By Deep Guha
So. Here we are. After years of rumors, the cast and crew shooting down those rumors, morphed posters, fan-made trailers, and a failed spin-off show, the Reunion has happened. But it is nothing more than a vain celebration of the show and is totally built upon nostalgia and nothing more.
See, the problem isn’t with trying to sell nostalgia. It’s been done before by many other properties, and some of them have done it very well, case in point: Cobra Kai. But the Reunion special looks like a Frankenstein’s monster put together just to further the brand value and catalog strength for HBO Max and cash in on the show's bankability.
The Reunion plays with multiple formats such as table reads, interviews, bloopers, re-enactments, and a mini-fashion show. It opens with the six main casts returning to Warner Bros. Studios' “The Friends Stage”, which is where the show was shot at since its second season. And then cuts to the interview, and eventually cross-crosses with multiple segments. It is mostly unscripted in nature and hosted by renowned TV personality James Corden who’s task at hand is, as you guessed it, interviewing the cast and crew.
FRIENDS was successful because it was something new, at least when it started airing. Also, the show has been a continuous source of laughs, comfort, and memorable catchphrases that have entered the modern lexicon across countries. There’s a specific segment in the special that captures the genuine impact the show had on its viewers worldwide. The lasting influence of FRIENDS on future sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, etc, is evidence of this fact. I mean, FRIENDS is one of the most iconic and cashable IP’s out there. Marta Kauffman(the co-creator and an exec. producer of the show) comparing the cast with The Beatles pretty much sums up the amount of stardom the show and the cast achieved. Just hear the statistics that Corden reads out at the beginning of the show.
But the Reunion lacks what it's predecessor had, a soul. Furthermore, it doesn’t have a point to exist other than bringing the cast together and enticing a further generation to the show’s allure(which would’ve happened anyway). The spirit of the show just isn’t there. It just looks like a glorified and fantastically produced interview. But with questions that have been asked a thousand times and have been answered a thousand times.
Besides the cast and crew of the sitcom, the Reunion special calls upon numerous celebrities and public figures such as David Beckham, BTS(the boy band), Malala Yousafzai, Lady Gaga, and many more who proclaim their love for the show and as said earlier, a mini-fashion show also consisting of significant names. Segments that I found as unnecessary and an act of vanity. I mean, why would you try to advertise a seminal sitcom through celebrity endorsement? IT'S ALREADY FAMOUS!!!
But the FRIENDS Reunion special has a handful of moments where it has a genuine rhythm and feels to it. Segments that showcase how personal the show became to the cast and crew. How it changed their life. It gives us never before seen behind the scene segments which are as funny as the show was. Also, the cameo appearances from recurring casts really are a sweet addition. Which ironically highlights that these things are good but in little doses. Not a full-blown out two-hour special.
So in the end, if you’re a casual fan of the sitcom, there’s nothing here that can add more to the FRIENDS universe, so to speak. But if you’re a FRIEND fanatic, you just might like it. At least some of it.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S : The Reunion is streaming on Zee5