In the opening moments of a 2000 episode of “Friends,” Monica tries to convince the gang that she doesn’t have the flu when there is a knock on the apartment door. All six characters react as if Central Perk has just run out of coffee. Who dares to interfere in their exclusive club?
The moment probably hasn’t circled around the clock during “Friends: The Reunion,” which began airing Thursday on HBO Max, but it’s one of the most revealing moments in the sitcom’s 10 years.
The show is perhaps one of the most beloved in television history, inspiring everything from haircuts to bad pickup lines. But the vast majority of viewers have never been truly welcomed to be part of their world.
Visitor passes were only awarded to the Magnificent Undead.
Monica dated Tom Selleck. Joey shared his room with Elle Macpherson. Phoebe performed “Smelly Cat” with Chris Isaak. And the unexpected guest of this season six episode: Rachel’s spoiled sister, played by – who else, but – Reese Witherspoon.
Disdain for mere mortals was overlooked when the show first aired, in large part because young viewers were thrilled to finally be represented in a previously adult-dominated landscape of “Home Improvement,” https: //www.arkansasonline.com/news / 2021 / jun / 01 / friends-not-pc-but-has-good-moments / “Murphy Brown” and “Golden Girls”.
The cast was impeccable. David Schwimmer, who played the sad Ross sack, approached physical comedy as if he paid homage to the great stars of silent cinema; Lisa Kudrow, as Phoebe, upped the reputation of the space cadet; Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel had the comedic timing of a standout “SNL”; Matt LeBlanc as Joey managed to make a skirt hunter adorable; Matthew Perry’s Chandler was a well-oiled sarcasm machine; and Courteney Cox, who played Monica, was bursting with manic energy.
I still roar at some classic moments, like when Monica gets carried away explaining a woman’s erogenous zones or Rachel accidentally adds beef to her English trifle. The six cast members play against each other like Monty Python in his prime.
But too many songs don’t seem so funny anymore.
Barely an episode goes by without a dig in the overweight people, a joke that forced Cox to keep crawling around in a big suit for flashback scenes.
Gay people were only represented by Ross’s ex-wife and Joey’s obsession with watching hot women kiss. Strangers assuming Chandler was gay was a common punch line.
Aside from Ross’s dating pool, minorities were virtually non-existent. Even the extras in the New York sets were largely white.
It wasn’t the only ’90s sitcom to ignore diversity. “Cheers” and “Seinfeld” were equally guilty. But “Friends” was meant to represent a new “awakened” generation. As for this mission, the creators messed it up.
Go ahead and fall in love with the characters again. Don’t expect them to like you back. To them we were just a bunch of Ugly Naked Guys.
5 BEST EPISODES
The best way to appreciate the Emmy-winning series is to watch entire episodes. Here are the top five:
“The one where Ross finds out” (season two): Romantics still swoon over the memory of Ross and Rachel sharing their first passionate kiss in the rain. But the real moment to treasure is the scene in which Rachel gets drunk in a fancy restaurant and decides to leave a game-changing phone message. You can almost see Hollywood executives lining up in the background, waiting to anoint Jennifer Aniston as the next romantic comedy queen. Memorable line: “Are you above me? When were you under me?”
“The one with the prom video” (season two): At this time of the series, the writers did not hesitate to become sentimental. This is evident in Story B in which Chandler wears Joey’s gift, a goofy bracelet, despite being a “woman repellant.” But handkerchiefs really come in handy in the final moments, when a long-lost videotape reveals the sacrifice Ross was willing to make for Rachel before a high school dance. Memorable line: “It’s your lobster!”
“The one with the jellyfish” (season four): Ross and Rachel again – but this time the two don’t end up in each other’s arms. Their common fight goes well with Monica who remembers her mishap with a jellyfish as if she was Robert Shaw in “Jaws”. The MVP award goes to the genius who came up with the idea of making Teri Garr the mother of Phoebe. Memorable line: “And, hey. Just to let you know. It’s not that common. It doesn’t happen to all guys. And that’s a big deal!”
“The one with the embryos” (season four): The trivia contest in which Chandler and Joey win Monica’s apartment may be the funniest scene in the history of the series, but don’t forget the story of Phoebe in which she hopes to become a surrogate mother. The touching scene in which she gives her embryos a pep talk is a big reason Lisa Kudrow would win an Emmy later in the year. Memorable line: “What’s Chandler Bing’s job?”
“The one where everyone finds out” (season five): They might be best friends, but they certainly spend a lot of time giving each other a hard time. Their naughty side is on full display when the revelation of Chandler and Monica’s relationship triggers a series of pranks that show off Monica’s competitive spirit and Phoebe’s sultry side, leading to a dance 10 times more tantalizing than any action in a men’s club. Memorable line: “I’m so glad we’re having all sex.”
At least 10 Oscar winners would end up being invited to star in “Friends,” including Robin Williams and George Clooney. But these appearances are ultimately only fleeting cameos. Here are five big stars who put in a full week of work and left the biggest impressions.
Julia Roberts, “The One After the Super Bowl” (season two): This hour-long extravaganza stars a slew of high-profile celebrities including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Brooke Shields, Fred Willard, Chris Isaak and Marcel the Monkey. But Roberts stole the show as a movie makeup artist who takes revenge on Chandler for a prank he played in elementary school. No one has ever said the word “slip” more confidently.
Reese Witherspoon, “The One With Rachel’s Sister” (Season Six): Before Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston starred in “The Morning Show,” they played siblings in this two-part fight in which they fight for Ross. A year later, Witherspoon would star in “Legally Blonde,” leading to the kind of film career everyone had predicted for Aniston.
Winona Ryder, “The One With Rachel’s Big Kiss” (Season Seven): Seven years before Katy Perry scored with “I Kissed a Girl,” pop culture fans were in the throes of the onscreen kiss between Aniston and Ryder. The timing wasn’t terribly sexy, but the build-up caused a lot of laughs, especially whenever Phoebe teased Rachel about her lack of a wild side. One can only imagine what she was thinking after seeing “Horrible Bosses”.
Brad Pitt, “The One With the Rumor” (Season Eight): Pitt and Aniston got married in real life when he appeared as a former high school classmate who helped start an “I Hate Rachel Green Club “and is not about to revoke its membership. He’s meaner than he’s ever been in “Fight Club”.
Danny DeVito, “The One Where The Stripper Cries” (Season 10): The writers use their leftover big jokes for one of the show’s final episodes. But DeVito gets the last laugh, bringing great pathos to her character, a stripper who decides to use Phoebe’s bachelorette party as her last hurray. You’ll never listen to “Tainted Love” the same way again.