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Friends: They’re Still Here For Us
We said good-bye to Monica, Chandler, Ross, Joey, Phoebe and Rachel when the cast took their final bow back in 2004. 15 years ago! But for fans, these iconic characters will live on forever.
This beloved sitcom about a group of 20 somethings struggling through life, work and love struck a chord with audiences that still resonates to this day. It seems we just don’t want to let our Friends go.
Netflix reportedly paid $100 million dollars to keep streaming the show through 2019. In 2020, it will move to Warner Media’s streaming service, so get your binge-watching in now.
But wherever they go, this group of besties will always be in our hearts. For those of you can’t get enough of the gang from Central Perk, here are some fun facts about our favorite 90’s sitcom.
1. Critics Weren’t Raving at First
Although it later skyrocketed to popularity, the show opened to mixed reviews. Some critics accused the sitcom of promoting promiscuity, and People gave it a dismal D+ rating.
What?! Didn’t they like our Friends? Way to spot a total cultural phenomenon, people!
2. David Schwimmer Almost Passed Up the Role of Ross
Although the part was written with Schwimmer in mind, he almost passed on the role so he could return to doing theatre. To be or not to be Ross? That was really a question.
Obviously, he decided to “be” Ross and was the first one of our friends to be cast. And they never even made him read for the part!
3. The Producers Were Afraid Monica Would Come Off as "Slutty"
When Monica forgot the name of a guy she slept with in the pilot episode, producers feared the audience wouldn’t like her. So they surveyed the audience to decide whether to change the script. Verdict: sexual amnesia got a thumbs up!
4. Joey. If He Only Had A Brain.
Joey’s not-so-rapid-fire brain cells were not a part of the original script. It was a choice that Matt LeBlanc made in the audition, and the producers liked it. From then on, the character of Joey got a lot more... slowey.
5. Chandler and Mathew Perry. Together From Birth.
When Perry told producers he was defensive and awkward around women, producers wrote it into the script. Way to keep it real, producers.
Chandler’s sarcastic wit was also authentic to Perry. In fact, he was the only one of the Friends who was allowed to sit in with the scriptwriters of the show. They often use his jokes and suggestions to punch up the show.
Could he BE more Chandler?
6. The Role Of Phoebe Was Originally Offered to Ellen Degeneres
It’s hard not to like Ellen. But it’s even harder to imagine anyone else but Lisa Kudrow in the role of our quirkiest Friend, Phoebe. I mean, who else could play a guitar that poorly and still make us like her?
7. The Friends Cast That Never Happened
There’s no denying the cast of friends had a unique chemistry. But producers considered a lot of actors for the roles. They offered Rachel to Tea Leoni. But, considered Jon Cryer and Jon Favreau for Chandler. They auditioned Vince Vaughn for Joey and wrote the part of Monica with Janeane Garofalo in mind.
Would the show have had the same success with a whole different lineup of friends? Or would it have arrived DOA? Thank goodness we’ll never have to know.
8. The Star At The Center Of It All: The Big Orange Couch
This iconic piece of furniture set the stage for jokes, bad folk songs, heartbreak and real love between friends. And to think it was found forgotten in the basement of Warner Brothers Studios.
Way to reuse, repurpose and recycle, Hollywood!
9. Ever Wonder How The Gang Always Managed To Score the Couch?
In a city with a population of over 8.5 million, how is it that our Friends always managed to score the best seat in the house? Look closely, and you’ll see it has a “reserved” sign on the table in front of it.
I’ve never seen a reserved sign in a coffee shop in my entire life. But ok, let’s just go with it.
10. Phoebe Playing The Bongos? That’s just bonkers.
Apparently, Lisa Kudrow hated playing the guitar and wanted her character to play the bongos instead. Imagine Smelly Cat with a percussion section. Hmmmm.
Producers stayed firm, however, and insisted on the guitar. The result? The most unconvincing yet entertaining singer-songwriter to hit prime time.
11. Gunther Was A Real Barista.
James Michael Tyler got the role of Gunther because he was the only extra that could operate an espresso machine. In fact, Tyler worked in a real coffee shop in Hollywood until the end of season 4!
Guess the Friends didn’t tip very well.
12. And While Were On Gunther…
Gunther’s platinum hair color was kind of an accident. A hairstylist friend of his was practicing on him before he went to audition for the show. And guess what? The producers dug his look.
Which meant he had to KEEP bleaching his hair for 10 years. I hope he conditioned.
13. Joey The Silver Fox
And while were on hair... Matt LeBlanc started to go grey in his 20s and had to have his hair dyed the entire length of the show. It was all just a Mask-Hair-Aid.
14. There Was Almost A Seventh Friend
The network was concerned about how audiences would react to such a young cast. (In a youth-obsessed America?)
So the creators considered adding a character called “Pat the Cop.” A sage, older person to dole out advice to the gang.
A cop policing the friends? Way to ruin all the fun! Thankfully, Pat got the ax.
15. Monica Imitating Life
Just like her character Monica, Courteney Cox is a neat freak. Apparently, she used to clean the other cast members’ dressing rooms because she didn’t like to go in them when they were messy.
She must have the world’s neatest underwear drawer.
16. All For One. And All For A Pay Raise.
The cast of friends was the first to negotiate their salaries as a group. By the end of the final season, they were making a million dollars per episode. Guess the friends that get rich together stay together.
17. Big Ben.
Cole Sprouse, who played little Ben Geller, is now (gasp!) 26 years old! That’s a year older than Jennifer Aniston when she starred in the first season of the show. The clock just keeps ticking, friends.
18. Little Ben’s Big Crush
Apparently, Jennifer Anniston was one of Cole Sprouse’s first crushes. The little guy could barely get his lines out around her. Adorbs!
Actually, there are probably a lot of men that feel the same way about her to this day. For some friends, time passes more slowly.
19. The Big White Dog In The Room
The statue of the big, white dog from Joey’s bachelor pad actually belonged to Jennifer Aniston. It was a gift from a friend of hers. Hmmm. Friend or frenemy?
20. Courteney Cox Was Supposed To Play Rachel
Producers initially offered Courteney Cox the role of Rachel, but she convinced them to let her play Monica instead. She thought the role was stronger.
Hmmm. David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox kissing. That seems kind of incestuous now. Yuck!
21. Ross and Rachel. Almost Thwarted By Destiny.
It’s hard to believe now, but Monica and Joey were originally intended to be the central couple of the show.
But the chemistry between Schwimmer and Aniston was not to be denied. So the producers decided to go another way. Guess that’s what happens when real fake love ignites.
22. Could You Be More Wrong?
The first time Mathew Perry got on the cover of People Magazine, he sent it to one of his old teachers. Dr. Web once said to him in high school that he would never amount to anything if he didn’t stop joking all the time.
Guess the joke was on Dr. Web in the end.
23. David Schwimmer Directed 10 Episode of Friends
The One on the Last Night, The One With Rachel’s assistant, The One With All the Candy. The One….Well, you get the picture. Cut!
24. Janice, Janice, Hey Janice
For Chandler, Janice was a loud, obnoxious habit that was hard to quit. And her surprise appearances were always kept a secret from the live audience. Actress Maggie Wheeler was hidden in her dressing room and then behind a black screen so the audience wouldn’t catch on. Who knew she could be so quiet?
25. So What’s With The Empty Yellow Frame On The Door?
It’s probably the most famous frame in Prime Time history. But did you know that initially there was a mirror in it? At least until a crew member broke it.
The producers decided to keep the frame anyway. At least you could see out the peephole that way.
26. The Refrigerators Were Real
The fridge’s in both apartments actually worked and were filled with snacks. But apparently, the one in the girls’ apartment was always better stocked than the boys’. Just like in real life. Real fake life. You know what I mean!
27. Mathew Perry Dated Julia Roberts from 1995-96.
Guess he started feeling less awkward around women. Or maybe he got by with a little help from his Friends.
28. Lisa Kudrow Thought Chandler Was Gay
When Kudrow first read the script, she thought Mathew Perry’s character was supposed to be gay. Thus, all the jokes about Chandler being gay.
Could she BE more... nope, not going there again.
29. Phoebe’s Little Brother Was “Condom Boy”
Before he was cast as Frank Jr., Giovanni Ribisi had a cameo in season two. He threw a condom into Phoebe’s guitar case.
Guess the performance was so stellar they had to bring him back. Now that’s acting!
30. The Term “In The Friend Zone” Came From Friends
The expression has been around for so long now that we take it for granted. But it actually first became a thing when Joey tells Ross that he was “the mayor of the friend zone” in the very first season of the show.
And the rest is pop culture history.
31. Justin Timberlake Wanted A Cameo On the Show
But it was not to be. The producers could never find a part that was right for him. No entering the friend zone for him.
32. From Starvation To Stardom
Matt LeBlanc had only $11 to his name when he was cast as Joey. The first thing he bought himself was a good meal. Hmmm. Is that why Joey was so obsessed with food?
33. What Happens In Vegas Sometimes Happens Twice
Ross and Rachel’s drunken wedding took place in Caesars Palace. The same place where producers took the cast just before the show aired for the first time. They wanted the Friends gang to enjoy their last taste of anonymity.
Were they psychic? Or just really full of themselves?
34. The Monica/Chandler Hookup
When Monica and Chandler hooked up in London, the live audience went wild. They actually screamed for 27 seconds. And that’s when producers decided to keep them as a couple.
Guess live audiences make the best matchmakers.
35. The Cast Had A Group Hug Before Each Show
Ten seasons without fail, the cast of friends huddled up for good luck just before shooting the show. That’s ten years and 236 hugs. Maybe that’s why they’re still friends to this day.
We All Need Our Friends
Friends was unique in its era. Never had a show focused entirely on the lives of people in their twenties. A time when you’re learning so much about life and about yourself. And a time when you really count on your friends to get you through.
Obviously, it was a story many people related to. In fact, we still can’t seem to get enough of it today. Was it the writing, the production, or the unique chemistry of the cast that made it so iconic?
Whatever the case may be, we’ll always love our Friends.