‘Friends’ Facts That Every Super-Fan Should Know
Believe it or not, the debut of Friends was nearly 30 years ago, as it premiered on Sept. 22, 1994. It’s hard to believe that it’s actually been that long since Chandler, Monica, Ross, Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel graced our TV screens as a group of 20-somethings who were trying to figure out their lives in New York.
The show’s creators remarked that the pilot episode in 1994 didn’t draw the attention they were expecting, so they never thought that the show would still be drawing so much attention all these years later. In fact, the show’s 25th anniversary was one of the biggest events in the history of Friends, which just goes to show that a great sitcom can stand the test of time, and still entertain a crowd.
As a series that lasted ten seasons, Friends is a classic sitcom that many people still watch today, thanks to various streaming services. If you consider yourself a true fan of the show, these are the Friends facts that you’ll definitely want to know…
The First Episode
Friends premiered on Sept. 22, 1994, with over 21 million viewers tuning in for that first episode. That’s pretty shocking, considering that the writers and creators weren’t sure how the show would do when played to a real audience. Amazingly, that number grew to 31 million by the end of the first season, signaling that the show was a hit. This made Friends as popular as both ER and Seinfeld.
In the first episode of Friends, you’ll notice that Central Perk was not yet named. It wasn’t until the second episode that the team was able to emblazon the name onto the window and give the coffee shop the name that is known and loved. The shop remained Central Perk throughout the remaining episodes; It’s a clever name, so we’re happy that the writers “perked” up when hearing the name.
Missing ‘Friends’ on Netflix?
Netflix reported that Friends were among its most popular binge-watched TV series. Part of the reason for the show’s success on the streaming service is because the ongoing storyline works well in a streaming era where viewers want to see serialized stories. The series can easily be binged or watched over time thanks to its design.
Netflix viewers can expect Friends to move to WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, HBO MAX, in 2020. You can also buy the series outright on DVD or Blu-ray, if you’d rather have the episodes on hand for good. WarnerMedia reportedly paid $85 million per year to move the show to its platform. Angry? You might be part of the mass exodus from Netflix as a response to the loss.
No Adult Intervention
NBC asked time and time again for an older person to appear on the show to appeal to an older audience. However, the creators disagreed and focused on having older characters pop in only from time to time. This kept the story focused on the six friends. The argument was that the 20-somethings needed to grow on their own without so much adult intervention that it would become a mentor-like situation.
Friends never shied from introducing diversity onto the show. Some popular actors who appeared include Aisha Tyler, Craig Robinson, and Sherri Shepherd. It was a major breakthrough for her career, Shepherd had said, when she appeared on the show in 1998.
In 1996, Jean-Claude Van Damme appeared on Friends despite the fact that it was unusual for movie stars to appear on the small screen in that era. The high ratings the show received helped it garner the attention of celebrity guests who later appeared. Later on, many celebrities wanted to come on the show, including a young Justin Timberlake. Unfortunately, there were no solid parts for him on the show at that time.
If you remember the “Ugly Naked Guy” who was Monica and Rachel’s neighbor, then you may not yet know who played that streaking character. If it has been driving you crazy, then don’t worry- we’ve known who it is since 2016. The actor who played the role was Jon Haugen, who later was involved in a deleted scene where he and Ross got together in a comedic, and nudist, sketch.
The Real Ursula
Ursula and Phoebe were an interesting pair, but did you know that the body double for those scenes was Lisa Kudrow’s real-life sister? The scenes were difficult to shoot, perhaps because of the fact that a double was being used, but also because it was her sister that she had to act against. Lisa Kurdow didn’t love having to use a body double, especially with the types of interactions they had on the show!
To have Lisa Kudrow play Ursula on the show, the creators had to get permission from the team at Mad About You, where she was already playing the character. Kudrow performed for the first time as Ursula in 1993, around a year before Kudrow played Phoebe in Friends. It was a surprise that they got the “OK” for her to use Ursula’s character, but it’s one that has played out well.
Reunion Or Reboot
The point of Friends was never to watch the friend group grow up and have families, which is one reason why there won’t be a return or reboot any time soon. The creators believed that the show would change significantly once the characters started to have families and didn’t want that to become the heart of the show. They ended the series on a high note and said that they created a show they’re happy with.
Despite the fact that fans are asking for a reunion or reboot of the series, the creators agree that Apartment 5 is going to remain vacant. Warner Bros. has also allegedly stuck by that decision, not seeking a reboot or additional episodes. The series did so well that this is one situation where most agree it’s best to leave well enough alone. If you want to see continuations, might we suggest looking into Joey?
Six Is Better Than Four
Many people don’t know that Friends wasn’t always the name of the show, but could you imagine it any differently? There were several options that were later thrown out including Six of One, Insomnia Cafe and Friends Like Us. Eventually, the team settled on Friends and began the story that became a hit, and classic, sitcom. It’s hard to believe that the other titles were ever considered, recognizing Friends so easily by its name today.
Originally, the series was designed to cast only four friends, which would have created a much different dynamic than what you see in the series today. Phoebe and Chandler were still in the picture, but they were created to have supporting roles. Luckily, the writers and creators saw the way the cast worked together and adjusted to bring the two on board as regulars. The six together are certainly better than four would have been.
The Iconic Theme Song
Even though the cast was shown in New York City, you won’t be able to find the iconic fountain there. No, you won’t be able to dance in it any time soon, either. The opening scene was actually shot in California at Warner Bros. Studios. So, if you want to get a snap in front of the fountain, you may have to head out west or tweak your orange sofa picture in Photoshop.
When you hear the iconic theme song playing while you stream to binge watch your favorite episodes, you probably head straight to your own sofa to watch as the group goes through another day of unusual events. Interestingly, most of the cast wasn’t a fan of the theme song or opening. Jennifer Aniston, for example, said that she always thought it was odd to dance in the fountain, but they did so because they were asked to.
Monica And Chandler
Remember the awkward scene where Monica pops out of Chandler’s bedsheets? It certainly was a shock to the audience, but it was one that people had been dying to see. That scene was supposed to be a single one-night stand, and the real relationship was supposed to happen between Monica and Joey.
Monica and Chandler were never intended to get together. In fact, the plan was to use their hook-up as a one-night-stand gag. Shockingly, the audience loved them getting together so much that the creators were able to use it to express how the characters had grown. Chandler had overcome a fear of commitment. Monica was able to find a lover. It turned out to be a good way to mature the characters and the show.
Hippie Or A Goth
Of all the unusual things that you wouldn’t expect, Phoebe was supposed to be a goth! Yes, that’s right, the colorful blonde that is in every episode might have turned out much differently with different casting and the original storyline.
Originally, she was pitched as a “goth kid,” which reportedly resulted in Janeane Garofalo turning down the role. Instead, Phoebe later emerged as her somewhat-hippie, peace-loving self, played by Lisa Kudrow.
What’s In A Name?
If you used to follow the soap opera All My Children, then the names of the cast members of Friends might have seemed familiar to you. This was no coincidence…
There’s a good reason for that. Each of the characters were inspired by characters on the show including Joey for Joey Martin, Rachel Green for Janet Green, Ross for Ross Chandler, Monica for Monique, and Phoebe for Phoebe Tyler Wallingford. Chandler, perhaps the most important, was named after the Chandler family.
Ross’s Big Brother Talk
If there’s ever a part that you’d think would have been difficult to audition for, it would be that of Ross. Ross’s character was integral to many scenes and story lines, so you’d think that nailing the part would be difficult. Interestingly, Schwimmer had previously auditioned for a pilot episode, so Kauffman explained that they didn’t make him come back to audition a second time. Instead, he was just made an offer to take the role, and history was made.
If you love the relationship between Monica and her older brother, Ross, then you might be surprised to know that Courtney Cox is actually two years older than David Schwimmer, even though she plays the younger sister of Schwimmer’s character in the show. It all goes to show that you can’t trust ages on the screen, because they can always be manipulated to fit a character or the intentions of the writers.
There’s Coffee In Those Cups
If you’re a fan of Gunther, you may be surprised to realize that he didn’t have a speaking line for thirty-three episodes. That’s right, he was quiet all that time. Even when he did get his first line, it was only to say “yeah,” and move along the story line. Fortunately, he later became a more important character, and he could do more than just work quietly in the background.
With the 25th anniversary of the famous sitcom, lovers of Friends can now collect a coffee-themed LEGO set. The set includes 1,070 pieces including the famous orange sofa, all six friends, Gunther, and a variety of clever accessories like Phoebe’s guitar and Chandler’s laptop. It’s only $59.99, making it an affordable collector’s item. Yes, it does have the coffee shop for a clever backdrop so that you can set up your favorite Friends scenes in true LEGO style.
When the creators and writers decided to shoot with live audiences, one thing they never did was allow an audience to be present during a cliffhanger episode. Why not? If you had the audience there, then it was more than likely that they’d see both episodes being filmed. If you don’t want to spoil a cliffhanger, then the best method to keep it quiet is to avoid having an audience, or any other prying eyes, present.
In an interesting side note from Matt LeBlanc, he points out that he once popped his shoulder out of place while working a scene in front of a live audience. The audience had been made up for people who had won a contest held by the Coca-Cola Company. As a result of his injury, the audience members were all flown home, but Coca-Cola later flew them back for a different week’s filming.
One Cast Member Was Less Recognized Than The Others
With all good sitcoms, especially of this level, you’d expect that all of the cast members would have received an Emmy nod at one point or another. Unfortunately, Courtney Cox is the only member of the Friends cast not to receive a nod for her work, despite others, even guests, receiving their own.
Even though that’s the case, there’s no question that Monica is a character that people love, quirks and all.
Why The Apartment Numbers Changed
Die-hard fans of Friends may have noticed that the apartment number of Monica’s home changed over the course of the series. In season one, the apartment was number five.
As time went on, the creators realized that the apartment would never be on a higher floor with the number five, so the number was changed to 20. At the same time, the apartment number for Joey and Chandler’s apartment also changed from four to 19.
Pat The Dog
Clever fans may have started collecting reproductions of “Pat the Dog,” but did you know that it was actually a gift that was given to Jennifer Aniston by a friend?
Aniston received Pat as a gift on the first day of shooting on Friends, wishing her good luck on the new series. It looks like Pat the Dog was a great good-luck gift and even made an appearance in the series.
Chandler KNEW IT!
There were plenty of sexual innuendos throughout the seasons. Why? What you could or couldn’t say on television kept changing! As the network’s standards and practices changed, the creators would have to adjust, by avoiding saying certain words.
This explains the variations in the way the characters interacted with one another throughout the various seasons of the show.
How Did Friends Address 9/11
With tragedies, many film crews stop working. That includes the crew and cast for Friends, who took a hiatus after the tragic events of 9/11.
Lisa Kudrow reported that the first episode they filmed after the terrorist attack was “The One With the Halloween Party,” which she said is her favorite episode of all the Friends seasons. Why? It was all about making people laugh during one of the most difficult times in recent American history.
The show ended on May 6, 2004, with an astounding 52.5 million Americans tuned in for the finale. It’s a shockingly large number, and makes the episode one of the most-watched episodes in television history.
That’s another record for the books! Even with that great turn out, the cast members went their ways and continued to make their own impact in the acting industry.
The Girls Across The Hall
Jennifer Aniston rose to fame thanks to her role as Rachel, on Friends. She went on to become an actress in a number of famous films, including “Dumplin” in 2018 and “Marley & Me” in 2008. She’s starred in dramas, comedies, and romantic comedies, showing just a few more reasons why she was such a good fit for her career-making role of Rachel Green. What a success story!
Known for being a philanthropist, Aniston went on to act in additional roles but also advocates for St. Jude’s Research Hospital. She has been a staunch advocate for GLAAD and the LGBTQ community. She’ll also be performing a role in an upcoming series, “The Morning Show”. Rachel has certainly changed, and she is certainly well-known for her efforts in helping people and animals.
The Real world
Courtney Cox went on to become a notoriously well-known actress following Friends. She’s known for roles in “Scream” and “Cougar Town.” Now 54, she has a 15-year-old daughter and has previously named her good friend, Aniston, as her child’s godmother.
Yes, the feel-good relationship between Rachel and Monica is still going strong, even after all this time. It’s the perfect way to close that chapter of Friends, knowing that the two are still… friends.
David Schwimmer is best known for his role as Ross in the Friends series, but that doesn’t mean that he left Hollywood. In reality, he switched from being in front of the camera to taking a seat behind it, becoming a producer and director.
Now 52, Schwimmer is known for producing the hilarious “Run Fatboy Run,” A British film. Today, he has an 8-year-old daughter and is a member of the Rape Treatment Center’s board of directors’ executive leadership committee.
I See What You Did There…
Lisa Kudrow, 56, has been in many movies since she left Friends. Some include Easy A, P.S.; I Love You, Booksmart, Neighbors, and others. She has voiced characters on the now-popular cartoon series, BoJack Horseman, and played a voice role in The Boss Baby.
She’s not slowing down, and if anything, she’s doing more work in the industry than people may be aware of. She was involved in a Showtime series “Web Therapy,” from 2008 to 2012.
How You Doin?
If you loved Joey Tribbiani, you’re not alone. Matt LeBlanc’s role led to a spin-off show, “Joey,” that lasted for two seasons. Previously, he’d received three consecutive nominations for Emmys, too.
He went on to produce “The Prince” through his production company, “Fort Hill Productions.” He has also won a Golden Globe for his part in “Episodes,” a Showtime series. He is currently involved in the sitcom “Man With a Plan.”
“Hi, I’m Chandler. I Make Jokes When I’m Uncomfortable.”
Matthew Perry was the comedic relief on Friends, and he was even nominated for an Emmy thanks to his acting on NBC. Now 50, Perry has played in several movies and TV series.
He played Zac Efron’s older self in “17 Again,” and has appearances in “The Good Wife” and “Mr. Sunshine.” He also produces work, and he is an executive producer for “The End of Steve” and “Go On.”