'Friends' EPs Look Back on Putting the Couples Together — And Where They'd Be Now
It's been a quarter century since Friends premiered, but it's still phenomenally popular, thanks largely to reruns and streaming.
Last weekend, the Tribeca TV Festival honored the NBC comedy ahead of the 25th anniversary of the pilot on September 22. While there, TV Insider was able to chat with executive producers David Crane, Marta Kauffman, and Kevin Bright about the series' legacy.
The EPs love that people are still discovering the show and its characters today. "That's the best news ever," Crane says. "More than anything, that gives me so much satisfaction, so much pleasure." He especially enjoys the fact that kids are "overlooking the fact that the cell phones are two-feet high."
Kauffman agrees. "It's so overwhelming and so thrilling and flattering that we're here and doing this now. And that it's not just trying to remind people what the show is, but people are actually still watching it," she says.
"Sitcoms have pretty traditionally taken a path of going into obscurity after a little bit of time on syndication, and this has just been the greatest thing in the world for the show. We just hope it keeps going," Bright adds.
Speaking of things that keep going, fans don't have to worry about the statuses of their favorite couples (Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, and Phoebe and Mike). "My hope is that the characters are all still together," Crane says.
There's something about each relationship that appeals to fans. Viewers were rooting for Ross and Rachel to get together since the pilot. "We were so happy that we could finally get them together after everything we put them through," Crane says.
It's a well-documented fact that Monica and Chandler were not originally supposed to be together — or to last. "We thought [it] was going to be a one-night stand," Crane continues.
"We didn't know where it was going when we started it," Kauffman adds. "The fans are the ones who reacted so strongly to that relationship and the chemistry was so good between them that we just had to let the show tell us what to do next."
Kauffman calls Mike and Phoebe "delightful" as individuals and together, noting, "Who wouldn't want that [kind of relationship]?" It also had to do with the actors, according to Crane. "How do you not fall in love with Paul and how do you not fall in love with Lisa?" he gushes. "They had a great, quirky, askew dynamic, and it was really great to see Phoebe in a romantic relationship."
The producers "cared about the emotional underpinnings of the show" just as much as fans, Crane says. In fact, Bright credited those relationships with why Friends is still popular.
"Relationships have essentially not changed, especially the difficult parts of relationships," he explains. "Even the relationships between the guys on our show are real. They cheat on each other with their other girlfriends and things like that. They're real situations. Things happen like that. But the friendship is what prevails."
And so has Friends.
Friends, Seasons 1-10, Streaming, Netflix