‘Friends’ Writers Don’t Like 1 Monica-Rachel Subplot

When it comes to 90s and early 2000s sitcoms, very few TV shows can compare to Friends and its immense fame, success, and fan base. Even to this day, loyal fans still watch Friends reruns on the regular, and the fan base continues to grow well after its 2004 series finale.

However, there’s one storyline, in particular, that not only debuted a famous actor of the time that proved to be challenging to work with but also had one Monica-Rachel subplot that writers weren’t very fond of.

The premise of ‘Friends’

Jennifer Aniston hugging Courteney Cox
Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The premise of Friends is that a group of six finds themselves tied together in the most important years of their lives — their 20s — and taking on relationships problems, fertility issues, family drama, and professional struggles, all while leaning on each other for the support needed to get through it.

Phoebe, Ross, Joey, Rachel, Monica, and Joey all find it hard to navigate their personal lives and career but rely on the strength and connection between each other to not only get through it but bring more meaning to their lives.

‘The One After The Superbowl’ and the challenge of working with Van Damme

In anticipation of premiering in a primetime slot after the Superbowl in ’96, Friends creators jam-packed the episode with stars and storylines to fill a whole hour instead of its original 30 minutes.

The episode brought back Ross’s monkey, introduced Julia Roberts as a love interest (and long-time revenge) for Chandler and brought in Jean-Claude Van Damme as a romantic tension between Rachel and Monica. All of which was significantly successful despite some notable problems that came up while working with Van Damme.

According to Best Life, the actor was demanding, late, and even inappropriate. Following a kissing scene with Rachel, Jennifer Aniston asked the director to tell Van Damme not to use tongue when kissing. Despite bringing this up to him, Courteney Cox also had to go to the director to get Van Damme to keep his tongue in his mouth.

“I couldn’t believe it! I had to tell him again, but a little firmer,” director Michael Lembeck said.

Writers remorse following the Van Damme episode

Just because a group of writers created and let some stories go into production doesn’t mean they were particularly fond of the outcome or even the story in question. Just like with everything in film and TV, there are just some storylines that don’t sit well after the fact.

For Friends writers, it was the Monica-Rachel subplot with Van Damme.

Best Life reported that the writers also had some mixed feelings about the episode.

“He’s not a comedy star, and I think it showed,” the magazine reports writer Michael Borokow saying. “On the other hand, we didn’t need him to be funny. We needed a big Hollywood star that the girls would fight over, and he did that great.”

On the other hand, writer Alexa Junge doesn’t have much to say about the casting, but rather the Monica/Rachel fight over a boy they barely knew that resulted in a lot of tension in their friendship (fortunately, it didn’t last longer than the episode). “I didn’t like that storyline,” Junge admitted. “I was upset that Monica and Rachel sold each other out romantically.”

As it turns out, there were quite a few things wrong/challenging with the Friends The One After the Superbowl” episode behind the scenes. However, it proved to be highly rated among viewers and successful in the primetime spot following the Superbowl that year, premiering some of the biggest actors of its time and doubling down on air time to heighten its success.

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