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Friends' Continued Relevancy Is Mind-Blowing To Barry Actor Mitchell Whitfield

When "Friends" made its debut in 1994, not only were viewers introduced to the six-person friend group, but the pilot episode's storyline also included a wedding dress-wearing Rachel's unseen — and jilted — groom, Barry (Mitchell Whitfield). In the episode, Rachel realizes she is more turned on by a wedding gift of a gravy boat than her future husband, so she hightails it out of there, thus paving the way for Ross and Rachel's rollercoaster romance that runs for the remainder of the series.

Nearly 30 years after "Friends" premiered, the show airs in syndication all over the world. The fan-favorite sitcom remains relevant enough to warrant an interactive "Friends Experience" and merch sales decades later.

In an interview with "Jim Conlan Chats," Mitchell Whitfield admitted he can't believe how popular "Friends" remains three decades after its original run. The actor pointed out that the show constantly gets new viewers on cable networks and streaming platforms. "A whole new generation gets to enjoy the show all over again, and there's this resurgence of attention ... this new audience that is consuming the show," he said. "As an actor, you never think when you do something, 'This is going to be something that lasts for decades. I'm going to be relevant for decades to come,'" he added. "And then, sure enough, you have these projects that are still around that give you visibility, that people still talk about. It's kind of mind-blowing."

Mitchell Whitfield credits his character for kicking off Friends

Mitchell Whitfield's character, Dr. Barry Farber, DDS, aka the Evil Orthodontist, first turned up in the 2nd episode of "Friends." He later appeared in five more episodes from 1995 to 2000, where viewers found out that he cheated on Rachel with her maid of honor, Mindy, and even her sister Amy back in the day, thus making him the show's original womanizer. (Sorry, Joey!) In an interview with Today, Whitfield maintained that his character was not a jerk but was instead "misunderstood."

And while he may not have played a main character, in 2019 Whitfield took credit where due in an interview with The Guardian. "It sounds a little egomaniacal to say that I'm the reason the show exists. But when you look at the pilot, with Rachel dumping me at the altar and coming in to meet everybody, that moment was the impetus for the show," Whitfield told the outlet.

Whitfield, who dished that he originally auditioned for the Ross character that went to Schwimmer, also revealed that by the end of the NBC sitcom's 1st season in 1995 — a season in which he appeared in just three episodes — he was already being recognized by fans, and he knew that meant something big was brewing. He explained, "I started getting people saying, 'Oh, you're that jerk on "Friends."' That's when I thought, 'This thing is definitely starting to take off.'"