HBO Max's Friends Reunion was one of its biggest announcements when the streaming service first announced. And now we're finally going to get it, on May 27 — and I am already sure I'm going to hate-watch it.
I loved Friends when it was the pillar of NBC's Must See TV lineup. I've been that guy who claimed (incorrectly) that it was better than Seinfeld. I actually cared about Ross and Rachel's on-and-off-and-on relationship. I was giddy when Chandler and Monica finally made it happen. I even did that thing where Ross and Monica would knock two fists against each other, their own version of giving the middle finger. I think Joey's dissection of Rachel's trifle is perfect.
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But then I actually learned about it. And I practically did the knocked-fists salute at my monitor.
The Friends reunion has too many friends of friends
Per The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), The Friends Reunion will feature the following actors (in alphabetical order):
- David Beckham
- Justin Bieber
- James Corden
- Cindy Crawford
- Cara Delevingne
- Lady Gaga
- Elliott Gould
- Kit Harington
- Larry Hankin
- Mindy Kaling
- Thomas Lennon
- Christina Pickles
- Tom Selleck
- James Michael Tyler
- Maggie Wheeler
- Reese Witherspoon
- Malala Yousafzai
And before I get to the obvious names that do not belong, let's look at who does belong here. Cindy Crawford, shockingly, does — she was on Chandler's list of the five celebrities on his "freebies" list.
Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles, of course, played Jack and Judy Geller, the parents of Monica and Ross. Larry Hankin was a neighbor of Monica and Rachel's, who lived downstairs and was upset about all the noise. Thomas Lennon (of Reno 911!) is an even deeper cut: he played Joey's "identical hand twin" in the season five finale.
Tom Selleck played Dr. Richard Burke, who dated Monica — and didn't want to have kids with her. James Michael Tyler was Gunther, Rachel's boss at the Central Perk coffee house. You may know Maggie Wheeler's laugh better than her name, as she played Janice, Chandler's on-and-off love interest. And, lastly, Reese Witherspoon was Rachel's sister, Jill Greene.
What's wrong with the Friends Reunion
Reunion specials are rarely fantastic entertainment, such as The West Wing reunion where the cast reenacted an episode, so we kind of need to lower our standards already. What we know about the Friends episode is simple: the main six stars will reprise their roles for part of this new "special" episode — but the rest of the project will consist of the actors being themselves. That just sounds … light on content, but let's move on to the big issue.
The list of Friends Reunion guests is littered with names that don't make sense — starting with people who are too young to be relevant for this reunion. Justin Bieber (who was born on March 1, 1994) was only ten when the show went off the air on May 6, 2004. How does he have any connection to the series? Anyone who binge-watched the show has as close a connection as he does. The eldest member of mega-popular K-Pop band BTS (Kim Seokjin, born Dec. 4, 1992) would have been 11 when the lights went out at Central Perk. Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (born July 12, 1997) may be a prestigious name, but she's even younger, and would have been 6 when the show ended.
I get that these are all big stars, and they could help the special draw younger eyes, but wasn't this long-awaited reunion big enough? More confusing are the folks that don't seem to have any real reason, other than being famous. James Corden, for example, is just one of the many celebrities who is best known for his ubiquity. I'm not against the man making money, but his mere presence is a sign that any random celebrity is welcome.
Lady Gaga and Mindy Kaling are great and fun, but — again — nope, no relation to the show, does not belong. We don't know why David Beckham is on this list, either, outside of that time he was photographed wearing a Friends shirt.
The Friends Reunion is missing real stars like Mike Hannigan
Does the name Mike Hannigan not ring a bell? If so, then you owe Paul Rudd an apology, as his work playing Hannigan, Phoebe Buffay's third husband, helped make the later Friends seasons watchable.
The big list of huge guest stars missing from the Reunion is its own separate story, but let's just remember that Julia Roberts, Jean Claude Van Damme, Isabella Rosellini, Christina Applegate, Billy Crystal, Helen Hunt and Winona Ryder could all have been invited. Heck, comedy icon Danny DeVito should be here, because he should be everywhere.
Of course, I know we're not going to get Brad Pitt to reprise the role of Will Colbert — there's too much history with him and Jennifer Aniston. Similarly, Aisha Tyler is probably not coming back due to her issues with show co-creator Marta Kauffman stemming from Friends' melanin deficiency. Oh, and the list goes on. Why can't we get George Clooney, who also guest-starred on the show? Giovanni Ribisi, Morgan Fairchild and Kathleen Turner are also among the names we wish were on this list.
Maybe these big names will be the big surprises that HBO Max doesn't want to spoil. Either way, Friends Reunion? We're on a break, effective now.
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