What we didn’t know about F.R.I.E.N.D.S

F.R.I.E.N.D.S is without a doubt, one of the longest running and most popular sitcoms of all time, if not THE most popular. The show first aired in September 1994 and ran over ten years giving viewers 238 hilarious episodes spanning over 10 seasons.

The original Friends pitch was a mere seven pages long and described the show as ‘six people in their 20’s who hang out at this coffee house,’ which admittedly, didn’t seem to scream comedy.

What actually makes the show so successful is difficult to say. Is it the gripping story-lines? The brilliant cast? The originality and simplicity of the plot? I personally believe that it’s because a whole generation of young people can relate to at least one of the six members in the cast, whether it be with regards to personality traits, relationship struggles or the difficulties of early adulthood. Whatever the reason, the show is still incredibly popular, despite being 20 years old this year (like me, YAY)!

As a Friends super-fan, I can say with some confidence that I have seen each episode hundreds of times (probably not an exaggeration) and can practically recite most of the script. The show always manages to cheer me up, whether I have had a domestic with the boyfriend, if I’m ill, if I’m having a good day (or a bad day), a Friends fix is sure to cheer me up. Again, I believe that this is because I can relate to the show. It’s highly likely that at least one of the episodes can reflect whatever emotion or problem I am experiencing at the time, through one of the characters. I can personally see myself in all of the characters. I’m quite into fashion and believe in romantic traditions like Rachel. I’m quite pernickety and fastidious like Monica. I’m a bit weird and scatty at times like Phoebe. I like to think I’m quite clever like Ross (not into Dinosaurs though). I think I’m funny like Chandler and I’m a bit dozy like Joey, but hopefully have a generous and kind-hearted nature.

I received a rather large book about Friends for Christmas a few years back but never really read much about it until now. From reading the book and doing a little research of my own, there are quite a few things that many people don’t know about the show which I found quite interesting. I hope you will find them interesting too (which I expect you will if you’re like me and are still obsessed with the show). I have tried to include the ones I found most interesting, and made it a nice round number, 15. (Again, showing my OCD traits like Monica)!


THE BRA – In the episode “The One Where Everybody finds out,” where Phoebe and Chandler play a game of ‘seduction chicken’ with the aim to make Chandler admit he has been seeing Monica. To speed the process along, Joey is seen to pop open the buttons on Phoebe’s shirt in a slick hand movement, thus revealing her bra. He exclaims ‘it’s not my first time’. The live audience’s laughter is very loud at this point as ironically, it took him 12 takes to actually achieve the desired outcome.

LUCK – The guy who plays Gunther (Michael Tyler) was originally an unnamed extra but earned his role because he was the only one able to work the Cappuccino machine in the first episode.  He consequently still earns around $250,000 from re-runs of the show – LUCKY GUY!

NOT FOR ME – The role of Phoebe was originally offered to Ellen DeGeneres, who turned it down, which is why it was then offered to Lisa Kudrow. Ellen did then get a contract for her own chat show ‘Ellen’, so we can’t feel too sorry for her.

LET’S STICK TOGETHER – Each of the six main actors received $22,500 per episode when the show first aired. Every season the pay increased until they were earning up to $1 million an episode in season 10. Whoa. None of the stars was ever paid more than the others, as they all insisted that they were payed equally and negotiated as a group, CUTE!

SWITCHAROO – Courtney Cox (who we know as Monica) was first cast as Rachel and Jennifer Aniston (who we know as Rachel) was cast as Monica. It only took a few takes filming the first episode to realise that the duo should swap roles.

MUSIC TO MY EARS – The opening sequence in the fountain was filmed at 4am; thankfully the water was heated! The cast were given the lines of the opening tune to lip sync as the song had not yet been recorded. In fact, the infamous tune by The Rembrandts ‘I’ll be there for you’ was not the first choice of the producers and was a last minute decision. The producer’s first choice was a song called ‘Shiny Happy People’ by REM.

PICTURE THIS – The little ‘etch-a-sketch’ or ‘magna-doodle’ on the back of Joey and Chandler’s door always displayed pictures of little ‘in jokes’ between the cast which were drawn by crewmember Paul Swain – an unsung hero in my opinion!

UNLUCKY BREAK – The Golden frame around the peep-hole on the back of Monica and Rachel’s door was originally a mirror but a crewmember broke it just before the series started. I wonder if they had 7 years bad luck?

I BET – ‘Die Hard’ star Bruce Willis starred in two episodes, but how much did he get paid? Nothing. Diddly-squat. Nada. He and Matthew Perry (Chandler) had a bet on their film set of ‘The Whole Nine Yards,’ and if Willis lost (which he did, oops) he had to appear in the sitcom for free.

HUG IT OUT – The six friends would all huddle together in a private room before the filming of each episode. They wouldn’t allow any cameras or crewmembers in. How sweet!

IT WASN’T TO BE – Joey and Monica were supposed to be love interests on the show, but the producers decided that it just wouldn’t work. I wonder why?

THE RIGHT DIRECTION – David Schwimmer (Ross) directed 10 episodes including the one where the group finds out that Ross is the father of Rachel’s baby. The role of Ross was also the first cast and was written specifically with David in mind to play the part.

SMELLY CAT – Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) hated playing the guitar, and even suggested that the character played bongos instead. A teacher was brought in, but lessons soon stopped and Lisa only learned a few chords. This is where it was suggested that Phoebe only knew a few chords, and thank goodness she did. We just love how ‘Smelly cat’ turned out!

CAN I HAVE YOUR NUMBER? – The number on the door of Monica’s apartment changes during the series from number 20 to number 5. The crew decided that it was silly being number 5 as the apartment was on a higher floor. Chandler’s apartment also changed from number 4 to 19. I’m not sure what was sillier, having numbers 4 and 5 on higher floors or changing the numbers part way through the series?

MONKEY BUSINESS – The cast frequently deal with animals during the series but the actors didn’t always like them. Lisa (Phoebe) was scared of the duck that appears in season three. Marcel, Ross’s pet monkey was played by two monkeys (Monkey and Katie) and was cut from the show because it was becoming too time consuming to shoot with a monkey. There was one scene where the monkey was meant to pick up a bra, but ended up throwing it at Jennifer (Rachel) instead. Naughty!


On April 21 of this year, Courtney Cox (Monica) went on ‘The Late Show’ where she was asked about the possibility of a reunion. Cox responded, “It’s not going to happen”. She then went on to explain that it’s difficult enough for the six of them to get together for a cast dinner, let alone have a full-fledged reunion. SAD FACE!

Although a reunion would be great, and would probably be loved by many, I’m not sure it could live up to everyone’s high expectations. I would hate for there to be a reunion, only for the magic of where Friends ended to be ruined. I believe that sometimes, things are best left alone and this may be one of them.

We’ll always be there for you, Friends, just like you’re always there for us!

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