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Questions Fans Have About The Friends Reunion

"Friends" originally aired on NBC between 1994 and 2004, with its series finale becoming the most-watched TV episode of the decade in the United States, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. From the very moment the finale aired on May 6, 2004, fans have been hoping and angling for a reunion. The question has been a constant presence for the cast as they moved on to other projects and built new shows and individual careers. Viewers and media couldn't help but wish for the group to get back together. 

In the years since "Friends" ended, all six main cast members had been ignoring and rejecting any hopes for a reunion. In 2019, Jennifer Aniston told Howard Stern that a reunion "won't be even close to as good ... It would ruin it." In 2018, David Schwimmer sidestepped questions on "Meghan Kelly Today" about a possible homecoming, stating, "I really doubt it." In 2017, Matthew Perry told Variety that he had actual nightmares about a Friends reunion, and in 2013, Lisa Kudrow told Conan O'Brien very bluntly, "That's never going to happen." 

Then, in September 2019, rumors began to circulate, according to the The Hollywood Reporter, that a reunion special was finally in the works, and Jennifer Aniston even posted an picture of the entire gang reunited on her Instagram page in October 2019. 

Who will be returning for the special and when?

Filming for the special was supposed to have started in March of last year and be part of the launch for HBO Max, but shooting was delayed by the pandemic (via Variety). They finally were able to begin filming the special in April of this year, and on May 13, HBO Max dropped a teaser trailer confirming that the show will air on May 27, 2021. 

According to BBC America, it has been confirmed that all six main players will be returning for the reunion, as well as series creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman. However, these won't be the only faces we'll be seeing. Multiple fan favorites are also reported to make appearances, including James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther, the Central Perk Barista with a crush on Rachel; Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice, Chandler's on-again, off-again girlfriend; Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles, who appeared as Jack and Judy Geller, parents of Monica and Ross, Reese Witherspoon, who played Rachel's sister Jill; Tom Selleck, who portrayed Dr. Richard Burke, one of Monica's most significant relationships; and Larry Hankin, who played Mr. Heckles, the curmudgeonly downstairs neighbor who dies in Season 2. Unfortunately, Paul Rudd, who played Phoebe's husband Mike Hannigan, will not be able to join. 

BBC America also reports that they'll also be joined by special celebrity guests such as David Beckham, Justin Bieber, BTS, James Corden, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, Kit Harington, Mindy Kaling, and even Malala Yousafzai, who is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history. 

How much did all this cost?

According to Variety, in 2020, all 10 seasons of "Friends" left Netflix and joined HBO Max in a deal that is rumored to have cost WarnerMedia more than $400 million for the rights to the series. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the stars negotiated their fees together and will be paid between $2.5 million and $3 million each for the reunion special. That's much more than the $1 million-per-episode rates they had when "Friends" was still running. 

HBO Max is also one of the more expensive streaming platforms, at $14.99 a month. Most competitors range their subscriptions between $5 to $12 a month. It's due to this high initial cost that HBO Max has to justify its fee, by using colossal attractions like the "Friends" cast. They are also featuring an intriguing catalog of movies and TV shows that includes "The Matrix," "The Big Bang Theory," and most of the DC movies (via The Verge)

The reunion taped at the original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank California, where all ten seasons of the original show were shot in front of a live audience

What will be the story line?

The reunion will not be like a typical "Friends" episode you would expect. None of the stars will be in character but will instead be themselves more reminiscing about the impact and history of the show. David Schwimmer told Graham Norton in April 2021, "I'll be David. Nothing is scripted, and we are not in character ... We are all ourselves, although there is one section of it that I don't want to give away, but we all read something." 

To break it down simply, the television event is more akin to reunion of the cast rather than a continuation from their last season, a reboot, or a revival. Time Out reports that unlike other NBC shows such as "Will & Grace" and "Mad About You," which created new episodes of their classic sitcoms, this is being described as a "real-life unscripted celebration" rather than a continuation of the storyline. Chances are that it will be more in line with the sort of atmosphere we saw during the "Fresh Prince Reunion," which did not have the actors in character but instead brought back its cast back to discuss the show's legacy. 

Ben Winston directed the special and executive-produced along with Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. Additionally, the entire original cast also executive-produced the special.