Since it doesn’t get much more '90s than Friends and pining for 20th century nostalgia, the Internet reacted with about as much fervour as you’d expect when NBC’s official account tweeted four simple words that people have been waiting over a decade for: “New announcement - #FriendsReunion!” That’s a huge deal, given what a massive phenomenon the sitcom was all over the world. But as web trends usually go, things aren’t exactly what they seem.
Per NBC's announcement at the Television Critics Association, the ‘reunion’ comes in the form of a two-hour special dedicated to legendary sitcom director James Burrows, who recently directed his 1000th episode of television. The event will feature sketches and cameo appearances by several of Burrows’ collaborators, including the casts of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Will & Grace and The Big Bang Theory, for better or for worse, but the big news everybody seems to have latched on to is the possibility of seeing Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe and Joey on screen together again, or at least the actors who played them.
Burrows directed fifteen of the show’s pivotal episodes between 1994 and 1998, including ‘The One Where Ross and Rachel Take A Break’, which is the one where Ross and Rachel took a break, thus introducing the phrase ‘taking a break’ to many of us, and while NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt seems confident that the show’s six leads will appear, he can’t quite guarantee it’ll be all together.
"We'd like to get all six of them in room at the same time, but I'm not sure we can logistically pull it off."
So while this reunion isn’t so much a reunion as it is a series of cameos, it’s likely the closest we’ll ever get to seeing the show come back for one more episode. Personally, I’m fine with the way things ended. While I’m not invested in Twin Peaks, The X-Files or Full House enough to have strong feelings on their respective returns, the shift of the nostalgia market from the '80s to the '90s this past year has yielded some interesting results, like us millennials finally getting to claw at the remnants of our childhood as Gen Xers did, while they now decry our unwillingness to grow up as we enter adulthood. They’re not necessarily wrong, but considering the kind of cultural impact Friends had when it was on air, from American fashion trends, to the identity of Indian youth culture, to “so” supplanting the “totally” as the chief adverb in the general colloquial lexicon, widespread excitement at the idea of a reunion is far from surprising.
NBC’s James Burrows tribute will air on February 21st, and while it may not be the Friends reunion people were hoping for, it’s probably the next best thing.