I guess they were just on a break? Must’ve been, because we’re feeling as elated as the one where Ross and Rachel got back together now that we have confirmation the Friends reunion is happening on HBO Max. It’s the kind of news that reconfirms ‘90s nostalgia is in the air, but also that Friends remains one of the most beloved sitcoms of all-time. After all, it was more than 25 years ago when Friends began its historic run on Sept. 22, 1994, and still another nearly 16 years since its final farewell in May 2004. And yet, all six of your favorite New York lay-abouts are back.
WarnerMedia crowed the historic news that series stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Leblanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer will all return to the iconic series’ original Stage 24 soundstage on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California. Adding “one” more to the series’ original 236-episode run, the Friends reunion will drop during HBO Max’s launch, alongside all 10 seasons of the original series for fans in a binging mood.
“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together — we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa, and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max. “I became aware of Friends when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation. It taps into an era when friends – and audiences – gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”
The special has lined up Ben Winston to direct and executive produce alongside original Friends executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. All six members of the original cast will also executive produce (Deadline, meanwhile, suggests they’re each getting a cool $3 to $4 million for this shindig).
It’s also worth noting that this reunion will be the actors as themselves in an unscripted reunion situation, as opposed to an actual television movie or the like where we check in on Monica and Chandler, presumably with Joey still living in the apartment above their garage, 15 years onward.
Yet the fact they’re doing this, and that it’s a feature in HBO Max’s launch, is a testament to the longevity and popularity of the sitcom. One of the touchstone comedies of the 1990s and early 2000s, Friends stunned when it came out of the gates swinging, averaging over 24 million viewers during the very first season and reaching 31.3 million viewers in that year. It peaked at over 52 million viewers during its post-Super Bowl episode in 1996 and for the series finale in 2004.
A story about six friends living in New York City where they grumbled about (some) of their bad jobs but otherwise drank coffee and entered into different romantic pairings, the series was initially seen as a successor to Seinfeld’s “just hanging out” formula before defining its own more mainstream and go-lucky tone. It also created one of the most popular romantic “will they or won’t they” pairings in television history via Ross and Rachel’s on-again, off-again love affair.
Other subsidiaries in the AT&T media empire will also contribute in building up to the reunion’s hype since TBS announced every episode of Friends will air over the next four weeks on weekdays between 10am and 4pm, and be available on the TBS app. That’s a lot of “How you doin’”s in a very short order.
David Crow is the Film Section Editor at Den of Geek. He’s also a member of both the Critics Choice Association and the Online Film Critics Society. Read more of his work here. You can follow him on Twitter @DCrowsNest.