James Corden, the host of the much-anticipated Friends: The Reunion, tosses in some numbers early on. The sitcom, which ran for ten years from 1994 to 2004 and took on a life of its own in the streaming era, has been seen 100 billion times and has an average of 25 million viewers each week. The figures are astounding. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be. On any given day, it is one of Netflix India’s top 10 trending shows. Even without the support of data, though, it is hard to refute its enormous appeal. Everyone has a Friends tale that has nothing to do with the programme and everything to do with themselves.
The public debate has long been filled with speculations regarding a reboot. Even today, a quick Google search will turn up Quora discussions debating the viability of a Friends movie. Only the viewers’ unwavering patience could equal the show’s enduring popularity. All of this paid off when a reunion was announced in February of last year. The cast members all said the same thing on social media: “It’s happening!”
Back then, the intended opulence served as a launchpad for HBO Max, a newsworthy celebration of the streaming service’s acquisition of the Netflix series. Soon after, the world changed. Restrictions and closeness bound the reunion that ultimately took place. It was a hybrid of a reality programme and a documentary, a mix of truth and fantasy.
The special, directed by Ben Winston, was the second time the cast members — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Mathew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Matt LeBlanc — had gotten together since the sitcom ended 17 years ago. They sit against the iconic fountain in front of a live audience for an hour and 40 minutes, gather in the apartment they had walked out for coffee one last time (the set has been meticulously recreated), and reenact the premise of The One with the Embryos (Monica and Rachel are still unaware of Chandler’s profession).
The folks on the couch are in their fifties and no longer have mugs in their hands. Life has taken a toll on them. Chandler is unusually quiet, and Phoebe is irritated by a fly with whom she had previously formed a stronger bond. They need to be reminded of things since they wear glasses. After 17 years, they finally met. However, we are still unable to sit with them.