Friends: The Reunion is a 2021 reunion special of the American television sitcom Friends. The special is hosted by James Corden and executive produced by the show's co-creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, Kevin S. Bright, the show's main cast, and Ben Winston (who also directed the special). The special sees the main cast revisit the sets of the original show (such as the Friends' apartments, the Central Perk coffee shop, and the signature water fountain), meet with guests who appeared on the show as well as celebrity guests, do table reads and re-enactments of Friends episodes, and share behind-the-scenes footage.
In November 2019, Warner Bros. Television was developing a Friends reunion special for their new streaming service, HBO Max. The special would feature the whole cast and co-stars. In February 2020, an unscripted Friends was commissioned with all original cast and co-creators returning.
The special was executive produced by the show's co-creators, Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and the show's main cast, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. Ben Winston directed and executive produced through Fulwell 73. Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television (later Warner Horizon Unscripted Television) was also involved in the production of the special.
The special was filmed in Los Angeles, California, at Stage 24, also known as \"The Friends Stage\" at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, where Friends had been filmed since its second season. The filming of the reunion began in April 2021. Filming of the special was delayed twice, first in March 2020, and second in August 2020, both due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trivia game and talk show segments of the special, hosted by James Corden, were filmed in front of a live audience of \"mostly union extras, [who were] COVID screened and hired for the gig\". Representatives for Perry clarified that he had an emergency dental surgery prior to filming when viewers were concerned about his appearance.
The three actors who portrayed the barbershop quartet in \"The One With All the Jealousy\" appeared in the trivia game segment. Show guest stars Danny DeVito, Ben Stiller, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn were mentioned and shown via archive footage. Actor Paul Rudd briefly appeared in the series finale curtain call. Appearances by director James Burrows and comedian Bob Newhart were cut from the special and used as bonus clips in the HBO Max release.
The reunion special was originally set to be released with the launch of HBO Max on May 27, 2020, along with the 236 episodes of the original series that were available at launch; this was delayed a year later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2021, a teaser trailer was released announcing that the reunion special was scheduled to be released on May 27, 2021, on HBO Max. The HBO Max release includes five bonus clips that were cut from the special as extras.
The special was also released internationally simultaneously with the U.S. release on Crave in Canada, Sky One and NOW in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy, Foxtel Now and Binge in Australia, TVNZ 2 and TVNZ OnDemand in New Zealand, ZEE5 in India, OSN in the United Arab Emirates, HBO Go and HBO Asia in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong, HBO Nordic in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, HBO España in Spain and HBO Portugal in Portugal.
In China, the special was streamed on iQIYI, Youku and Tencent Video, although the scenes featuring Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and BTS have been removed. LGBTQ references and references to urine in the special were also removed. In Japan, the special was exclusively released on U-NEXT on May 31, 2021.
In Vietnam, the special was streamed on FPT Play and VieOn with Vietnamese subtitles being hardsubbed. In South Africa, the special was aired on MNET(DStv) on May 30, 2021, and was released for streaming on Showmax on May 31, 2021.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the special has an approval rating of 67% based on 52 reviews, with an average score of 6.4/10. The website's critics consensus is, \"It may work best for die-hards, but when it cuts out the noise and focuses on the connections Friends: The Reunion is as warm and comforting as a night in the café.\" On Metacritic, the special has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100 indicating \"generally favorable reviews\" based on 27 critics.
According to a TV analytics provider TVision, Friends: The Reunion was watched by an estimated 29% of U.S. streaming households on May 27. It also revealed that a significant part of its audience were people between the ages of 35 and 54 (50%) and female (55.4%). According to the analytics company Antenna, the special also drove more subscription to HBO Max in its opening weekend in the U.S. than any of Warner Bros.' new movies in 2021. In the United Kingdom, Friends: The Reunion aired on Sky One and became the channel's most watched programme in its history, with 5.3 million viewers tuning in.
During the Sept. 16 episode of Literally! With Rob Lowe, Jennifer Aniston discussed filming the headline-making reunion and the toll it took on herself and her former co-stars. Per The Morning Show actress, coming together and reliving moments from the iconic NBC sitcom \"really took us all down way harder than we anticipated.\"
Aniston compared working on Friends to taking \"a happy pill every single day,\" so, returning for the reunion was more sentimental than she could've anticipated. \"It's nostalgic in a way that's kind of also a little melancholy,\" she explained. \"'Cause a lot has changed, and we have all gone down different roads. Some easy and some not so easy for each of us.\"
After calling the reunion \"brutal,\" Aniston quipped that she couldn't stop crying even though there were cameras everywhere. Thankfully, the 52-year-old actress wasn't alone in her emotions, as she recalled, \"There was a period where we were all kind of in a puddle. Maybe David didn't, I don't think we broke David.\"
Although the experience may've been tough for the cast, it certainly paid off, as Friends: The Reunion was nominated for Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) at the 2021 Emmys. Check out their other reunions by scrolling through the images below!
Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc and Jennifer Aniston reunited for a 2016 NBC special dedicated to Friends director James Burrows. Matthew Perry was unable to attend as he was in London to star in his play The End of Longing. He did, however, appear in a videotaped message to introduce his former cast mates.
The special is available to watch now and sees the six main cast members - Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler), David Schwimmer (Ross), Courteney Cox (Monica), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) and Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) - look back on the phenomenally successful '90s sitcom that made them stars.
However, we found the special mostly as irresistible as the show itself (read our Friends reunion review for more details), with the stars returning to Monica's famously spacious apartment as well as the iconic fountain from the opening credits.
The Friends reunion aired at 8pm on Thursday 27th May on Sky One. However, the special is also on streaming service NOW and is available to stream right now.
LOTS of celebrities also popped in to celebrate the reunion including David Beckham, Mindy Kaling, James Corden, BTS, Justin Bieber, Kit Harington, Cindy Crawford, Tom Selleck (who played Monica's pre-Chandler love interest Richard) and Reese Witherspoon (who played Rachel's sister, Jill Green).
Being a documentary special, we don't see the cast reprise their beloved roles, but instead chat about stories from behind the scenes. Topics include how creators Martha Kaufmann and David Crane had to \"beg\" David Schwimmer to play Ross, while Matt Le Blanc revealed the embarrassing reason why he nearly missed out on the part of Joey.
It isn't just be the stars that Friends fans will find familiar. Monica's iconic apartment is recreated on the same Warner Bros. Studios stage used during filming of the original series, while the famous Warner Bros. Ranch water fountain seen in the opening credits also features during the reunion.
The show's original production designer Greg Grande teased the return of Monica's famously spacious home on Instagram, saying: \"Sssh. somethings happening deja vu...coming alive once again #friends#monicasapt#friendsreunion.\"
The Friends reunion was originally supposed to be filmed last year and was going to be part of HBO Max's launch day content, but the pandemic delayed filming to early 2021. Regardless, this looks like an emotional and nostalgic look back at one of the best TV shows ever made, and it's made all the sweeter by the fact that it's clear this cast still really, really loves each other.
Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow appear (along with David Schwimmer) in the special Friends: The Reunion. Terence Patrick/HBO Max hide caption
What's disappointing about the reunion is that it refuses to sit with this dynamic, which is often both sweet and funny, in favor of spending time on the one thing absolutely nobody needs: an actual retrospective extravaganza looking back at the television show Friends. Instead of being willing to accept that notes of melancholy are perfectly normal parts of reminiscing, it skitters away every time it's clear that time is stretching out for these actors in some unnerving way, and it takes shelter in something completely familiar: the clip show. 59ce067264