REVIEW: ‘Friends: The Reunion,’ The One With All The Nostalgia

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Friends: The Reunion

If you were watching TV in the 90s, and you took a poll of people’s favorite shows from that period, you can absolutely bet that Friends was in that top 5. It’s been 17 years since the emotional finale saw Ross and Rachel finally find each other, and Monica left and Chandler left their infamous apartment with their new born adopted twins. Now after sufficing with only syndication to tide rabid fans over, the crew of the hit series is back for Friends The Reunion exclusively on HBO Max.

Friends was a Warner Brothers developed show that aired for 10 years on NBC during 1994-2004. The show was co-created, and produced by David Crane, Marta Kauffman, and Kevin Bright. The essence of Friends was centrally focused on six characters in their early twenties as they navigate the obstacles of life while living in New York City as a group. The cast featured Rachel Green (Jennifer Anniston), Monica Geller (Courtney Cox), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), and Ross Geller (David Schwimmer).

The reunion documentary brings together the core cast back after their 17 year hiatus. The documentary itself is split up into multiple different formats with part of the show focused on the cast on the original set reminiscing about their experiences, with another section set up as a host led Q&A via James Corden.

Friends as a show had an monumental impact on pop culture at the time it was on the airwaves, and what was fascinating about this documentary was to hear the stories from this group of actors. The cast talks about how they ended up on the show via the casting process, and that they only met each other for the first time during the pilots table read. Each member recounts how flawed they were at the talent from the others, and how the show was imbued with a sense genuineness.

What was probably most surprising, and entirely heart warming, was hearing from the group at how they really clicked as a family. The six co-stars ate lunch together everyday, and even spent their weekends together. Schwimmer recalls that this found family situation thrived because they were the only other people who understood what it was like on set, and what that level of fame was like in the real world.

The documentary itself excels in these moments of honesty, and as a fan myself, I thrived on those moments. Like when LeBlanc recounts during the second episode of season three titled “The One Where No One’s Ready” when Joey and Chandler fight over possession of a chair, but during the filming LeBlanc actually dislocated his shoulder during the 3rd shooting.

From here the reunion explodes into blooper territory and behind the scene moments that will have even the most hardened cynic cackling. I myself was howling at the additional footage of the infamous “PIVOT” scene. There is a lot of great footage to laugh, and smile at.

Where the show struggles when compared with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Reunion, is that it tries to accomplish too much in its one hour and fourty four minute run time. Context of the shows worldwide impact is evidenced by global fans testimony of how the show influenced their lives. Additionally, there are also celebrity testimonials featuring David Beckham, Mindy Kahling, and Kit Harrington as they discuss their favorite episode. While this gives you a look into how far reaching this show was, ultimately it subtracts from the spirit of what the documentary was about. Again, when compared with Fresh Prince, that was a documentary that really found a great balance with discussion, nostalgic callbacks, and behind the scene footage.

Overall, Friends The Reunion left me with a feeling of utter contentment that I got to be a part of this cultural moment when I was younger. The format of the show does suffer some bumpy moments as it loses focus of the core cast, and becomes a little too saturated with celebrity involvement. All that being said, it was fantastic viewing, and it’s gratuitous nostalgia at its utter peak. I’d recommend it for anyone who’s watched the show.

Friends The Reunion is available now exclusively on HBO Max.

Friends: The Reunion
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Overall, this reunion show left me with a feeling of utter contentment that I got to be a part of this cultural moment when I was younger. The format of the show does suffer some bumpy moments as it loses focus of the core cast, and becomes a little too saturated with celebrity involvement. All that being said, it was fantastic viewing, and I’d recommend it for anyone who’s seen the show.