Last week it was announced that the Friends cast is reuniting for an untitled unscripted special for the new streaming service HBO Max. Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer all announced on their Instagram that there will be a reunion. Variety reports that each of the cast members will receive at least $2.5 million apiece for their participation. But why now? Yes, HBO Max needs to bring out the big guns to promote their new service, but why does Friends still resonate enough that these actors are the big guns?
The hit sitcom premiered in 1994 and road the tech bubble. In 2000 and 2001, however, Fiends saw a slight dip in their ratings. This could be due to syndication deals that landed Friends on multiple channels. It could also be that after six seasons, we started to outgrow Ross and Rachel? Then September 11th happened, and Friends saw a big rating boost. For instance, 25.5 million people turned into the October 12th, 2000, season premiere. That season averaged 20.2 million viewers. 31.7 million turned into the September 27th, 2001 season 8 premiere. Season eight averaged 24.5 million viewers per episode.
Friends, in many ways, helped a nation get through its toughest time. I know that is a bold statement, especially when talking about a show that was so white and not up to today’s political correctness. However, America needed Friends. We required our constant. They were there before September 11th, and they were the same after as if the New York City that housed Central Perk did not go through what New York City went through. As if Monica and Chandler didn’t have to deal with the pain of September 11th following their wedding.
With Friends inking a streaming deal with Netflix in 2015, a new generation began to connect with characters like Phoebe and Joey. And although the show may be dated, the characters remained. They are our constant. As long as they all exist on that Central Perk couch or in Monica’s apartment, all is right in the world. A show like Friends is our constant. It helps us get through trying times; it helps us heal.
So why now? The Friends actors are as big today as they were in 2004. Jennifer Aniston, probably the most famous, broke Instagram when she joined with a photo of, you guessed it, the Friends cast. We all see her and Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer as our friends. We need them today as we needed them after September 11th. To feel the comfort that they never went away are still hanging out (and Gunther is still serving them coffee).
Will you watch the Friends reunion in May? Is it worth the HBO Max subscription? Let us know!