As the FRIENDS Reunion drops on Zee5 in India, it seems like an appropriate time to uncover some of the secrets of the how that you probably didn’t know.
1. They almost moved the show’s setting to Minnesota
Friends is one of those iconic shows that you cannot picture being set in any other city than New York City. Yet, just a little before the fifth season of the show, the writers discussed the possibility of moving the show’s setting. While they’ve never revealed to what city exactly they were thinking of moving the show, they’ve mentioned once that they were considering moving one of the characters to the US state of Minnesota. The writers of the show had pitched the move to Minnesota as a place where the group would find ‘cheap apartments, friendly neighbours and sub-zero temperatures.’
As you know, Chandler did move out of NYC to Tulsa, Oklahoma in the ninth season but the rest of the cast remained in New York City. Of course, it’s impossible to imagine Friends being set in any other city and for a good reason.
However, How I met your Mother, often seen as a successor to Friends, did have a major character from Minnesota – Marshall.
2. The cast members had a pact that they wouldn’t sleep with each other
The general belief is that there was a contract that the six leading cast members of Friends – Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer – had signed with the producers that they wouldn’t get romantically or physically involved with each other. However, some years ago they dispelled this notion.
Truth however is that they did have a pact that they wouldn’t get involved because otherwise it would affect their onscreen chemistry. However the plot thickens.
At a special gathering to doff their hats to Jim Burrows, the show’s director, David Schwimmer mumbled something to the effect of: ‘That didn’t last long’ when he was asked if Burrows had made them sign a contract that prohibited from sleeping with each other.
Of course we will never know the truth.
3. Monica and Chandler were supposed to have just a one-night stand
According to the original plan, Monica and Chandler’s one-night stand in London at Ross’ ill-fated wedding to Emily was supposed to be just that: a one-night fling. According to the makers of the show, the idea was to make it a one-time thing and use it as a recurring trope where the two would get teased about it by their friends in the successive seasons. Monica and Chandler were not supposed to end up together to begin with! But when the writers saw just how bonkers the audience went after that track, they decided to go along with it and explore that relationship further. It helped that the two characters were so great together and as were Perry and Cox that it made the writers’ job quite easy.
4. Monica and Joey were supposed to be the main couple
Even though all the six characters received the same amount of screen time, we’ve always known that the main couple on the show was Rachel and Ross. However that wasn’t supposed to be the case originally.
The main couple on Friends was supposed to be Monica and Joey. Not only did the two not end up together – we do see in a flashback episode what would’ve happened to poor Joey if they had ended up together (He puts on weight, guys. He puts on a LOT of weight; it’s unhealthy.). But that joke aside, the writers didn’t see Joey and Monica together in the long term.
And in retrospect that was a great decision.
5. The TV execs didn’t think the show would fly
In some ways, Friends changed the way shows were being made. For perhaps the first time on American television there was a show that focussed solely on six early 20-somethings.
The general belief at the time was to make a show that would feature a wider demographic of lead characters so as to appeal to as wide set of audiences and make it possible to rope in as many viewers and as many advertisers.
This is no longer the case. Log into Netflix and you’ll see that majority of the shows today are directed at Gen Z (late teens and early 20s).
In some ways Friends was responsible for that to happen.