WARNING: This post contains light spoilers from “Friends: The Reunion”
When it was first announced that a “Friends” reunion was happening, most fans couldn’t have BEEN any more excited. But for those hoping for an entirely new episode, similar to the “Parks and Recreation” reunion last year, the special could’ve been a bit disappointing. Here’s the truth though: a scripted reunion was never even really considered.
And for that, the minds behind “Friends” and its reunion special had very specific reasoning. For Ben Winston, who directed HBO Max’s “Friends: The Reunion,” a scripted special wouldn’t have made any sense, given its original premise. So he and “Friends” creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman never discussed any kind of scripted aspect to the special, not even a one-off scene of the characters in the present day.
“No, fundamentally not. No, no, really we wouldn’t. And I think the two best reasons why a new scripted show would be the wrong thing to do — and I say this as a fan, I don’t say this as a producer of the current reunion — is ultimately, Marta [Kauffman] said it great. The show fundamentally is about that time in your life when your friends are your family,” Winston tells TheWrap.
“And when you have a family of your own, the premise of the show is sort of gone. So if they were to do a show today, you know, it would be about a group of moms and dads and, you know, whether they’d be married, whether they’d be divorced, whether they’ve got kids, whether they haven’t got kids. It’s a whole different show to that time in your life where your friends are your family. So fundamentally, ‘Friends’ can’t necessarily exist anymore, because the premise of the show is naturally over when you hit a certain time in your life.”
But it wasn’t just that the entire basis of the show would be different. Even the cast didn’t want to do something scripted, because they were happy with where all six friends were left at the end of the series (something the creators were very intentional about doing).
“[Marta and David] ended the show very nicely, everyone’s lives are very nice, and they would have to unravel all those good things in order for there to be stories,” Lisa Kudrow said when James Corden asked, during the sitdown interview portion of “Friends: The Reunion,” if another episode, or even a movie, had ever crossed her mind.
“Yeah, I don’t want anyone’s happy ending unraveled,” Kudrow added. “Also, at my age, to be saying like ‘floopy?’ Stop. You have to grow up.”
At its core, Winston notes that the reunion special was meant as a “tribute to the show rather than anything else.” And for what it’s worth, fans shouldn’t expect another reunion like this one down the road.
In the final moments of “Friends: The Reunion,” Courteney Cox got extra emotional, reminding her co-stars that this special will likely be the actual last round of press they ever do together for the show.
“This will be the final time that we’re ever asked about the show as a group, that we’ll ever do this. Like, we’re not gonna do this again in 15 more years,” Cox said.
According to Winston, that wasn’t something she was instructed to say as an official note to viewers. It was off the cuff and honest.
“That just came up naturally. I was doing a lot of filming and whatever they said, they said. But I think, Courteney, I understood Courteney’s point. There was always the feeling that maybe one day they would do something as the six together, they just didn’t know what it would be, and this was it,” Winston said.
“And then we were coming to the end of the day and she was like, ‘You know, that’s what makes me emotional, is that we’re not going to do this again.’ So I think that was probably what she was referring to. They are such a tight, amazing group of friends who are so inspiring in the way of how they look after each other and back each other up and support each other. They have this unbreakable bond that is something I’ve never really seen before in any group I’ve ever worked with. And so, yeah, their connection is incredible. And I hope we captured that well on screen.”