Is the 'Friends' Reunion Worth Watching?

"Friends" Reunion


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"Friends" Reunion

The One With a 'Friends' Reunion

The buzz about HBO Max’s “Friends” reunion has been going on since before the pandemic (which, as we all know, was about a million years ago). But now it’s debuting on the streaming service May 27 with all six stars — Courteney Cox (Monica), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), David Schwimmer (Ross), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler), and Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) — returning to the sets for Central Perk and their jumbo-sized New York City apartments to remember the good old days. After taking an early look, we have answers to your questions about it, including whether it’s worth spending almost two hours of your time watching. (Spoiler alert: It’s complicated.)

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"Friends" Reunion Hugging

There Was a Lot of Crying

Almost as soon as the special starts, so do the waterworks, and more than one cast member is moved to tears just by walking around the old sets. But even though Aniston asked where the tissue box was seconds after she arrived at the reunion, tears were dabbed away quickly. (After all, who wants to stop filming to touch up makeup?)

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"Friends" Couch in Coffee Shop
David Schwimmer on "Friends" Set
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images CC

The First Star to Arrive Is Probably Who You’d Expect

Schwimmer is the first to arrive on set, and everyone else in the core group of six makes their way to the stage eventually. The early arrival gave the actor a moment to take in the scenery. It was probably more emotional for him than for viewers, who may have noted that only a few minutes in, the show was feeling a tad bloated.

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"Friends" Huddle

The Before-Filming Huddle Was More Important Than We Knew

The get-together gives the cast a chance to reminisce, and it turns out that there are some notable stories some of us might have missed the first time around. While most of us have heard that the stars gathered for a huddle before filming weekly episodes, LeBlanc (Joey) gives an excellent explanation why — and there is some video footage to elaborate on his story. Warning: It may make some viewers squeamish.

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Justin Bieber

There Are More Special Guests Than You’d Expect

Some cameos on the special are surprises (previously announced were BTS, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, David Beckham, and Malala Yousafzai) and some are faces familiar from the show itself. A segment on fans around the world is surprisingly touching and reminds you how popular the show was during its initial run — and the huge impact it had on people’s lives. Unfortunately, some of the guest actors who show up to say hello don’t get an opportunity to do much more than that, which is especially disappointing given how much time is wasted on admittedly boring minutiae.

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James Corden
Bruce Glikas/Getty Images CC

James Corden Had a Thankless Job

As soon as it was announced that "The Late Late Show With James Corden" host would be involved with the reunion, social media exploded with, well, irritation that he would oversee the sit-down with all the stars in front of a socially distanced audience. But he does a decent enough job of asking questions about the stars’ favorite episodes, what they remembered about the audition process, and the like.

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Matthew Perry
Mike Pont/Getty Images CC

Matthew Perry Has an Excuse for Slurring His Words

As soon as the reunion trailer was released, fans took note of the actor slurring his words. According to Page Six, he was recovering from dental work. His representatives were quick to point out he isn’t drinking or using drugs, problems that plagued him in the past.

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"Friends" Reunion Sticky Note Game

One of the Stars Is Competitive — And It’s Not Who You Think

One way to engage the cast (and an excuse to bring out some unexpected guests) was a trivia game in which the men faced off against the women (similar to the episode on the show in which the guys win the girls’ apartment). Even though there’s nothing at stake, the cast members had fun — and at least one of them really wanted to win. If you guessed Monica, who showed in episode after episode how much she hated losing, guess again.

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"Friends" Executive Producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane
John Lamparski/Getty Images CC

Executive Producers Do Some Heavy Lifting

Though the main focus is on the stars of the show, executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane bring a lot to the table — so don’t use their time onscreen to get a snack. They do an excellent job of filling in gaps such as how the characters were cast, and even how the show came to be.

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"Friends" 1996
Fotos International/Getty Images CC

There Were Crushes Between Cast Members

You won’t get spoilers here, but it turns out that lumping a bunch of very attractive 20-something actors together on a set can lead to, um, feelings. While there’s more time spent discussing the characters’ on-again, off-again relationships (and trotting out old footage to remind us), this little issue is also discussed and neatly resolved.

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Marcel from Friends
Marcel from Friends by Jeroen Kransen (None)

Marcel the Monkey Was Not Universally Loved

It turns out that Marcel, the capuchin monkey that figures prominently into early seasons with Ross, was not as cuddly (but was just as problematic) as he seemed on the show. It turns out that some cast members loved him, and some thought he was, well, kind of gross.

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David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston "Friends"
Getty Images/Getty Images CC

The Cast Answers Whether Ross and Rachel Were on a Break

Every one of the six core cast members are asked the question that was so pivotal in the third season of the show: Were Ross and Rachel on a break when he had a fling with another woman? Everyone has an answer and delivers it quickly. After all, they’ve had time to think about it (and Schwimmer had already said his piece on the matter).

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The Cast Of Friends 1999-2000 Season
Getty Images/ Getty Images CC

Whether It’s Worth Watching Depends How Much You Loved the Series

At almost two hours, this special is overstuffed with more filler than that orange couch at Central Perk. Did we need special guests telling us about their favorite episodes? Probably not. A lot of the sessions with the cast will remind you of being stuck listening to relatives or friends reminiscing about the good old days (and let’s face it, it’s just as boring here, no matter how much you love the cast). A lot of moments that seemed to be truly interesting, such as the heartfelt reactions of international viewers, are cut too soon to make time for … a star-studded fashion show featuring outfits from the show?

But there's a table read that serves as a powerful reminder of the actors’ chemistry, and bloopers and old show footage that are fascinating — though a hint that rewatching old episodes would likely be more rewarding. If you’re a devoted fan (or are fascinated watching images of the young and old versions of these stars flipping back and forth), every moment may be worth it, bloated or not.

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