When the 'Friends' were there for us again: Thoughts on the 'Reunion'

I guess we were crying as much for our lost youth as we were for the actors, their journeys, and the joy they provided us.
Cast of Friends sitting on a couch
Cast of Friends sitting on a couch
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The much-awaited and talked-about Friends: The Reunion finally dropped on May 27, and like a few million others, Vidya (my wife) and I had to watch it as soon as possible. Coming to about 100 minutes, it was a good-enough length to occupy a primetime slot on our viewing schedule. The show was a blast of nostalgia that left us feeling happy and fulfilled, with a healthy dose of tears along the way. I guess we were crying as much for our lost youth as we were for the actors, their journeys, and the joy they provided us.

The Reunion kicks off with the actors arriving at the oh-so-familiar Friends sets, exploring and exclaiming at little things they remember. From there, it splits off in various directions — David Schwimmer hosts a 2021 version of the quiz that costs Rachel and Monica their apartment. For each of the questions, the answer is someone from the show, who then makes a special appearance.

The actors then do a talk-show style interview with James Corden, during which several other actors from the series make an appearance. Shots from these are interspersed with the actors table-reading some of the scenes from the most iconic episodes, and these have been expertly edited together with the actual scenes — showing us all how talented the actors still are, and why we all love them so much.

Of course, there cannot be Friends without Phoebe, and there is no Phoebe without Smelly Cat! Lisa Kudrow delivers a flawless rendition of the most iconic song, and is joined by Lady Gaga, who comes in with a high-powered version, backed by the crew who appear in the Smelly Cat music video from the show. The segment concludes with Lisa muttering that her version was better anyway — bringing Phoebe back in a flash!

A fashion show featuring iconic outfits such as Spudnik and the Holiday Armadillo modeled by celebrities including Cindy Crawford and Justin Beiber has the actors cheering, and is rounded off by Matt Le Blanc as Joey wearing all of Chandler’s clothes! Cut in with these are video clips from a bunch of fans around the world who tell us how Friends affected their lives like we all know — making the most unbearable moments of our lives bearable, bringing light to the darkest moments, and just by being Friends. Some of these fans may even be known to some of us — a footballer named Beckham, a group of singers called BTS, a Nobel prize winner called Malala, an actor who knew nothing in his best-known role.

The interview was quite the treat, with Corden teasing out interesting trivia about the show as well as details of what the actors went through during and after the show. He also manages to elicit a startling revelation that makes us look at the series in a whole new light — but I will let you find out for yourself what it is!

The show itself was tied together by a narration from Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane — the names we saw at the end of every episode. They take us through how the show was conceived and how each of the Friends was cast. From the revolutionary concept of making a show with no single lead, to how each of the actors then made the characters complete, their narrative gives us an inside look into the proceedings. We get to see a lot of behind-the-scenes footage as well as bloopers during the making of the show.

I watched Friends for the first time when I was in my mid-20s, and it had quite an influence on my life. We binge-watched much before the advent of streaming platforms, thanks to DVD box sets brought back by friends and family from their trips abroad. I have seen my younger colleagues consume the show in pretty much the same way, and be influenced by it similarly. When you are in a new city, new job, new circumstances, and all you have are your friends, the show resonates a lot with you. The long timeline of the show also shows the development of the characters, and is relatable when you see it mirrored in your own life. For many of us, the Friends saga was as much about us. This is why The Reunion works so well — it hits home with the nostalgia factor, which then triggers your own memories and emotions. Make sure you have some tissues handy when watching The Reunion.

Friends: The Reunion is available in India on Zee5.

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