Appearing on Friends: The Reunion, which debuted on BINGE on May 27, the creators of the emblematic sitcom — Marta Kauffman, David Crane and Kevin Bright — shared their memories of casting Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox and the emotions that came with wrapping the series after a decade.
Each of the driving forces behind the beloved show spoke to The Hollywood Reporter after the reunion, where they opened up about what they might have done differently over the course of Friends‘ ten seasons, looking back.
Reflecting on the wedding episode that sees Ross’s ex-wife Carol (Jane Sibbet) tie the knot with Susan (Jessica Hecht) Crane admits she regrets how it played out saying, “I was happy that Carol and Susan got married but my only wish looking back is that we had told that story more from their point of view.
“Our mantra was always that the show was about the six of them. And so many of the stories happened off-screen and the six would come back together at the apartment of the coffee house and they’d talk about what just happened. I wish we had violated that rule in that case.”
For his part, Bright still can’t believe they got away with the episode at all given how different the time was when it aired.
“When the show gets hammered about a lack of diversity, I like that episode also to be remembered as doing something that nobody else had done before: a lesbian wedding on television. I would have figured that NBC would have been so pressured by the middle of the country that they would have shut it down — and they didn’t,” he said.
For the executive producer and director, his least favourite storyline was a raunchier one.
“I’m not a big fan of Monica thinking Chandler likes watching shark sex to get off,” he revealed. “I thought that bit belonged in a Seinfeld episode, not on our show.”
Thoughts of what could, and perhaps should, have been different extend beyond Friends and even to its singular spinoff — the ill-fated Joey which ran for two seasons from 2004-2006.
“I’m not a fan of the storyline of Joey,” Bright confessed. I’m the producer of the show and that storyline did not do service to the character.
“It should have been far more an Entourage than it was this family “Joey needs to grow up” show. Joey would have gotten a pilot, come out to Hollywood and had the time of his life and gotten into all kinds of trouble. And we would have discovered new parts of Joey in the process.”
Surprisingly, a storyline the producers seem to have no qualms about was one that most fans cite as being the worst part of the series — the romantic development between Joey and Rachel.
Said Krane, “The cast revolted when they read the first script on it: “No. Joey would never do this to Ross.” Marta and David were able to explain how it wasn’t going to end in a place that would compromise Joey as a character for stealing his buddy’s girlfriend.
“That almost didn’t happen. And we would have lost what was a very good season for that. I’m glad they won that one.”
We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one…
When asked about the controversy that has arisen in recent years due to the lack of diversity in the series, which was inspired by Kauffman and Crane’s own lives, Kauffman insists that the all-white, heteronormative casting was neither intentional nor conscious.
“There are many things that I could say if I only knew then what I know now,” she said. “Back then, there was no conscious decision. We saw people of every race, religion, colour. These were the six people we cast. So, it was certainly not conscious.”
Added Crane, “It’s important for today’s shows to be reflective of the ways society truly is. But for our experience, the three of us, that may have been our experience when we were young and in New York. But we didn’t intend to have an all-white cast. That was not the goal, either. Obviously, the chemistry between these six actors speaks for itself.”
Kauffman later continued, “There are probably a hundred things I would have done differently. I’ve talked about it in the past and I do have very strong feelings about my participation in a system, but it comes down to I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”