to gauge the reaction of Cox, Aniston and Schwimmer as their faces didn’t seem able to move very naturally. Perry seemed skittish and out of his comfort zone and with what appeared to be new dentures. Kudrow wanted to show us how unlike Phoebe she was, until her bizarre performance of Smelly Cat with the actual Lady Gaga. And then there was the casually dressed Le Blanc, who appears to have eaten all the pies since stepping down from presenting Top Gear. And as the other five sat in Moca and Rachel’s former living room, battling against each other in a quiz on what storylines they can remember, Le Blanc sat on the sofa looking like your friend’s Dad who has come to collect you from a party and invites himself in for a cup of tea.
It did feel nostalgic and there are some great segments. It was interesting to hear from the show’s creators on how the actors were chosen for each role. I also enjoyed watching the six cast members take part in a table read of their favourite episodes, showing a genuine closeness between the group. What felt contrived was the evening interview with James Corden, the guest appearances, the immature questions, and the completely bonkers fashion show complete with Justin Bieber dressed as a potato!
The sixsome were apparently paid around £2m each to appear in the special and I think a lot of fans will have been disappointed that this money wasn’t better spent on an actual episode. I enjoyed it more than I expected to but also felt a real sadness at the end. Maybe because it is a bit of a lesson in your own mortality to see these familiar faces looking like 50 somethings (well parts of them anyway).