Here's Why There's Already Backlash About the "Friends" Reunion Special
The fact that the special would be "unscripted" has some fans less than enthused.
On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the original stars of Friends were in discussions to do a reunion special for HBO Max. While nothing's been confirmed, sources told THR that all six of the core cast members are "in talks to reunite" for the unscripted special, which gives new meaning to the reunion photo that Jennifer Aniston recently posted when she joined Instagram.
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Naturally, a lot of fans of the beloved '90s sitcom were very excited by the news.
— Alex Taylor (@Tayloredword) November 13, 2019
Like, crying-tears-of-joy excited.
I just cried tears of excitement as I just learned that #HBOMax is in talk to make a reunion with the original cast and creators or #Friends! I'm so pumped I don't think you understand right now. pic.twitter.com/ZpyV1IyChy
— Aaron Watson ❅ (@awats15) November 12, 2019
But in all of the excitement, many people seem to be missing one important detail, which is that the special is reportedly going to be "unscripted." There's no word on how that would work exactly. Would it be the six actors reminiscing about their time on Friends? Or would they play their characters and improvise their lines? Because that sounds… not good. Five of them also already did the former during a tribute to director James Burrows in 2016 and it was… not good.
An "unscripted Friends reunion special" is just going to be an interview/clip thing with the cast reflecting on the show, right? This does not sound like an event.
— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) November 13, 2019
In an article titled "An unscripted Friends reunion would be a diabolical mess," Guardian culture critic Stuart Heritage did not mince his words when he explained why the entire idea seemed like a greedy disaster.
"The amount of money that Friends still generates is staggering, which means that the cast will be extraordinarily well compensated for their reunion," Heritage wrote. "And given that it's going to be an unscripted special, which essentially means they'll just clamber on to a stage and reminisce about Gunther for a while, it may very well qualify as the best paid afternoon of their entire lives."
Like others on social media, Heritage noted that the hit British TV show The Inbetweeners did a similar special on New Year's Day, which left fans feeling cheated. The entire cast looked "awkward and ill-prepared," he wrote, and "the host kept confusing the actors with the characters they played," given that an unscripted special is an uncomfortable limbo between TV and reality.
— Tom Beasley (@TomJBeasley) November 13, 2019
Specifically for Friends fans whose dreams of a reboot have repeatedly been shot down, this has all been quite a rollercoaster. In September, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman told Rolling Stone that a reunion "could only disappoint" fans because the show was about "a time in your life when your friends are your family" and "it's not that time anymore."
And, in October, Aniston told Howard Stern on his Sirius XM Radio show that a reboot would "ruin" the show because it wouldn't "be even close to as good what it was." More recently, however, she said on Ellen that while she was still against a reboot, the whole cast would "love for there to be something," and that they were working on what that something would be.
But is this unscripted special the best answer? After all, even scripted revivals haven't been well-received in the past. From Fuller House to Arrested Development to Gilmore Girls, fan favorites have returned to the small screen only to let audiences down.
And let's be honest with ourselves: Do we need to potentially see Ross and Rachel going on another "break"? Would the fact that Joey can't seem to act, hold down a relationship, or adult in general still be cute now that he's in his 50s? It may be realistic, sure, but—when it comes to our favorite shows—a reminder that no one told you life was going to be this way is not exactly what we're looking for in terms of TV escapism.