When Friends debuted in 1994, it must have seemed like one of the most unusual TV shows to have ever become successful. Friends was a show about a group of twenty-somethings who lived in Manhattan… and that was pretty much it.
The thing that made Friends a hit was its sharp writing, excellent cast, its portrayal of the changing nature of relationships, and the ideas of family that were starting to become more commonplace in the ’90s. Friends was a pioneer in showing the sexual dynamics of a group of young, unattached acquaintances, who were free to date each other freely.
The show also wasn’t afraid to depict homosexual characters on prime time TV (mostly in the form of Ross’ ex-wife, Carol), as well as portraying unusual parenting situations (again, in the form of Ross and Carol) in a positive way.
We are here today to look at the unusual history of one of the most popular TV shows of all time. From the unofficial crossover with Caroline in the City, to the pregnancy finale that never came to pass, here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Friends.
15. Friends Had An Unofficial Crossover With Caroline In The City
The success of Friends and Seinfeld naturally led to a lot of similar shows being produced. One of the most well-known of these was Caroline in the City, which focused on a famous cartoonist as she searched for love in the big city. Caroline in the City was popular enough with the producers of Friends that the two shows had an unofficial crossover.
Lea Thompson plays a very similar character to Caroline in the Friends episode called “The One With The Baby On The Bus”, playing the woman who thinks that Chandler and Joey are two gay men who have adopted a baby together.
Matthew Perry would go on to play Chandler Bing in an episode of Caroline in the City. He encounters Caroline’s friend Annie in a video store and tries to impress her by pretending that he wants to rent The Piano. It turns out that she likes the same action schlock that he does and when she challenges him to just act like himself, he runs out of the video store.
14. Gunther’s Actor Was Only Hired Because He Knew How To Use An Espresso Machine
The six main actors in Friends are the ones who appeared in the most episodes of the show, but the second most constant character was Gunther– the guest character who appeared in the most episodes. He was played by James Michael Tyler since the second episode of the show. Gunther was the manager of Central Perk, who secretly longed after Rachel throughout the show.
Tyler only snagged the role of Gunther due to a certain skill that he had, which no other actor at the audition possessed. He was hired because he was the only actor who could work an espresso machine, which was considered useful to someone who was playing the manager of a coffee shop. Tyler would go on to appear in 185 episodes of Friends.
13. Lisa Kudrow Almost Missed Friends Because She Was Hired To Play Roz In Frasier
Lisa Kudrow will forever be known for playing Phoebe Buffay on Friends. She had a long career in movies and TV shows before Friends, but the show where she got her big break. However, Kudrow almost missed the opportunity to join the cast of Friends, as she was originally cast in Frasier, which was one of the other big hit comedies of the ’90s.
When Frasier was first being cast, the creators of the show originally had Peri Gilpin in mind to play the role of Roz, who was going to be the producer of Frasier’s radio show. Lisa Kudrow briefly convinced them to change their minds and they chose her for the role instead.
12. Joey’s Secret Swearing Segment
When Friends debuted in 1994, it was considered to be a racy show due to how much the characters talked about sex. This aspect of the show became more prominent as time went on, as Friends had storylines that dealt with threesomes, pornography, shark sex, and Monica making a fake foreskin for Joey in what might be the most bizarre plot ever created for a television show. This would come back to haunt the show, as several episodes were heavily censored or outright removed from daytime circulation.
It seems like everyone on set was pretty laid back about certain topics. The DVDs of the show contained deleted scenes that originally had to be cut for time. One of these deleted scenes has Joey dropping an S-bomb, which never made it to air. When Ross asks him if he is hungry, Joey responds with “does a bear s**t in the woods?”
11. Friends Is Responsible For Dissuading Terrorism
It can be hard to predict which shows will become an international hit. This is especially true of comedies, which often rely on referential humor that may not be understood by foreigners. Anime and manga fans often run into this, as Japanese humor can sometimes contain cultural allusions which Westerners won’t understand.
However, Friends was a show that managed to become a success around the world, despite the nature of its comedy. In fact, Friends has also been useful in preventing terrorism, as audiences around the world don’t want to risk blowing up any potential Rachels who haven’t yet met their Rosses.
According to Wikileaks: the presence of American television in Saudi Arabia has done more to combat extremism than any form of propaganda. Friends is one such show that is beloved in the region. The characters help to present Westerners in a positive light– which means that they probably skipped the episode where Ross cheats on Rachel while they were on a break.
10. Emily Was Going To Have A Bigger Role In The Show
In the fourth season of Friends, Ross starts dating an English girl named Emily Waltham. The two of them get engaged, which leads to a season finale where the cast travels to London for the wedding. Ross screws up while saying the wedding vows, as he accidentally calls her Rachel.
Ross and Emily break up in season five, which leads to their marriage being annulled. We only see Emily for a few brief scenes during this season, which are mostly phone conversations that she has with Ross.
The creators of Friends had originally planned for Emily to have a bigger role in the fifth season, but were forced to scale them back. This was partly because Emily’s actress (Helen Baxendale) became pregnant after season four finished filming.
She also wanted to sever her ties with the show as quickly as possible, due to all of the unwanted tabloid attention she was receiving at the time. This is why Emily never cameoed in any of the later episodes of the show’s run.
9. Matthew Perry Refused To Do A Storyline Where Chandler Hung Out In A Male Strip Club
One of the most prominent urban legends surrounding Friends is the idea that Chandler was originally planned to be gay. This wasn’t actually the case. The creators of the show simply hadn’t thought of any long term plans for Chandler’s romantic life, as his relationship with Monica was a last minute decision. It was therefore easy to project the idea that the nerdy loser may have actually been chasing the wrong kind of person all along.
The one person who was serious about not portraying Chandler as gay was Matthew Perry himself. He rejected an idea that was pitched to him by the writing staff, which involved Chandler hanging out in a gay strip club because he liked the sandwiches that they served there. This sounds like a potentially funny idea, but it seems that Perry didn’t want any kind of serious hints as to whether Chandler was gay.
8. Chandler and Monica Did End Up Having A Kid
The final episode of Friends ends with Ross and Rachel finally getting together. Phoebe is now happily married to Ant-Man, and Monica & Chandler take their adopted twins home for the first time. Joey also goes off to Los Angelas to star in his own sitcom, but we don’t talk about that.
It seems that the Friends cast got the happy ending that we all wanted for them. There is more to the story, however…
Kevin Blight is one of the creators of Friends. He gave his opinion on what happened to the cast of the show during an interview in 2012. According to Blight, Joey would go on to become a major film star, Phoebe would open her own line of holistic spas, and Ross and Rachel would have another child.
7. NBC Once Asked The Audience’s Opinion On Monica’s Promiscuity
The pilot episode of Friends was made during the summer of 1994. This was clearly a very different time in the entertainment industry, as the executives at NBC were worried about a specific scene where Monica slept with a man after their first date.
One of the storylines in the pilot episode involves Monica dating a man who claims to be impotent. This is actually a ruse on his part, as it is just a way to convince women to sleep with him in an effort to “fix” his problem.
When the episode was first shown to test audiences, NBC handed out a questionnaire which asked the viewers about Monica’s storyline and asked if her promiscuous behavior was objectionable. The test audience clearly had no issue with the plot, as it made it into the final broadcast of the episode.
6. Is It Green Or Greene?
Friends was a show that eventually stopped caring about its continuity. It went with The Simpsons route of constantly retconning previously established facts, in order to suit whatever new joke they wanted to make. One of the biggest examples of this involves how Rachel first met Chandler.
They are introduced to each other for the first time in the pilot episode. However, it was later established that they had known each other for years, with Rachel being there the day Monica accidentally cut Chandler’s toe off.
One aspect of Rachel’s character that changed was the spelling of her surname. We see it written as both “Green” and “Greene” throughout the series. It was mostly spelled without the letter “E” on the end, though we do see the “Greene” spelling in a few important places, such as on her Ralph Lauren nameplate and on her daughter’s birth certificate. You would think that those would be important enough to be corrected if they were wrong.
5. The Blackout Crossover
The first season of Friends has an episode called “The One With The Blackout”. In it, there is a power outage in all of New York City, which traps most of the cast in Monica’s apartment. The exception to this is Chandler, who is trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre, who was a famous Victoria’s Secret model.
Those who didn’t watch the episode when it was first broadcast in 1994 are probably not aware that this episode was part of a company-wide crossover, called “Blackout Thursday.” The theme of Blackout Thursday was spread across Friends, Mad About You, and Seinfeld, and started with Mad About You who were the first to deal with the “blackout” episode. Blackout Thursday would end with a character from Madman of the People writing a story about the incident.
Blackout Thursday was technically ruined by Seinfeld, as they refused to take part in the event. The Seinfeld episode that ran during the event (“The Gymnast”) did not involve any power outage in New York.
4. The Finale Was One Of The Most Watched Episodes Of All Time
When determining the most watched TV shows of all time, you have to immediately discount any of the Superbowls, as they would easily dominate the list. If you are just focusing on fictional programming, however, then Friends definitely makes the cut as one of the most watched TV shows of all time. It drew in millions of viewers during its initial run and is still worth a lot of money in syndication.
The finale of Friends was the pinnacle of the show’s viewership, as the last episode drew over sixty-five million viewers when it was first broadcasted. This makes the Friends finale the fourth most watched finale episode of all time. It is placed behind Seinfeld, Cheers, and M*A*S*H in terms of numbers.
It seems that these numbers will never be defeated, due to the fundamental changes in the way that people watch television. Even if there was a Friends reunion, it would have its viewing figures cannibalized by DVRs and streaming media, which is to say nothing of piracy.
3. The Show Was Almost Completely Filmed In California
Friends is very much a show about New York City. It might come as a surprise then, to learn that the show was almost totally filmed in a studio in California.
New York City has a lot of production companies, but it can still be an expensive place to film. It was for this reason that the vast majority of Friends was filmed in a Burbank studio, as the show mainly took place on indoor sets.
Though they could have filmed Friends pretty much anywhere, as the cast rarely left their apartment buildings or Central Perk. Even the streets of New York were built using indoor sets in California.
Friends was not the only show to be in set in New York but filmed in California. It was cheaper for the producers of Ugly Betty to CGI New York City into the background of shots than it was to actually film there.
2. Rent Is Not Realistic In The Friends Universe
Manhattan is one of the most expensive places on Earth to live, but this hasn’t stopped numerous TV shows from using Manhattan as a setting and having the cast live in giant apartments. Characters like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City and Caroline Duffy of Caroline in the City are able to live in gigantic apartments, despite having jobs that give them enough free time to go on wacky adventures every week.
Friends gave a rather weak excuse as to why Monica could afford a huge New York City apartment. According to Monica, the apartment is in her grandmother’s name and has rent control, which she is subletting illegally.
If you were to find a place in Manhattan that was the same size as Monica and Rachel’s apartment, then you would be looking at paying around $14,000 a month. You’re going to need to sell a lot of coffees at Central Perk to be able to afford that kind of rent.
1. Season 6 Was Going To End With Elizabeth Getting Pregnant
In the sixth season of Friends, Ross started dating Elizabeth Stevens, who was one of his students. They have t0 hide their relationship, as it was against University rules for teachers to date students. The story of their relationship was spread across the sixth season, where it was mainly used as fodder for making jokes about the age difference between the two of them.
The season of Friends was originally intended to end with the reveal that Elizabeth was pregnant with Ross’ child, and it would later be revealed in the seventh season that someone else was the father of the child. Elizabeth’s pregnancy was intended to be the cliffhanger of the season. It was scrapped, however, because it would interfere with the intended cliffhanger of the seventh season, which was already planned out in advance.
It was also a similar story that was already planned for Rachel and Ross at the end of season seven. The producers felt that the two cliffhangers would have been too similar, so Elizabeth’s story was cut short. This means season six of Friends was the only one to not end on a cliffhanger. It instead ends with Monica proposing to Chandler and the two of them dancing to “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Friends? Let us know in the comment section!
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