Spoiler Alert: This story contains spoilers for “Friends: The Reunion”, now available on Crave.
After the year that we had, could we to be more excited to spend time with our friends? In groups of five from a distance, of course. It’s not quite having coffee at Central Perk with Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, and Joey, but these days you take what you can get.
And what we get from HBO Max via Crave is a special “Friends” reunion – a chance to watch Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc reminisce about what it was like to be. on it the juggernaut soars to stardom and is reminiscent of some of their favorite moments from the series, both on and off screen.
Maybe that’s a good thing, because while “Friends” has undeniably changed the landscape of the sitcom, some of it (lots of lines tinged with gay panic, lots of “jokes” about how Monica was big and that’s it, it’s the punchline) do not hold up very well. And of course, even though the show was supposed to take place in various New Yorks, it was famous as snow white, something that just wouldn’t fly today and, frankly, shouldn’t have then.
Despite all this, when “Friends” was good, it was very good. And this special is no different.
The reunion begins quietly as one by one the six actors stroll around the reconstructed set, marvel at how everything looks alike, and sit down to chat. Although they say they still speak regularly, it’s a bit shocking to see them all in the giant Manhattan rent-controlled apartment that time has forgotten with their silver hair, wrinkles, and Botox. But as they begin to share their memories, things start to look familiar to them.
If there is a quibble, it is because the format of the reunion seems a little tinkered with.
For example, those intimate conversations with the cast as they revisit the set collide with the more traditional interviews with series creators and producers Marta Kauffman, David Crane, and Kevin Bright, which reveal a bit of the casting process and what it was to be caught up in the mania of “friends”.
The biggest misstep, however, is the part that is filmed in front of an audience with James Corden as the obedient and over-enthusiastic MC. It seems forced and awkward, and the visits of actors Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles (Ross and Monica’s parents), Maggie Wheeler (Chandler’s annoying girlfriend, Janice) and James Michael Tyler (Gunther cafe barista) are stuck. between questions from the audience and a really bizarre fashion show with Cara Delevingne, Justin Bieber and Cindy Crawford (always gorgeous).
It is, however, what fans of TV’s greats will / won’t get a hefty chunk of juicy gossip when asked friends if any of them have ever had feelings. in love for each other. Schwimmer and Aniston laugh and stutter and reveal they are “crushing hard,” but Schwimmer claims nothing happened because they were still a couple. Here, LeBlanc coughs to cover his response of “Bulls – t!” ”
Corden, never the subtle type, asks, “Am I the only one whose mind is blown away by this?” Aniston blushes and says gently, “We just channeled all of our love and adoration for each other into Ross and Rachel.” So. Ross and Rachel were probably inspired by an actual crush, to say the least.
There are also pre-filmed interviews with some of the show’s most famous fans sharing their favorite episodes. Football star David Beckham, “Game of Thrones” actor Kit Harington and activist Malala Yousafzai stand out. These interviews are interspersed with today’s cast reading past scripts, including the scene where Chandler describes peeing on Monica to cure a jellyfish sting, the moment Ross needed help moving her couch and my Favorite, the episode where Joey and Chandler fight over a chair comes back to Joey wearing all of Chandler’s clothes.
There’s also a weird (but not intrusive) re-enactment of the quiz in which Monica and Rachel compete with Joey and Chandler to see who gets the big apartment, along with several special guests, a catchy rendition of Phoebe’s epic folk song “Smelly Cat. “which you’ll go gaga over and, in what seems like an overcompensation for the show’s lack of diversity, interviews from fans around the world describing what the show meant to them.
Ultimately, it’s hard not to feel a little emotional when Cox says it’s probably the last time they’ll talk about the show together in this way, or when Perry explains how great it is. to see one of his comrades at a party, knowing that they will spend the whole night catching up.
It’s the best parts of the special that feel the most intimate and revealing. The camera lingers behind that famous orange sofa, looking with friends, not towards them, and it almost feels like listening to private conversations and intimate, unattended moments.
In one of those moments, Perry, who has long struggled with drugs and alcohol, admits he suffered from anxiety and often felt like he would die if he couldn’t laugh. . In another, Kudrow, arguably one of the show’s most skillful actors, reveals that she hates watching herself act.
When the audience isn’t around and only the six primary friends are talking to each other, you can tell that they really enjoy being together and supporting each other no matter what. That’s when you see that what makes this show special is that they’re all really friends.
Maybe the pandemic made me sweet, but really all we want is to hang out with our friends again.
What to watch next …
Enough sentimentality! When you’re done with the “Friends” reunion, we’ve lined up three more great sitcoms that are worth a reunion or maybe even another season.
“Happy Endings” (Amazon Prime)
“Happy Endings” premiered in 2011 on ABC with a bang. But over the course of three seasons, this show about a group of friends in Chicago has gained a reputation for quick jokes, wild but realized characters, and goofy storylines.
Like “Friends”, “Happy Endings” begins with a scenario of a runaway bride. Alex and Dave are about to say “yes” when she gets cold feet and leaves him at the altar. But where Rachel has never looked back, Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) returns to the fold. And their tight-knit group, including Dave (Zachary Knighton), gay slacker Max (Adam Pally), perpetually single Penny (Casey Wilson) and married couple Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Alex Jane’s sister (Eliza Coupe) , all swear to overcome the awkwardness and to remain friends.
Much of the reason the series is so beloved is due to the absolutely crackling chemistry of the cast. But on “Happy Endings,” the plots were incidental, because at its heart, the show was just a joke machine, spewing out setups, punchlines and pop culture references so fast you could never get them. catch them all from the first session. It’s a show that rewards multiple views (I watched it three times during the pandemic, once in each wave) and it really should have seen all the success that “Friends” had.
Sadly, the network tinkered with its schedule, audiences plummeted, and ABC canceled it in 2013. And the hugely dedicated fan base never got over it. Rumors of a reboot lingered for years until last July, when Zoom’s obsession with the pandemic provided them with an easy way to reunite one last time for a special charity episode.
Sometimes you have to admire British television: come in, make people laugh, come out. This 2016 UK Channel 4 series about a 20 and 30 year old group living together in an abandoned hospital was written and created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And she’s cornered the market for TV shows that are both emotionally devastating and also funny in a way. (See also: “Fleabag” on Amazon Prime.) Waller-Bridge’s greatest superpower comes across as the least likeable character and yet somehow you desperately want that character to be happy. and good.
In “Crashing”, her Lulu is the intruder who arrives in search of work and accommodation. She meets her close friend Anthony (Damien Molony), a chef who is engaged to the cornered event planner Kate. Although Lulu and Anthony insist that they are just friends, Kate (Louise Ford) rightly suspects that there is a story and maybe a future there. Meanwhile, sex-crazed Sam (Jonathan Bailey) just lost his father and becomes intrigued by Fred (Amit Shah), a gay man who wants to be his friend. The group is completed by French artist Melody (Julie Dray), who discovered her muse in Colin (Adrian Scarborough), an older divorcee whose pain is his inspiration.
Packed with chaotic energy and scathing humor, the series manages to examine relationships, sexuality, and the responsibility that comes with it in adulthood in just six half-hour episodes. The abrupt, ambiguous ending is another hallmark of Waller-Bridge’s shows: just when you’re hooked, he slips away, cheekily stares at the camera, and raises an eyebrow as if to say, “I’m not a stinker?” ”
“Living Single” (not available in streaming, but should be)
Last year, David Schwimmer intervened in an interview with The Guardian when he commented on the lack of diversity in “Friends”, saying he didn’t think it was much of a problem, but what can. be there should be a black version of “Friends”. It didn’t take long for almost everyone to let them know that in fact, “Friends” was the white version of “Living Single”.
The show about Six Friends Sharing a Brooklyn Brownstone premiered on Fox in 1993, a year before Friends started hogging the Central Perk sofa. And while the characters in “Friends” were almost all employed on the fringes, “Living Single” offered something different: role models.
Queen Latifah, who played the role of editor-in-chief of Khadijah magazine, had the job I wanted. Kim Coles was her aspiring actress cousin Synclaire, Kim Fields played fashion buyer Régine and Erika Alexander was Khadijah’s best friend, Maxine, a witty and sarcastic lawyer. TC Carson and John Henton played neighbors Kyle and Overton.
While you can watch the show on Hulu in the US, “Living Single” is not available to stream anywhere in Canada. And that’s a real shame because the clips available on YouTube show how this show is holding up.
The years have not dulled his lively humor; his commentary on breed in America is more relevant than ever and there are some awe-inspiring and striking performances communicated almost exclusively through facial expressions.
“Living Single” recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and if ever a show was prepared for a comeback or a big special reunion, this would be it. But in the meantime, I’ll settle for a streaming service in Canada offering the original broadcast.