The universal appeal of FRIENDS Reunion

It was during the summer of 2017 that I first properly experienced the F.R.I.E.N.D.S phenomenon. 

Prior to this, I had only watched parts of episodes from behind couches, before my mom would tell me to get lost because the show wasn’t ‘appropriate’. 

That summer, I had gone to live in my aunt’s house in Delhi for sometime and discovered the boxset of all ten seasons of the show. 

By the time my mom had come to Delhi in a few weeks, I had finished the entire show -- I loved every minute of it. 

It was, in my opinion, the best show I had ever watched and that still stands to today. 

Never had I been so enamoured by a show that I would wake up and sit in my pjs and binge on it. 

Since then, I have watched numerous sitcoms but nothing even came close to the quality of both the humor and storytelling ability, which this show possessed. 

So, I just watched the show again and again. But I never knew what exactly it was about F.R.I.E.N.D.S.  that made it standout to me compared to other shows. 

I might have initially liked it because of the adult humor, because back then I felt that just the word ‘sex’ was comedy gold. 

Looking back, it was the way that the show managed to balance the different elements of a sitcom. The characters are probably the highlight of the show. 

I mean the names Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey are probably the most recognizable names from TV. 

These characters and their particular behaviors have now become the basis for all modern sitcoms- the nerdy, the dumb, the funny, the weird etc. 

When a reunion episode was announced, I was very excited……. 

Up until they said it wouldn’t be an actual episode but rather like a sit-down with the titular ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’. 

Then, they released a list of people appearing and I was even more puzzled. 

Justin Bieber? BTS? Lady Gaga? I wasn’t able to see how they would fit into the episode.

Anyway, I waited like many others for the day of the special to finally come out. Finally on May 27, after getting frustrated that you had to get a Zee5 subscription to watch it, I sat down to watch “The One Where They Get Back Together”.

One hour and 49 minutes later, I was in a state of mixed emotions. 

The episode was great, by which I mean the part where the main actors  – six of them -- were present was great. 

The rest of it was just unnecessary and just kind of boring. 

First, let me track what I thought were the negatives. 

The interview with James Corden was quite boring. The special guest interviews from people who weren’t in the show like David Beckham, Kit Harrington and so were also not needed and the less said about that fashion show the better. 

People wanted to watch the special to see the F.R.I.E.N.D.S, not a bunch of celebrities talking about them.

I feel the parts which made sense were the special appearance from people who appears in most of the episodes of original show, like Janice (Maggie Wheeler) or Richard (Tom Selleck). Gunther the barista (James Michael Tyler), had less screen time than Justin Bieber prancing about in the ‘Spudnik’ costume. 

Yet none of this mattered because the reunion also did a very good job on what it was meant to do –- the meeting of six original cast members. 

The moment we see them entering one by one onto to the iconic set till when the credits roll, they are amazing. If the special had been just the interactions and conversations between the six of them, I would have watched and loved it even more. 

The quiz, which was a throwback to the quiz they do in the episode “The One with the Embryos”, was a great addition as well as the roundtable read throughs of some of the most memorable moment from the show. The bloopers and the interviews with the creators, which were sprinkled in between, were also a delight to watch, as they showed the behind-the-scenes footage as well as the story behind many incidents. 

When I watched this special, not for one minute did I see the actors there, rather I only saw them as the characters they played. 

It’s like they never left their roles and that the finale never took place. 

Just the six of them sitting and reminiscing made for a perfect episode and made you feel like you were there and part of each story. 

Of course, the ending was bittersweet, as I realized this would be the last time that we saw them all together as part of the show.

The reunion did a great job to satiate the millions of fans of the show around the world. The fact that the special was so widely watched and loved, even though it came out nearly 17 years later after the show ended, shows the universal appeal and timelessness of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

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