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Friends Image Credit: NBC

The One Where They Become Famous

By Bindu Rai, Entertainment Editor

It’s hard to recall a time when ‘Friends’ wasn’t a part of our lives. First aired on September 22, 1994, the sitcom opened to negative reviews before turning into a cultural phenomenon and changing television history forever.

At its peak, the six lead stars of the series, namely Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green), Courteney Cox (Monica Geller), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani), Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing), and David Schwimmer (Ross Geller), were the highest paid actors on television, famously negotiating their contracts together for a better and equal pay out.

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'Friends'. Image Credit: NBC

When the series finally bowed out on May 6, 2004, more than 52 million Americans watched the finale, with countless others watching ‘Friends’ even today through reruns on TV and across streaming platforms in several markets across the globe, including Netflix in the UAE.

Explaining the phenomenon of 'Friends'
The phenomenon of ‘Friends’ defied industry predictions at the time, with many attempting to dissect its popularity over the decades. Was it the show’s ability to reach a younger audience, appealing to the 20-somethings who saw a bit of themselves in the six friends living it up in New York? Was it the sharp humour and witty repertoire? Or was it simply the fact that the lead cast were exceptionally good looking?
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'Friends'. Image Credit: NBC

While the answer perhaps lies somewhere in between the reasons shared, the series made the stars overnight sensations, while sparking trends including Aniston’s hairstyle that became ‘The Rachel’ and Joey’s catchphrase ‘How you doin’? catapulting itself into one of the most used pick-up lines around.

With the much-delayed cast reunion coming at a time when the world needs a bit of cheer on the tails of a global pandemic, here’s a look at everything we know about the unscripted episode and our favourite moments from ‘Friends’ over 10 seasons.

The One with the Reunion

By Bindu Rai, Entertainment Editor

Friends: The Reunion Image Credit: HBO Max

‘Friends: The Reunion’, which is titled ‘The One Where They Get Back Together’, will reunite the six lead cast members in an unscripted special that is being hosted by actor-comedian James Corden.

Aniston, Cox, Perry and the gang have reunited for the first time in 17 years on the original Warner Bros soundstage, Stage 24 for the one-time special.

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Friends Image Credit: NBC

The trailer has given fans a glimpse of what is to come, with the cast doing a walkthrough the set that served as Monica’s loft in New York, while also appearing to play a version of that infamous quiz in season 4 of the show that saw the Geller sibling and her roommate Rachel lose the apartment to Chandler and Joey.

The cast also appear to do a reading from one of the most famous episodes of the show, ‘The One Where Everyone Finds Out’ that saw the group learn that Monica and Chandler were secretly dating.

Along the way, some cast regulars do make an appearance, including Tom Selleck who played Monica’s much older boyfriend Richard Burke, along with Maggie Wheeler who played the annoying Janice “Oh my god” Hosenstein.

Several celebrity guests are also set to make an appearance including Cara Delevingne, David Beckham, Justin Bieber, Reese Witherspoon, Lady Gaga, BTS and many more.

How UAE fans can watch 'Friends: The Reunion'
‘Friends: The Reunion’ will air in the UAE at the same time as it will screen in the US on May 27. Fans in the UAE will be able to catch ‘The One Where They Get Back Together’ at 11am GST on OSN Streaming, which is 3am ET when it will stream on HBO Max in the US. Fans can also catch the special in the UAE on OSN Demand.


Gulf News editors pick their favourite moments from ‘Friends’

By Bindu Rai, Entertainment Editor

I’m not quite sure when ‘Friends’ became a part of my life. Maybe it was a familiar face that gave me comfort when I was studying thousands of miles away from home. Or perhaps when they got me laughing till I cried, when the only option available was to curl up and weep. They became my friends, somehow, sharing hope, joy and little bit of snark as the years went by. Today, life has come full circle with ‘Friends’ giving me a reason to bond with my 12-year-old niece who is just discovering that bit of magic that has held millions under its spell.

The One with the Cop: Ross Geller screaming “Pivot, PIVOT!” is pure television gold that continues to draw the laughs even today with equal abandon. The scene, which aired on season five of the series, is also perhaps one of the most real moments of ‘Friends’. Three friends struggling to carry a too-large couch up a narrow flight of stairs in New York; what could go wrong? With Chandler Bing and Rachel Green in on the struggle, the endless command to ‘Pivot’ by Ross leaves us in splits even today. David Schwimmer went on record to say that was the funniest moment of ‘Friends’ he ever shot.

The One With Unagi: Chandler Bing probably had the wittiest lines on the show but it was Schwimmer who emerged as the funniest actor. ‘The One With Unagi’, which aired on season six of the series, saw Rachel and Phoebe all charged up after returning from a self-defence class. But Ross being Ross thought it was time to take matters into his own hands, what with his own expertise in “Ka-Ra-Tay”. Which is when he decides to got into the concept of “Unagi”, which he describes as a state of complete awareness. A few scenes later, watching him get beaten up by the girls is a riot.

Friends Image Credit: NBC

The One Where No One’s Ready: One of the best moments in season three. Ross is anxious to reach a work function on time and is eager for the friends to get ready for the big event. But that’s the night Chandler decides to hide all of Joey’s underwear. In retaliation, Joey puts on all of Chandler’s clothes that he can get his hands on. The chemistry between Joey and Chandler is pure perfection. And watching Joey mouth that famous line: “Could I be wearing any more clothes?” still leaves us in splits.

By Jennifer Barreto, Assitant Editor, Features

Would I be considered a fan of ‘Friends’? Maybe not. I can’t recall exact quotes from the series nor can I tell you what happened in particular seasons. However, whether I like it or not, the show has been a part of my life in some way or the other. It was the one show that was always playing on TV as reruns so it was my constant friend when I was bored and had nothing else to watch. When I was stressed out and wanted to give my brain a break, I knew I could watch any random episode and get a few laughs out it. Also, as someone who has a fascination for the 80s and 90s, the show is a source of wonder for me — I want to see all the fashion, the kitschy interior decor and — of course — the hairstyles. I wouldn’t say that ‘Friends’ has impacted my life in a major way, but it’s certainly always there for me when I need it.

Friends Image Credit: NBC

The One on the Last Night: In this episode, Rachel is packing her stuff to prepare to move out of the apartment she shares with Monica. In typical BFF fashion, they end up arguing. However, they quickly make up as they remember all the things they love about each other. It’s touching and special because we’ve seen their relationship bloom through the show in that very apartment and things are going to change. We know Monica is preparing to enter her new life with Chandler and that her friendship with Rachel will still be strong, but it’s hard not to tear up as they close this chapter as flatmates.

The One Where Ross Got High: Who can forget the epic fail that was Rachel making the beef trifle? It all begins with Monica letting Rachel make the dessert for Thanksgiving. What the culinary challenged Rach was not prepared for, however, was the cookbook pages to be stuck together leading to her adding the wrong ingredients to the layered dish. Need a reminder of when went into the trifle-Shepherd’s pie hybrid? There were ladyfingers, jam, custard, raspberries, beef sauteed with peas and onions, bananas and then whipped cream. The episode is a comedy of errors and you can see the gags coming from a mile away, but it’s still so much fun to watch.

By Manjusha Radhakrishnan Assistant Editor, Features

There’s an adage that goes something on the lines of ‘You can never choose your family, but you can always choose your friends’. I couldn’t agree more as I chose to spend a good part of my 20s in the company of ‘Friends’, the fictional but fabulous sextet. It’s safe to say that ‘Friends’ ruined it for me as I began to look for these fabulous six — Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey or Chandler — prototypes in the potential friends I meet. This good-looking bunch, who entertained us for a whopping 10 seasons, may have lacked boundaries in their friendship, but their series made us realise that it’s OK if your friends are your soulmates for life. Their camaraderie and the way they used to pull each other’s chains with a mix of sarcasm and genuine love for each other made them the portrait of how fulfilling comrades in life can get. Thank you universe, for gifting us ‘Friends’. Family may shape our identity, but they taught us how wonderful companions and camaraderie can be.

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Friends Image Credit: NBC

The One Where Everybody Finds Out: Monica and Chandler are secretly dating, but Rachel and Phoebe are intent on making them admit that they are seeing each other clandestinely. The scenes in which Phoebe pretends to be attracted to Chandler to arm-twist him into admitting that he’s romantically involved with her best friend Monica is comic gold. When Chandler eventually caves in and declares that he loves Monica and is not merely dating her will melt even the most hardened, cynical hearts. Plus, Phoebe’s questionable art of seduction and her idea of feminine wiles will just make you laugh. “The messers becomes the mess-ies” is my favourite one-liner as Phoebe manages to win the battle of wills.

The One With The Embryos: Ross as this stoic and wicked quiz master who puts together questions for his friends on how well they know each other is hilarious. Monica and Rachel are in one team, while Chandler and Joey are in the opposition. The manner in which the quiz heats up and the stakes become high — when a super-aggressive Monica puts her fancy apartment as a winner is one of the highlights. The questions are smart and funny and makes you wonder how is that none of his friends know what job Chandler holds? Their collective dynamic, their co-dependence, their chemistry with each other is what shone through.

By Shyama Krishna Kumar, Pages Editor

Although the ‘Friends’ originally aired at a time when I absolutely should have been all over a show like that, somehow the cultural zeitgeist completely passed me by. It was only as a full-grown almost-30-year-old that I finally found myself being pulled into the superhit show that almost anyone and everyone was constantly quoting stuff from. And it’s safe to say I’ve never looked back. What’s not to like about a show that tells the story of six friends who through the ups and downs of fresh adulthood together? Whether its work, love or just plain goofing around, the nostalgia for a time when we had fewer cares and a cup of coffee with friends could make everything right is definitely strong.

The One With All The Resolutions: I will forever stand by the fact that no one on the ‘Friends’ cast can be funnier than David Schwimmer. In this episode, Ross is still dealing with his divorce with Emily, and decides to start the New Year by making the resolution to try something new every day. On this particular day, he tries leather pants on his first date with one Elizabeth Hornawaggle, only to use the bathroom at one point in the date and realise he can’t get his pants back on. The ensuing hilarity features Ross desperately calling Joey for help, and some of the best physical humour of the entire show.

The One with the Rumor: ‘Friends’ was always known for its impressive roster of guest stars. But no other guest generated quite as much hype as Brad Pitt, who at the time was married to Jennifer Aniston. Appearing in the show as one of Ross’ old schoolmates, Will Colbert, the Thanksgiving episode revealed that Ross and Colbert were on a ‘I Hate Rachel’ club in high school, and that the two were responsible for spreading the rumour that Rachel was a hermaphrodite (the show was later criticised for deeply insulting the intersex community). However, the episode stands out for Pitt’s standout performance and playing completely against type as he rages against his real-life wife. A memorable quote from his character: “Look at her standing there with those yams. My two greatest enemies, Ross. Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates”.