Friends is an undisputed classic of comedy television. Where did their phenomenon come from? Here is a collection of the most important facts, curiosities and attempts to explain the reasons for the continued popularity of the series Friends.
Friends – a short history of the series
Friends is a production that debuted in 1994 on the NBC television station and was created for the next ten years. It tells the story of six twenty somethings living in downtown New York. The series quickly won the hearts of viewers not only in the US, but also around the world. Over the decade, she has gained audience recognition and tons of awards, including six Emmys and a Golden Globe. The last episode on the day of its premiere gathered over 51 million Americans in front of the screens.
The series was shot at the Warner Bros. studio in California, with the only exception being the episodes made during the trip to London. Each episode lasts approximately twenty-three minutes. The creators’ assumption was not to distinguish any of the heroes and this parity was maintained until the end. Interestingly, the actors themselves also cared for unity outside the set, for example in terms of salary – they always negotiated rates together and earned the same amount for all the years.
Friends – Cast of the Series
Friends are one of the most famous TV characters today, the origins were completely different. Casting and the search for perfectly matching actors took a really long time, and could even end in a fiasco. David Schwimmer paved the way for the other five – according to writers Marta Kauffman and David Crane, the role of Ross Geller was written especially for him.
The most recognizable actress of the six was Courteney Cox (thanks to a different role). She initially auditioned for the role of Rachel Green, but found that the character of Monica Geller suited her much better. It was the character of Rachel that gave the creators a headache – she was finally played by Jennifer Aniston, but she joined the team last. The series also featured Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani) and Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing).
This sitcom is also a galaxy of stars, playing accompanying or episodic roles. In this way, in ten seasons of production, the cast expanded to include names such as: Elliott Gould, Paul Rudd, Tom Selleck, Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Gary Oldman, Ben Stiller, Danny DeVito , Christina Applegate, Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder and many more.
Where did the Friends phenomenon come from?
There is no doubt that the series has gained cult status – after all, twenty-seven years after its premiere, it continues to break records in viewership. Many fans consider it the best comedy item in the history of television. What made the series so successful? The 1990s in American film studios was a period of the creation of a large number of pilot episodes of new sitcoms, which were ultimately not realized further.
The Friends success was felt after the first episode. Although the cast was not composed of movie stars, the actors were selected perfectly and this delighted the viewers. All six of them got on well with each other and felt great in their company, which is really visible on the screen and which is so much appreciated by the viewers.
The heroes of the series were simply genuinely liked. For ten full seasons, they provided a lot of reasons to laugh and be moved. The writers, in turn, kept the episodes high in all series, providing a sparkling humor and addressing issues well known to the young adult. Even years later, despite archaic telephones and large computers, the comedy is still relevant.
Interesting facts from the Friends
There are few people who have not heard of Friends. The episodes were released for ten consecutive years, and they themselves enjoyed unflagging popularity. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the production, Miller Kelsey published a book – Friends. The one about the best series in the world. It reveals a lot of previously unknown facts related to the title loved by millions. Here are some interesting facts that came to light thanks to the publication and numerous interviews with the creators of the sitcom:
- Giving the title was not an easy task for the creators. Before Friends, the original names were Insomnia Cafe, Friends Like Us, Six of One, and Once Upon a Time in the West Village.
- The actors were also close to each other in reality, e.g. they often ate meals together outside the set. It was thanks to the genuine friendship that the series was so well received.
- Lisa Kudrow also played in another popular production – a waitress named Ursula. As both runs were scheduled one after the other, the writers decided to introduce Ursula to Friends. That’s how Phoebe got a twin sister.
- The laughter heard while watching the sitcom is not an added effect – the episodes were filmed with the participation of the audience. Thanks to this, the writers could react on an ongoing basis and modify jokes that turned out to be not very funny.
- Courteney Cox was pregnant during the filming of Season 10, which the creators tried to hide by choosing her casual outfits.
- Ross, the leading character of Friends, is known for his signature “smack puppy” image. According to the writers, Schwimmer was a perfect fit here. Staying with David – he showed off his extra skills and directed ten episodes (including The One with the Red Sweater).
- Lisa Kudrow was actually unable to play the guitar. Like her heroine, she knew only a few tricks.
- The writers did not plan one of the main threads of the series – the relationship between Ross and Rachel. As natural chemistry developed between the actors, the creators decided to develop the theme. Also, Monica and Chandler’s relationship was initially intended to be a short adventure, but fans embraced this twist with such enthusiasm that it was decided to merge the two characters seriously.
Friends – where can you watch the series?
In 2018, one of the most popular streaming platforms – Netflix – bought the rights to broadcast. This undoubtedly contributed to the revival of the phenomenon; thanks to this premiere, viewers went crazy about Friends again. With Netflix, twenty-five years after the first episode was broadcast, Friends again carried the crowds.
After 2 years, the series disappeared from the library of the publisher, but fans can still watch it on the website of another streaming giant – HBO GO. Subscribers have access to all 236 episodes. In addition, the production has been broadcast on Comedy Central for many years. The station is famous for having seasons all the time and several episodes a day. Interestingly, the viewers are not bored with Friends.
Friends – actors then and now
On May 27, 2021, HBO Max released a special episode of Friends: Reunion. Seventeen years after the final episode was broadcast, the six actors re-entered the recording studio. Among the perfectly reproduced scenery, they shared their memories, joked, answered questions, and also played a remake of the famous scene with a game of changing apartments.
Although each of the main cast members gained considerable fame as a result of participating in the cult series, Jennifer Aniston managed to make the biggest breakthrough. She won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her role as Rachel Green, and her later roles won her over twenty other awards. She quickly started getting offers from Hollywood and as a result, viewers could see her on the big screen in blockbuster comedies such as Bruce Almighty, Marley & Me or Women Want More.
The other five did not have similar success in the movie world, although the actors could still be seen on the screen. Matt LeBlanc starred in the failed spin-off of Friends – Joey. He also ran Top Gear, a well-known automotive program. Matthew Perry did not do the best with fame, as he struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for a long time. Also worth mentioning is Cole Sprouse, who appeared in Friends as Ben, the son of Ross. Today his film career has gained momentum and thanks to his engagement with Riverdale he is now one of the most sought-after actors of the younger generation.
Best Alternatives for Friends
Friends is the number one sitcom of all time, which aired in over 100 countries. Although many fans of the title can watch episodes over and over again, they are also looking for other, albeit similar, productions. There are several items recommended for Friends. can find three below:
- That ’70s Show – in the series you can follow the fate of a group of friends. They spend their free time together in a certain basement. The world without smartphones, computers and the Internet is a charm here.
- How I Met Your Mother – Called by many the successor of Friends. This comedy, full of funny situations, surprises with its form, because it tells the story of the main character’s relationship in retrospect.
- The Big Bang Theory – here also uses the theme of a strong bond that connects a group of scientists. We are dealing with original characters and a large dose of humor.
While there are plenty of great series to choose from, there will be many who call it Friends one-of-a-kind. You don’t have to be a fan of the production to admit that it is one of the most appreciated television productions, and its phenomenon has taken over the whole world. Will Friends stand the test of time and be a hit in the next ten or twenty years? We’ll see.