Reunion special: What could have happened to the Friends?
A Friendly reminder, it’s time to start losing your mind! We’re on track for a TV moment of the decade on Thursday
WE CAN CONTAIN ourselves no longer. Our six best Friends are returning to the screen in their natural habitat for the first time in 17 years. What a wait it has been. Almost since the 2004 finale the appetite for Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry to reunite as their most famous alter egos: Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Joey and Chandler has been snowballing. You’d think 10 seasons in 10 years on a major network like NBC would have satisfied fans, but you’d be wrong. We always want more. Syndication and streaming services like Netflix cottoned onto the fact they could satiate our desire with reruns ad infinitum and, helped by the gargantuan 236 episodes available, they have kept us from storming the studios thus far. Now the time for compromise is over. The 2016 A Tribute To James Burrows tiptoe down memory lane teased us, but this is the big one. In the UAE this week, OSN will be broadcasting Friends: The Reunion special, a mix of interviews, funny celebrity guest segments and never-before-seen BTS clips. It’ll provide ample opportunity for the cast to reminisce about the programme which made them superstars and, for the audience, an occasion to become enveloped in the very sentiments for which we continue to watch the show: nostalgia, comfort and laughter. In preparation we have rustled up our Char-actor development: what happened to the actor and what could have happened to the character since the Friends finale?
Phoebe Buffay/ Lisa Kudrow
Character: It’s 2010 and funk duo The Phoebe and Mike Experience are playing their third sold-out night at Madison Square Garden. Backstage Phoebe asks Mike: “If oranges are called oranges, why aren’t bananas called yellows?” Mike looks puzzled. “Also, how long do you think we can keep playing for?” she adds. Cut to late 2021, TPAME are back at the same venue for a post-pandemic celebration concert.
Actor: Lisa Kudrow took the BBC’s genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? to America and, as executive producer, made millions. On top of the Friends residuals, she has been able to do exactly as she pleases.
Ross Geller/ David Schwimmer
Character: As long as nobody has touched his sandwich, we’re guessing Ross has kept his nose clean. Not believing his good fortune he actually did end up with everything he’d ever wanted, even bumping into Susan at family get-togethers must be small penance for his eventual lot. A job for life at NYU will see the regular very low-yield bond investments mature just as he hits retirement age where Ross chooses to reacquire the drop-top MG for maple candy runs up to Vermont every other weekend.
Actor: The London stage and directing have graced Schwimmer’s CV, though we very much enjoyed his Robert Kardashian in The People v. O.J. Simpson (2016) and CIA operative Jerry Bernstein in 2020’s Intelligence, which you can watch on Starzplay now.
Monica Geller/ Courteney Cox
Character: When we left the crew, the mum of adopted newborn twins was just about to give a brand new house in Westchester her own brand of sanitary treatment making it not just clean, but ‘Monica clean’. With Chandler in tow, the pair were on the hunt for a slice of Americana the others thought impossible in this day and age. If getting away with living illegally for well over a decade in a rent-controlled apartment in her grandmother’s name tells us anything, though, it’s that Monica’s lucky. We imagine she, Chandler and the kids made that slice of Hudson Valley a model of ‘50s living; world’s best cookies and all. We bet there hasn’t been a single day of traffic getting into the city since 2004 either.
Actor: After Friends it was all about Cougar Town for Cox, which had an impressive six season run on TBS. A Facebook Watch documentary series, 9 Months With Courteney Cox, has been the actor’s more recent concern and a return to the Scream franchise is on the cards next year.
Chandler Bing/ Matthew Perry
Character: Without Joey’s financial upkeep a constant obligation we believe Chandler has become a multi-millionaire. The brains behind Netflix’s ‘ther-dum’ jingle, he made his advertising company (who were in charge of the account) rich beyond their wildest dreams and was able to retire early on the bonus. Subsequently buying up Archie Comics, despite owning the publication, the wannabe comedy writer is still waiting to have one of his ideas published. Maybe Joey’s return to live in the garage* will provide inspiration. *See below.
Actor: We never got over Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip’s 2007 cancellation and maybe Perry didn’t either. The actor hasn’t done a tremendous amount apart from a 2015 reboot of The Odd Couple. We’re expecting many a revelation on the Reunion special.
Joey Tribbiani/ Matt LeBlanc
Character: The one Friend for whom their immediate future after leaving Central Perk’s bosom was documented, as we all or at least a few of us are aware (the spinoff ratings were never very good) Joey moved to Los Angeles to further his movie star potential. Settling in with his sister Gina and her son, a tumultuous couple of years saw the dimwitted, loveable womaniser morph into the head of a household, book regular TV work and form a desire to settle down with his next door neighbour. We never had the opportunity to see how this played out, but we’re sure/ hoping it didn’t last. We believe after Joey’s celebrity grew he was able to move back to New York, land some stage work and make good on the use of his ‘Joey Room’ above the garage at Chandler and Monica’s. In our mind he was granted permission to purchase an aquarium. Maybe not the swing.
Actor: After the spinoff, Joey, LeBlanc took a break from acting before returning to UK-US coproduction Episodes where he played an altered version of himself. For this he earned a Golden Globe, a feat which eluded him on Friends, and won over critics with his at times close-to-the-bone darkly humorous portrayal of events based on real life.
Rachel Green/ Jennifer Aniston
Character: She didn’t get on the plane and thus consigned herself to life with Ross, their child Emma and presumably a trip back to Mr. Zelner’s office to resume her job at Ralph Lauren -- nothing another dinosaur trinket couldn’t smooth over. We can’t see much would have changed for Rachel. Potential bankruptcy stemming from the online shopping boom aside, could she and Ross have made new friends to join them on the coffee house sofa? Perish the thought!
Actor: Arguably the most successful of the group, Aniston went into movies and never looked back until 2019’s Apple TV+ The Morning Show came calling. Star turns in Dumplin’ (2018) and Horrible Bosses (2011) remain our favourites.