‘Friends’: Will the Reunion Be Live or Taped?

Friends is one of the most beloved television series of the 1990s. Fans have eagerly waited for it to return in some way. After all, if Full House and Twin Peaks got follow-ups, why not Friends?

Of course, any plans for a follow-up have been complicated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, we still have some insight into what the chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment wants the show to be like. Here’s some of what we currently know about the long-awaited Friends reunion.

Characters from Friends drinking milkshakes | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

The plans for the ‘Friends’ reunion

Sometimes, sitcoms try to shake things up by filming a live episode. The Friends reunion, like all television reunions, seems to be rooted in nostalgia, which is all about reliving the past. Variety reports that, fittingly, the Friends reunion is going to be taped, just like the earlier episodes of the show.

Mental Floss reports that, back during the show’s initial run, filming an episode took quite awhile. Typically, a single episode, which was less than a half-hour long, would take a full five hours to film. Over the course of that time, the cast would redo a scene multiple times. It would take a whole 20 minutes for a set to be changed, meaning that the cast got to take breaks during set changes.

How plans for the reunion have changed and could change

The intro to Friends

Of course, the new episode of Friends could always be filmed in quarantine in some way. After all, late-night hosts like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher are filming their shows from quarantine. Bob Greenblatt, the CEO of WarnerMedia Entertainment said he could have the reunion filmed in quarantine but would prefer to wait until the quarantine is over and film the reunion in a conventional way.

Greenblatt feels a reunion with a more conventional setup will be worth the wait. Originally, the special was going to premiere on May 27, 2020. HBO Max debuts in a few weeks but the reunion won’t be there. He told Variety “We would have loved to have had it on [HBO Max on] Day One, but at the same time, if we can get it launched in the fall, I think it’ll be something that we can have the audience really looking forward to as well.”

According to Today, the reunion is set to film on Stage 24 on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California. This is the same stage where the show was originally filmed. Such a creative decision could certainly be nostalgic for fans. However, plans like this could fall through if the coronavirus pandemic does not allow for it.

Of course, there’s always the chance the pandemic will last for an incredibly long time. Digital Spy reports Greenblatt is open to “go[ing] more to a virtual route” if the reunion is delayed for too long. An online reunion for the lead characters of Friends would certainly be unexpected. However, if it’s well-written, some fans will certainly be open to the change.

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