Show creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman were good friends and roommates in New York City in their 20s. Their lives, loves and friends are the material they utilized to create the epic television show, FRIENDS, that captured the hearts of millions all over the world. But the story behind it is so much more. The 2-hour reunion show gives us a glimpse of exactly what it was like to create, cast, and film the iconic original series.
Friends is a hit television sitcom, created by Crane and Kauffman, aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004, and lasted ten seasons. During the height of its popularity, the show ran in over 100 countries, and was the #1 rated nighttime comedy show for 6 seasons. In the U.S alone, 52.5 million viewers watched the series finale on May 6, 2004, making it the most-watched finale since Seinfeld in 1998.
Kauffman and Crane began developing Friends under the original title Insomnia Cafe in late 1993. They presented the idea to producer Kevin Bright, and all together, they pitched a treatment of the show to NBC. After several script rewrites and changes, the series was finally named Friends.
Casting was perhaps the most difficult part. David Schwimmer as Ross was the first one cast, as the part was written with him specifically in mind. Lisa Kudrow as the quirky Phoebe was next. Courteney Cox originally auditioned for Rachel but convinced the producers very quickly that she was much more of a Monica and nabbed that part. The heartthrob part of Joey escaped many actors before they landed on the ever-charming Matt LeBlanc. Matthew Perry won the producers over with his comedic timing, perfect for the role of Chandler. And Jennifer Aniston secured the role of Rachel by bringing her vulnerability and likeability to the role. However, both Perry and Aniston were on other shows, and had to be released from those commitments first. Once that was done, and the cast was secure, the series itself took on a life of its own.
The chemistry between the group was absolutely magical. You could feel the love, admiration, and respect for each other emanating from each one of them through the entire 10 seasons. From the first show, where Rachel shows up at Central Perk (the coffee shop) escaping from her wedding, you just know this show is going to be special. And it was, for the next 10 years, until the finale in 2004.
We watched the “friends” experience love, loss, heartbreak, and everything in between, usually in the most hilarious manner. The show was captivating for those of the same age, or like me, who had just gone through very similar experiences with my own group of friends. Almost everyone could relate, and that was truly the magic of the show.
Fast forward to the reunion of the cast, 17 years later. Watching the group recall numerous moments from the show was heartwarming, and priceless for those of us who were fans. I laughed, I cried, I laughed and cried simultaneously, and it was entirely entertaining. I was instantly transported back to 1994, when I first fell in love with this group of people. They were truly “there for me” as I navigated my own trials and tribulations of early adulthood. I cherished this show, and I’ve continued to watch it repeatedly (so thankful for DVDs and syndication) since it ended in 2004. I can honestly say, this is my favorite show ever to air on television, and the magic still remains.
Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected].