Review: ‘Friends’ The One With The Reunion
Friends: The Reunion might not be perfect, but it leverages its nostalgia to win over its fans once again.
Review: ‘Friends’ The One With The Reunion
Alert: This article contains spoilers.
After a 17-year-long wait, several hopes of reunions that only ended up being crushed, and a brief reunion minus Mathew Perry, Friends fans are finally getting what they were perhaps looking forward to the most. But this almost maddening hype around the show and all this anticipation towards the reunion ended up being the show’s Kryptonite. If you’re a hardcore Friends fan, you will be all praises for the episode, and that’s primarily for whom the reunion was also made. But for the rest, you'll get through it and draw almost nothing from the episode.
The Cast Finally Meets
The cast met only once after the finale 17 years ago, and this reunion episode moderated by British host James Corden was only the second time they all met.
The reunion episode begins with the cast walking in one by one onto the original set of the show, looking around and just reminiscing about the memories that they made there. They follow this by a few table reads that immediately trigger a wave of nostalgia. All the six friends, sitting around on the same table, reading iconic scenes like Ross and Rachel’s first kiss, the group finding out about Monica and Chandler, are enough to bring any fan to the brink of tears (that is, if you haven't cried already).
The episode plays a lot on this nostalgia, as the cast discusses bloopers, their individual journeys and how they found themselves on the show - all providing for some very light-hearted and cheerful disclosures from everyone. The makers discuss the process of creating the show, and there are some rather interesting revelations there (how they came upon the initial idea and premise of the show, how David Schwimmer had left TV and how the creators convinced him to come onboard despite that).
But other than this, some facts and trivia discussed in the episode fail to amuse. Things such as Matt LeBlanc surviving on his final $11 before being cast and showing up to the audition with a huge scar on his nose are rather well-known, not just to fans, but even passive watchers. The main point being, the episode failed to give any interesting or never-heard-before trivia or information, playing around with old stories that have been repeated in several headlines and articles over time.
This can be attributed to the show’s massive fame and the plethora of information available on it, which subsequently became the very thing that made the reunion a dry reiteration of well-known facts.
Other than this, one of the highlights of the whole episode would be the recreation of the Friends quiz, where David Schwimmer brings out a quiz board just like in the episode The One With the Embryos (Season 4) and the cast indulges in a fun contest about the show.
Too Much Clutter
The episode has the cast doing table reads, watching bloopers, sitting down to chat with James Corden who moderates the whole talk, testimonials of fans, reactions from famous people including David Beckham and Malala Yousafzai, a Friends-special fashion show, and a lot more. All of this has been packed tightly in the 1-hour 40-minute long episode and at some point, this myriad of things happening all at once begs for a simpler format with much less clutter.
For instance, the whole part with the celebrities talking about their favourite episodes and why they love the show seems highly unnecessary. As a viewer, I have never felt farther from the show. Friends is a show about six young friends, who are like any other group of youngsters and its strongest suit is its relatability and simplicity, which all seem to disappear once the star-studded testimonials factor in.
In fact, the characters of the show itself have become ragingly famous now, making the reunion self-sufficient. Adding more star value to it seems like an unnecessary crutch that the creators could have opted out for.
A Show That Touches Lives
In a special sequence, the episode uses its worldwide reach and talks to viewers from all over the world, right from Ghana and Paris to India, a lot of young people talk about the show’s impact on their lives. This segment will probably tug at your heart the most. Pabitra, a man from India, narrates how the show became his fighting force when he was caring for his ailing father.
Liz, another woman from Mexico, reveals how even though she didn’t have any friends in real life, she felt the show’s friends were hers too. “I came home to Friends,” she says, talking about how the show helped her through her depression.
This part reminds viewers of how the show is not just a sitcom, but a cultural phenomenon, a home to a lot of people, something that gets them through their worst days and reinforces positivity in their lives. And if a show can do that, there’s nothing else an audience member can ask for.
Even if you’re not a big fan of the show, you will find yourself smiling and tearing up through parts where the cast is bonding. You will see a different side of them, distinct from their characters on-screen, and will still end up adoring them. Their friendship might not be like the one you saw on the show, but it’s still one that you will rejoice. This is a show that has transcended generations and is still loved widely, and an episode such as this seems like the perfect closure, a wholesome end to years of anticipation.
Friends: The Reunion can be streamed exclusively on ZEE5 in India.
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