Friends first premiered in 1994 and over its ten seasons, it became one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. Starring Jennifer Aniston as Rachel, Courteney Cox as Monica, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe, Matt LeBlanc as Joey, Matthew Perry as Chandler and David Schwimmer as Ross, Friends fans have only multiplied over the years, which explains why the HBO reunion is being keenly awaited by everyone.
So if you call yourself a Friends fan, here are 10 things about the show that you must know:
1. The original title for the show wasn’t Friends
Though it is considered an iconic title today, the makers did not intend to name their TV show, Friends. Karey Burke, former prime-time executive at NBC, told Vanity Fair in 2012 that the titles in the running were Six of One and Gen X. Karey said, “Six of One was the name of the show during the pilot. Then Kauffman and Crane came back with Friends, which we thought was such a snore. Some people thought the show was too Gen X, way too narrow.”
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2. Monica aka Courteney Cox was supposed to play Rachel
Today, Courteney Cox is associated with her screen name Monica and even Jennifer Aniston is fondly remembered as Rachel, but this is not what the makers had in mind at the time. Courteney Cox was initially brought in to audition for Rachel, but she thought she would be more appropriate for Monica. Co-creator Marta Kauffman told Vanity fair in 2012, “We originally offered Rachel to Courteney Cox but she said she wanted to do Monica, not Rachel.”
3. Courteney Cox is just like Monica
While the show was enjoying success, a 1995 article by the LA Times had Courteney Cox and Marta Kauffman compare the personalities of Courteney and Monica and how they were just so similar. Kauffman had then said, “She’s adorable and intelligent and really together. She is Monica. She has the neatest dressing room. She even cleans up the other actors’ dressing rooms because she won’t go in there if they are too messy.” Cox added, “I was doing, I think it was ‘The Jon Stewart Show,’ and I was picking things off of him and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m just like Monica. This is too scary.’”
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4. David Schwimmer did not audition for Ross
Marta Kauffman told Vanity Fair in 2012 that Schwimmer had in fact auditioned for another role so when it was time to cast Ross, they just went to him. She said, “Schwimmer had auditioned the year before for a pilot we were making, and he just stuck in our heads. That was an offer. No audition.”
5. ‘I’ll Be There For You’ made the pilot work
Marta Kauffman spoke at the Austin Film Festival in 2016 and said that it was the opening song that impressed everyone with its vibe. She said, “The studio really didn’t care for the pilot at first. They thought it was sad. So we added the main title sequence with the song, and they were like, ‘Oh, it’s so much happier now.’ We didn’t have to change a single word.”
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6. Monica and Chandler were not ‘meant to be’
Monica and Chandler’s love story started in London as the two hooked up at Ross and Emily’s wedding, but this was not the relationship that was meant to last. The studio audience applauded for 27 seconds after Monica popped from under the covers and the actors had to hold their position. This is when they realised that the relationship between these two was here to stay. Marta Kauffman said at the 2016 Austin Film Festival, “We were stunned. So that’s when we sort of went, ‘Huh, guess this is going in a different direction.”
7. Phoebe and Chandler as supporting characters?
Marta Kauffman revealed in a special flashback episode during the last season of the series that even though the show was supposed to be an ensemble, Phoebe and Chandler were seen as secondary characters when the show started.
8. Budget cuts on Friends
The Season 3 episode The One Where No One’s Ready centres around everyone getting ready as they have to leave for Ross’ function at the museum. In a special flashback episode, co-creator of the show David Crane revealed that this show was entirely set inside one set with only the main cast members because they were making some budget cuts. Crane said that this ‘vice became virtue’ and they did many such experiments in the later years.
9. Phoebe was really pregnant
Lisa Kudrow was pregnant in real life when she was shooting the triplets storyline for Phoebe. In the special flashback episode, Lisa revealed that the makers were not really into hiding the pregnancy as it could have proved to be extremely difficult, so they decided to write her pregnancy into the show.
10. Hank Azaria aka David auditioned for Joey
Hank Azaria’s David flew off to Russia to be a scientist, but his storyline with Phoebe was one of the most memorable storylines of the show. But, Azaria also auditioned for Joey when the show was in its casting stage, but got rejected twice. Azaria told HuffPost in 2014, “That’s the only job I ever auditioned for twice. I thought it was so good — they had rejected me once — I said, ‘I’m going back, I’m gonna do it again, I’m gonna try it again.”