It has been 20 years since I graduated from high school. We wanted to have a reunion of few close buddies who are still in touch. The last such reunion we had was in 2019, when a pal from Canada and another from Australia were visiting India during the year-end holiday. Of course, soon Corona virus hit us and we all were trapped in our homes.
Anyways, its not easy to plan reunions, especially if they are not milestone based like decade or score or silver jubilee. And given the current pandemic, it becomes all the more tough. But someone managed to pull the strings and gather the six main stars of the series Friends, in the middle of such a situation, to mark 17 years since airing of the last episode of Friends. Yes, its been 17 long years since Friends went off air during prime time. Although, the re-runs are still happening in half the globe.
The short documentary styled get-together opens with all the cast members visiting the sets of their apartment. We immediately notice that men have aged and put on weight without any qualms and become a soccer-dad, if you will. Matt LeBlanc was already on the ageing process, as we witnessed in Man with a Plan series, playing father roles. David Schwimmer has kept himself fit, and I suspect that’s more to do with his regular fitness regime. Even during the Friends telecast, he showed the least physical variation. Mathew Perry was also seen sporting a white five o’ clock shadow, and a pot belly.
But the same cannot be said for the ladies. Lisa Kudrow and Jennifer Aniston have probably been on a diet regime, but Courteney Cox has shown the most amount of facial variation. Not sure if it’s the botox or she went under a knife, but she has lost that charm and appeal. Not being judgemental here, merely observing!
Among the highlights of the 100+ minute encounter was a short ramp walk towards the end, with a whole lot of celebrities prancing around in some popular costumes worn by the characters in the TV series. And talking about celebrities, we also get to see soccer stars and Nobel prize winners endorse the series. It has been their go-to show when they were on tours or feeling low, as per their own admission.
One of the most interesting part of the documentary style interaction, was the casting. The writers took us through the casting process and what they were looking for, in each of the characters and how they found their six main characters. Another remarkable segment was about how iconic the show Friends has been; the way it has helped people get through tough times like sadness and depression, how it has helped people in certain part of the globe to learn English, and the manner in which it brought camaraderie to the forefront and taught people to love and support their friends and how it has helped to break cultural barriers.
Coming to the interview itself, which was shot next to the fountain of the theme song, was one of the most uninteresting interviews ever. James Corden asked the regular questions about most and least favourite episodes, what was it like working together etc. Some histrionics from the show was replayed and some characters of the show like Gunther and Mr. Heckles made brief blink-and-you-miss appearances. Yes, it was quite sad that they did not even have two minutes to acknowledge them. And among the honorable misses were Paul Rudd, Giovanni Ribisi, Jon Favreau and many more such fantastic actors who were present in more than a few episodes; sometimes entire season.
What I would have liked to know, through James, was how the rest of the five reacted when they got to know that a TV series Joey was being made with the spin-off character from Friends. Were they fine with it, or jealous, or did they demand spin-offs of their own like Ross & Rachel or The Bings with Chandler, Monica and their kids or Buffay Babes with Phoebe and her twin sister! James should have asked about the pay disparity and how Ross fought for equal remuneration and in last two seasons, everyone got paid a million dollar per episode, largely due to his efforts. Maybe, James could have broached some controversial topic to have their reaction when they got to know of the lawsuit regarding the writers room talks brought out by the assistant writer of the show. Yes, some uncomfortable questions should have been asked.
However, even without the above, it’s a must watch for the fans of the show. There are some lump-in-the-throat moments and fun trivia too. The warmth they share is infectious and the closeness of Ross & Rachel will bring a tear to the eyes, as Jennifer & David talk about their proximity towards each other. Lots of ROFL moments, as they take us down memory lane with snippets from the show and few bloopers.
Anyways, the reunion wasn’t meant to reload hysteria. It was probably just a PR event to remind us of the hysteria, as people’s taste changes with time and they tend to like the newer shows like How I Met Your Mother or Big Bang Theory. This reunion was a reminder that, before these hit shows, there was Friends and that nostalgia should remain intact!
As for our reunion, I don’t see that happening. We will have to probably contend ourselves with reliving some of the moments from Friends show, and feel good about it. Or maybe, plan an online reunion over zoom, as that’s the new normal. We cannot afford to fly out and sit on a couch with coffee in our hands at Central Perk.