by Eoghan Creedon
Friends is back!!!!!!!! Not really.
Series star Matthew Perry who played Chandler Bing on the show for 10 seasons single handily broke the internet on the 21st of February by posting an image of the cast to his Instagram account with a simple two-word caption “It’s Happening”.
Fans across the globe went into melt down, filled to the brim with glee and excitement at the thought of a Friends reunion episode after the show aired its final episode in 2004. However, this won’t be a typical episode of the biggest sitcom of all time. Sadly, we won’t see Monica and Chandler return to Manhattan with their now grown up twins, we won’t see what Ross and Rachel have gotten up to in the last 16 years. Maybe they took another break? We’ll never know.
What this reunion actually entails is the main cast reuniting with series creators Martha Kauffman and David Crane to essentially riminess about the show. Again. These reunion shows happen constantly. They might not always contain every cast member, but they’re pretty regular. Just watch any interview with any one of the 6 friends since the show has ended and I guarantee you that no matter what show or movie they are trying to plug, the interviewer will always, without fail, bring up Friends in some shape or form. The cast must be utterly sick of talking about the show by now you would think. However, they are allegedly each to earn $2.5 million for the reunion, so I think they’ll suck it up for one more night.
Friends ended in 2004. That’s 16 years ago, which is a very strange time to have a reunion don’t you think? Why now? Why 16 years later? Why not 10 years after it ended? Why not 25 years after the show began? All very valid questions, but there is one simple answer. HBO. HBO recently purchased the streaming rights of Friends for a reported $425 million, which is nearly $300 million more than what Netflix had been paying to have the exclusive rights to stream the show. HBO are using Friends as an enticement for viewers to their new streaming service HBO Max, which is set to launch around the same time as the Friends reunion.
The reunion episode is the perfect launch for Friends on HBO Max and the perfect launch for the streaming service itself. Friends is still one of the most profitable shows each year despite not airing a new episode since 2004. The show still earns a reported $1 billion a year, with each of the 6 lead actors making around $20 million a year each. This is of course on top of their $1 million an episode they were earning in the show’s later seasons. It is truly staggering just how successful this show was, is and will continue to be for the near future. We have never seen a show so successful and probably never will again.
While I personally don’t particularly care about the upcoming reunion episode because its been done to death already, I am quite glad that it is not a full-on scripted episode. For years it has been speculated ‘would a Friends reunion work?’, I personally don’t think it would. There’s a certain magic involved in a successful franchise, one which can’t be pinpointed. So, to test faith and risk the magic by reuniting the cast for a once off episode is pointless. Its not like they any of them need the money.
A great example of needless reunions is the recent Netflix movie El Camino, which is a follow-on movie to Breaking Bad. El Camino follows the struggles of Jesse Pinkman after the show’s conclusion. Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest shows of all time. In the years after the show’s conclusion, fans had been speculating what had happened to Jesse. They wondered would we ever get a definitive answer. We did, and it was fine. Not spectacular, not dogshit, just fine. Instead of fans losing their minds at the reality of more Breaking Bad, they simply watched El Camino and forgot about it. That’s not a knock on the quality of the movie as it is a great movie which sees a lot of the original cast return. It’s just that sometimes things are best left untouched. The magic lied in the show and the viewers’ minds. Just like with Friends.
Don’t take that magic away from us by giving us more. We say we want it, but really, we don’t. A full-on Friends reunion would ruin the magic of the original show. Its best to leave people wanting more than overstaying your welcome have them wishing you would just go away.