When the FRIENDS Reunion was announced my excitement was short-lived. The cast and creators had long been clear about their stand on a reunion series/movie—it just wasn’t something they wanted done.
So the sudden news, coupled with the pandemic and HBO’s general quality of original content in recent years just made things seem a little… uncertain.
Boy, am I glad I was wrong.
Pulling together all six iconic actors for the first time in seventeen years (that’s right, it’s been that long) the James Cordon-hosted reunion is a blend of retrospective behind-the-scenes commentary, with a splash of a talk show.
And while recent promotional stuff made it seem like the talk show element may have been the heart of it—what with Corden hosting, and a laundry list of mostly comprising completely unrelated guests—it’s a true achievement that this special managed to keep the TV show at the heart of it all.
The Reunion also graces fans with extensive interviews with creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, as well as executive producer Kevin Bright. Discussing a fair bit on the casting process, as well as revealing new information on the actors at the point of casting, their time on screen is well spent and arguably the best part of this special.
While the “celebrity guests” element of the show feels like a little bit of a stretch, the integrated appearances are fun and well used. It does slow things down a little in the middle, but it serves to amp the last bit up a tad.
The Reunion features a variety of special guests including David Beckham, Justin Bieber, BTS, James Corden, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, Elliott Gould, Kit Harington, Larry Hankin, Mindy Kaling, Thomas Lennon, Christina Pickles, Tom Selleck, James Michael Tyler, Maggie Wheeler, Reese Witherspoon and Malala Yousafzai.
The real success of the show lies in the more natural moments of the cast mingling within themselves while hanging out on the recreated sets of their apartments and Central Perk.
All of them provide insight on their time on the show, and exhibit varying levels of recollective prowess—with Matt LeBlanc easily acing any trivial pursuit challenges followed closely by Jennifer Aniston.
What truly wins the reunion is the clear reason of what has made Friends the pop culture icon it is till today: that they’re all, in some ways, actually their characters. From Matthew Perry’s self-deprecating humour, to David Schwimmer’s and Jennifer Aniston’s reminiscent incidents with each other, and even Lisa Kudrow being attacked by a bug, everything about them seems to suggest life mimicking art.
Side note: the present-day table reads of memorable scenes alone deserve its own series.
If there was an overtone of bittersweet truth, it would be that this gathering may likely never occur again. But, even if nothing else, perhaps this onscreen reunion may prompt their own off-screen ones.
Friends: The Reunion special is now available to stream exclusively on HBO GO