Friends: The Reunion is not just nostalgia. The one-and-a-half-hour-long show somewhere becomes a guide that shows people why such a show worked and is still popular after so many years. Yes, the happy tears of seeing your favorite characters and actors on screen reminiscing the good old days is definitely the high point here. But they have constructed this special so skilfully that you might end up realizing those subtle layers which made this show so relatable, despite it being set in a different culture altogether.
There is a small segment in the special where they show us how it became a huge thing for people of a different culture. For some, the show helped them improve their English. For some, it helped them in socializing, others found relief from moments of anxiety, and there was this bit of an Indian guy who said Friends helped him when he was going through suicidal thoughts when his father was down with a critical illness. And for the creative people out there, this special might work as a mighty inspiration to work towards something that is as impactful as Friends, without trying deliberately to achieve any of that.
From a creative point of view, this reunion special gives you that insider view. The makers Marta Kaufman, Kevin S Bright, and David Crane take us through the kind of organic development of the story of the series. I have read in articles that the Monica-Chandler relationship wasn’t there in the initial plans, but it happened due to the response they got for the London episode. And in the special, they have retained that entire take which shows you the moment which surprised the makers and made them pair the two. Similarly, we are shown how they were trying to rectify the already written content and improvise for a better version of humor.
The most endearing part of the show was, of course, the nostalgic elements, and Ben Winston and the team had come up with this idea of making them read the scenes with an intercutting happening to the original scene. Reminding the memories and repeating the stuff we used to say or do was always the fun factor in any reunions, and Winston, with those roundtable readings, recreates that mood. And with all the blooper tapes, they have managed to give us an idea of a lot of events that happened. LeBlanc’s dislocated shoulder was one of them. Schwimmer and Aniston, at one point, talks about the immense crush they had on each other. Matthew Perry talks about how he would just ignore everyone at a party if he happens to run into any of these folks at that party or gathering.
The Reunion special have these multiple formats. The primary one was with James Corden interviewing the cast in front of the fountain we see in the opening credits of Friends. The other one is the reading part, and then we have this casual conversation between the cast. Even though it has this linear structure, the cross-cutting between these formats to narrate makes it very engaging. And they haven’t forgotten to acknowledge some of the other key characters of the series. The number of guests in the show from different parts of the world really gives you an idea that emotions are accepted across the globe in the same way.
Most of us might not have seen the series when it was originally aired. But the content was so alluring that it made us feel like the 7th member of that gang, or I should say we may have labeled ourselves as any of these characters in our gang. From keeping people happy, helping them learn a language, making them want to take charge of the moment, normalizing surrogacy, taking your time to get married, and not making a big deal about the same-sex relationship, when you look back, this wasn’t just a fun show. And this Friends: The Reunion special offers you a closer and deeper look at the way it was created and how it had an impact on the people who created it.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended