Written by Kimmy Sokol
May 6th, 2004: The day our six friends said goodbye. After 236 episodes, 10 seasons, nine weddings, and a complicated Ross and Rachel relationship, the beloved show ended. After 17 years, the Friends cast only reunited once, until the filming of the HBO Max special that aired on May 27th.
The original cast of Friends got a flash from the past, gathering on Stage 24 (which has been renamed the “Friends Stage”) to reminisce on memories they had while filming the show.
The reunion truly had everything a Friends fan would want. From Joey wearing all of Chandler’s clothes again, the revival of the classic trivia game where Rachel and Monica lost their apartment, and many surprise guest appearances.
The reunion opens up right where Friends ended. Monica and Chandler are getting ready to move, Ross and Rachel finally have gotten back together, Phoebe and Mike are ready to start their family, and Joey is ready to take on the world. We then flash forward to the present day where all six characters get to grace Stage 24 again as they all get overly emotional about being back together again. Jennifer Aniston, who plays Rachel Green, embraced her true character form as she cried throughout most of the episode, just as Rachel would.
We see constant segues between James Cordon interviewing the cast and the cast talking about their favorite memories from the show. Creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane and executive producer and director Kevin Bright talk about how they came up with the show and the casting process of all six friends. We also find out that Matthew Perry (Chandler) and Aniston were actually cast in another show and were almost never in Friends at all! One of the most emotional parts of the reunion was when actors Elliott Gloud and Christine Pickles made their appearance. Gloud and Pickles played Monica and Ross’s parents, and in the reunion, they discussed how they loved Friends and how they even acted like the characters’ real-life parents.
We also saw table read of iconic episodes like when everyone finds out about Chandler and Monica and when Joey pees on Monica after a jellyfish sting, and we even got the recreation of Rachel and Ross’s first kiss. Celebrities also made appearances, from Justin Bieber modeling Ross’s potato Halloween outfit to a killer duet between Lady Gaga and Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) singing “Smelly Cat.”
While agreeing that Ross and Rachel truly were on a break, Aniston and David Schwimmer (Ross) discuss how they actually had feelings for each other in real life. Schwimmer describes it as two paths that just never met as they were both in relationships at the time of them crushing on each other. Aniston agrees and also adds how they would cuddle on the couch between takes. As Aniston and Schwimmer sadly never got together in real life, they put all of their feelings into the iconic Ross and Rachel love scene to make the relationship seem real on screen.
The reunion ends with the cast agreeing to never do a reunion show again since they feel it’ll lose value 17 years after this reunion. The cast agrees however not to wait 17 years before their next get-together as they truly became family because of the show.
The Friends reunion really shows you how great this show was in the mid-’90s into the early 2000s. Each character is easy to relate to and, as the theme song says, the show teaches you how your friends will always be there for you. For any Friends fan, this is an episode you won’t want to miss. You’ll be laughing, crying, and beaming with joy for the entire hour and 45 minutes.
The Friends Reunion is now streaming on HBO MAX.