‘Friends: The Meeting’, the premiere of the recurring joke turned into a placebo for the soul

The eighth season of Friends began airing in the United States 16 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Comedy, which all those years had been the preferred option in its time slot, managed for the first time to be crowned as the most viewed content of the season, a position that always took it away Emergencies.

That rising audience curve, a completely unprecedented phenomenon in such a long-lived show, reflected how audiences felt about the series. The viewer knew what he was going to find if he tuned into his television set to NBC on Thursdays at eight o’clock in the evening. There would be a New York with Twin Towers. Thus, in addition to a utopian and invincible place, it would also return to its protagonists, converted into the warmth of home. They were the closest thing to imaginary childhood friends, helping to channel emotions and adapt to an unknown world. The 22-minute placebo pills that until then had alleviated small fears and disappointments were thereafter served as medicine against existential terrors and anguish that 20 years of history have confirmed as justified.

Friends: The Reunion, that HBO Spain and HBO Max in the United States include from this Thursday in their catalog – Latin America will have to wait for the arrival of this last platform in June – does not advance in the plots of its characters because it is not a fiction. Through its actors, it recovers the six protagonists who built a new family model: the chosen one. Together they shared the same recurring jokes, after the same tuning and in the same sets that occupied the screen for a decade. Remember, in short, all those elements that made a fiction, based on everyday life, a bit of reality for its followers. And those jokes – Ross’s divorce trend, Monica’s quirks, Rachel and Ross’ break, Joey’s dating phrase, the Smelly Cat Phoebe, Chandler’s unknown work, and Janice herself) are still alive in this reunion.

[Aviso a los lectores: a partir de este párrafo aparecen detalles generales sobre el contenido del episodio, que no se emitirá hasta este jueves]. The special program begins with the cast arriving one by one on set number 24 of Warner Bros., the same one in which it was recorded. Friends between 1994 and 2004, like those popular old college reunions in America. With the old set completely rebuilt, the actors can’t help but share personal memories and anecdotes with the rest of the cast or recover some of the tics of his characters. Being again a pack, they go to meet the presenter James Corden before the famous source that appears in the musical headline, to do a group interview that supports the episode.

The cast of 'Friends' remembering anecdotes in the old set of the series.
The cast of ‘Friends’ remembering anecdotes in the old set of the series.Terence Patrick HBO

In the 100-minute nostalgia overdose, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer and company recreate several of the most remembered sequences and review outtakes, while some of the guest stars who passed through that same film set add their own memories. Other celebrities who never went through there, some of them were not even born when the program began to air, participate in the reunion, blending in with the universe and the infinite winks of the six friends. The creators of the phenomenon also participate in the ceremony, explaining how they wooed six almost unknown actors as if they were great stars, understanding that they were the only ones capable of bringing soul and genuine fun to the twenty-somethings they had imagined on paper, as well as great dose of classic physical comedy.

This look to the past misses the opportunity to make a mention of issues that have adhered in these years to the almost permanent conversation around the series, such as the lack of racial diversity that it showed in its 10 seasons, despite the fact that followers of All backgrounds – including the young Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and the members of the South Korean band BTS – remember in a special moment how important characters who lived locked in a two-dimensional screen were in their lives. Without having planned it, the reunion of Friends appears in new times of uncertainty, at the right time for the viewer to receive a new embrace from their imaginary friends.

Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer (in the background), during one of the games presented by the special program.
Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer (in the background), during one of the games presented by the special program.Terence Patrick HBO

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