Friends will not be going the way of Will & Grace or Murphy Brown, say the creators of the classic ’90s sitcom. No reunions. No reboots.
“We will not be doing a reunion show, we will not be doing a reboot,” co-creator and executive producer Marta Kauffman said Friday night during a Friends 25th anniversary panel at Tribeca TV Festival in Lower Manhattan. “The show was about that time in life when friends are your family,” she explained, adding that life changes when your family becomes your family.
And a reboot? No. “It’s not going to beat what we did,” Kauffman said.
Co-creator/exec producer David Crane concurred. “We did the show we wanted to do. We got it right, and we put a bow on it.”
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Exec producer Kevin Bright couldn’t resist a well-timed joke. “Eh, I think we should do a reboot,” he said after Kauffman and Crane gave their regrets, with Kauffman responding, “Good luck with that.”
The three shared the Tribeca TV Fest stage following a screening of two 4K-restored episodes — “The One with the Embryos” and “The One Where Everyone Finds Out,” often considered two of the series’ greatest episodes (with the latter possibly the single best).
And Friends co-star David Schwimmer was in the audience, but ducked out before being spotted. He did not join his old bosses onstage.
Kauffman, Crane and Bright, interviewed at the Regal Cinema in Battery Park by EW critic Kristen Baldwin, took a deep dive into all things Friends, sharing tales of NBC execs objecting to showing a foil-packeted condom, okaying the word “penis” in early episodes only to backtrack later, then reconsider once again in later seasons.
And Monica and Chandler? The eventual couple (played by Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry) were intended to hook up just once, with the writers’ room expecting to squeeze many jokes and episodes out of their post-sex awkwardness, but audiences demanded otherwise, and the show’s second relationship was born.
“We never intended Monica and Chandler,” said Kauffman, explaining the duo were initially going to have one night together and revert back to friendship. “But the audience reaction was so strong, and their chemistry was so good that we ultimately had to listen to the show. We knew there’s a real relationship here.”
And, added Crane, the relationship became a “motor for stories” and comedy in the sitcom’s later seasons, perhaps even more than Rachel and Ross (Jennifer Aniston and Schwimmer).
As for the two episodes selected and “curated” by the panel tonight, Bright, who directed “The One with the Embryos,” says the selections showcased both the humor and emotion of the series at its best. “Embryos” involved most of the Friends characters playing a series-changing trivia contest ending in the famous apartment swap, while Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) becomes a surrogate mother for her brother and sister-in-law.
“It was just one of those nights where everything was working,” Bright said of the episode’s taping.
Bright did have a question for the Friends-friendly audience, though. Was he mistaken in thinking that Ross was once shown naked with the Ugly Naked Guy? Was the scene cut in reruns? He was, he said, sure he had seen the brief nude scene once but couldn’t quite prove it.
The audience knew the answer: Ross’ brief nudity was never aired – but made it as a DVD extra. And, no, Schwimmer was not the audience member who got the answer right.