Television

Everything We Know About the Friends Reunion

The cast of Friends walks away from the camera on the Warner Bros. backlot.
The Friends! HBO Max

The cast of long-running sitcom Friends is reuniting for an unscripted TV special called Friends: The Reunion, which will hit HBO Max on Thursday, May 27. But just who are these “friends,” and what sort of reunion are they planning? To find out, we scoured through the show’s teaser trailer frame-by-frame, looking for clues about the upcoming special. Here’s everything we were able to deduce about Friends: The Reunion.

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This Is a Reunion of NBC’s Friends (1994–2004), Not ABC’s Friends (1979).

If you look closely at the trailer, you can identify actors David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, and Matt LeBlanc. That means that Friends: The Reunion is most likely going to be a reunion of the cast of the NBC sitcom Friends, and not a reunion of the cast of the short-lived hour-long comedy series Friends, which ran for five episodes in the spring of 1979 before vanishing from the face of the earth. That’s probably for the best: NBC’s Friends is one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, while ABC’s Friends was terrible. Here are some blurbs from Howard Rosenberg’s original review of the show for the Los Angeles Times:

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• “Miss it.”
• “…scheduled for a limited (let’s hope terminal) run…”
• “…a washout…”
• “…too immature even for its target audience…”
• “…pounds heavy-handed parental sermons into an asinine episode…”
• “…a bad case of the cutes…”
• “You could call it garbage, but garbage would sue.”

Ouch! Judging from the trailer, though, Friends: The Reunion has nothing to do with the 1979 television program Friends, so Howard Rosenberg can rest easy.

There Will Be a Part Where the Cast of Friends Walks Around the Warner Bros. Lot in Slow Motion.

Specifically, we know from the trailer that they will walk at least a quarter of a block down 3rd street towards Avenue B, next to stage nine. Will they continue straight down the street to the Embassy Courtyard / New York Park area or turn into Stage 24, where Friends was originally filmed? We won’t know until May 27.

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Yes, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai Will Make an Appearance.

If you are the kind of person whose main interest in watching Friends: The Reunion is catching a glimpse of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, great news! Yousafzai, who was born between Friends’ season three finale (“The One at the Beach”) and its season four premiere (“The One With the Jellyfish”), then went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of seventeen, will be appearing on Friends: The Reunion for some reason. Here’s the complete list of guest stars, which is packed with old Friends favorites ranging from K-Pop superstars BTS to Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones.

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It’s Going to Be Slower and More Wistful.

The original recording of the Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You (Theme From Friends)” clocks in around 192 beats per minute, while the version in the teaser is only 147 bpm, and heavy on the adult contemporary vibes besides. From this, we can deduce that the Friends reunion will be about 23% slower, and at least 75% more wistful. For example, Rachel’s line in the original 1994 pilot episode, “And that’s when I realized how much Barry looks like Mr. Potato Head,” would now be rendered, “And thaaaaat’s wheeen I reeeeealized how muuuuuch Baaaaaaaaarry looooooks liiike Miiiister Potaaaaaato Heaaaaaaad. Regrets fly kites in your eyes.”

Lisa Kudrow Doesn’t Think Much of the Marketing Copy.

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One of the Friends—Lisa Kudrow—doesn’t think much of the official statement HBO Max’s publicity department gave her to tell people about the show:

Joined by special guests, we all—the cast—returned to the original soundstage, Stage 24 on the Warner Bros. studio lot, for an unscripted reunion special in celebration of the show.

Here’s Kudrow roasting the marketing copy in conversation with Conan O’Brien.

As O’Brien notes, “Whoever wrote that knows showmanship!” We can only hope that the same can be said of the person who wrote HBO Max’s Friends: The Reunion, except that Friends: The Reunion is unscripted, so we’re probably talking about what, producers? Producers. Showmanship!

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