‘Friends’: 3 Things You Forgot About the Pilot Episode
It’s been 27 years since the first episode of Friends aired on NBC. Still, true fans of the show have been watching the pilot episode plus all other 235 installments of the hit series ever since its debut in 1994. It’s the ultimate binge-worthy comedy even more than two decades later.
But everything about everyone’s six favorite Friends characters changed over 10 seasons from how they looked to how they behaved. Here are a few details not everyone remembers about the Friends pilot.
The ‘Friends’ pilot set the tone for the whole series
Though there are many changes over the course of Friends, plenty of characteristics remain the same for Ross Geller (David Schwimmer), Monica Geller (Courteney Cox), Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), and Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow).
The first episode includes Monica introducing her friend Rachel to the group. Rachel shows up at Central Perk soaking wet and wearing a wedding gown. She explains that she left her would-be groom at the altar because she realized she did not love him. Rachel also admits she’s been relying on her father’s money to survive.
Meanwhile, Ross complains that his ex-wife moved out to live with her new lover, who happens to be a woman. Monica gets teased for going on a date but claiming it’s not a date.
The pilot events introduce viewers to Central Perk. It also sets the stage for Ross and Rachel to begin their tumultuous relationship, especially at the end when Ross admits he had a crush on Rachel in high school and asks if he can ask her out.
‘Friends’ may have been inspired by ‘Seinfeld’
Another popular 90s sitcom directly inspired Friends. It also followed single friends dating and working in New York City. Seinfeld was one of the most popular comedies that came before and most likely served as inspiration for the new NBC ensemble series as well. But Friends did things a little differently.
“It’s about sex, love, relationships, careers, a time in your life when everything’s possible. And it’s about friendship because when you’re single and in the city, your friends are your family,” co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane wrote in their original pitch, according to WikiFandom. And they delivered on that promise by interviewing babysitters in their twenties to get a feel for their authentic lives.
Jerry Seinfeld once described Friends as a lot like his own show, but with better-looking people.
‘Friends’ almost looked quite different
A few details changed just before the pilot for Friends premiered to an audience of 22 million. First, the name was originally Insomnia Café, which would have altered the whole tone. Aniston auditioned to play Monica while Cox, the most famous actor of the group at the time, was originally slated to play Rachel. Joey’s character wasn’t originally the same as how he ended up. It was only with the suggestion that his character get “dumbed up” a bit that we ended up with Joey Tribbiani who’s clueless yet loveable.
Ultimately, everything worked out in the favor of Friends, with all six characters becoming the people they were meant to be. The finale left Monica and Chandler married and adopting babies, Rachel and Ross reconciling, and Phoebe married while Joey pursued an acting career. It was all destined from that very first episode if you just look closely enough.