‘Friends’ Cast Finds HBO Reunion ‘Melancholy’

The nostalgia bug has bitten ’90s sitcom fans, leading to many reboots and reunions. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air rounded up its castmates for a sitdown recently. And following in their footsteps are the stars of Friends. The gang will soon reconvene to chat about their time on the show for HBO Max, and fans can’t wait.

But though this seems like a celebratory moment, it was a bittersweet experience for the Friends alums. In fact, they found the reunion “melancholy.” 

‘Friends’ helped define ’90s TV

The cast of 'Friends' — Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, and Jennifer Aniston — sat down with Jay Leno on the set of Central Perk on May 6, 2004, in Los Angeles
The cast of ‘Friends’ on ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno’ in May 2004 | Paul Drinkwater/NBC via Getty Images

Friends was one of the crown jewels of NBC’s “Must See TV” lineup in the ’90s and early 2000s. It didn’t break barriers the way Seinfeld did, but it was insanely popular and well-written.

The show’s premise — a group of young, good-looking single people living in New York City — wasn’t original. Like Fox’s Living Single before it, Friends followed the lives of young people who were adults but not yet at the stage of life when they were ready for families. 

So much about the show seeped into the Zeitgeist. Women everywhere copied co-star Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyles. Viewers mimicked Matthew Perry’s iconic “Could you be any more [insert adjective]?” delivery. The Ross-Rachel romance became one of TV’s most famous examples of a couple that kept trying to get together but couldn’t quite last.

And who could forget the show’s iconic theme song, “I’ll Be There for You”? It not only greeted viewers before every episode but also became a staple on ’90s pop radio. 

‘Friends’ aired longer than most shows

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Friends aired from 1994 to 2004, IMDb reports. On a list of the longest-running sitcoms of all time, it ranks 15th. That’s an impressive run. In this day and age, when entertainment seems expendable, TV shows don’t usually last long. The idea of a series running for more than a decade in this era is almost out of the question. 

From the co-stars’ perspective, this meant they got a great opportunity to get to know one another. They became famously close, staying in contact and remaining friendly throughout the years. That might be why reuniting wasn’t all smiles and happiness but also an opportunity for reflection. 

The cast found the HBO Max reunion ‘melancholy’

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HBO Max brought the Friends alums together for an “unscripted” reunion, where the six main cast members sat down to reminisce about the show’s historic run. Unlike the Fresh Prince reunion, there wasn’t any need to clear the air between any of the Friends cast members — by all accounts, everyone got along throughout the show’s run and still does today. But according to People, that doesn’t mean sadness didn’t hang the air. 

Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey, said the event was “kind of melancholy, I guess. Right?” Co-star Lisa Kudrow agreed, adding, “Yeah, emotional.”

This is understandable. The Friends castmates are all in their 50s now, which is quite a time jump from when most fans remember the co-stars in the ’90s.

Though the chance to get back together is certainly great for them, it also marks the passing of time and the realization they’ve long since moved on to other projects and parts of their lives. Still, it must have been great for them to catch up, and fans will certainly love seeing it when it airs on HBO Max on Thursday, May 27.