After first airing on Sept. 25, 1994, “Friends”celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. To celebrate the iconic show’s milestone, select theaters across the country, including downtown’s Lincoln Grand Cinema, featured four different “Friends”episodes over the span of three days — Sept. 23, Sept. 28 and Oct. 2.
When producers pitched the idea for “Friends,” they initially named the show “Insomnia Cafe.” It went through several other name changes like “Six of One” and “Friends Like Us”before settling simply on “Friends.”
When casting began for “Friends,” Courteney Cox, who played the headstrong Monica Geller, was originally considered for the part of ditzy Rachel Green. However, after reading through the script, Cox felt that she fit the role of Monica better. Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston, who portrayed Green, was originally considered for the role of Monica.
At a reunion in 2016 to honor James Burrows, one of the series’ many directors, the “Friends” cast revealed how their characters achieved great chemistry and a dynamic that made the show successful.
It was revealed that Burrows encouraged the cast to spend time with each other outside of the show and to develop real connections with one another. The actors were given a large dressing room to share and hang out in, even playing a game of poker that eventually became the inspiration behind the episode “The One with All the Poker.”
Before the pilot episode ever aired, the six cast members took a plane to Las Vegas, where Burrows told them the trip would be “their last shot at anonymity.” He said later that he knew the show would be wildly successful and launch the six cast members into superstardom.
For the anniversary showing, fans were able to gather in the theater, laugh together after iconic one-liners and tear up together during emotional scenes. Each of the four episodes shown in theaters over the three days were favorites handpicked by the producers. On Sept. 28, the four episodes that played were “The One with the Prom Video” (season 2, episode 14), “The One Where No One’s Ready” (season 3, episode 2), “The One with the Morning After” (season 3, episode 16) and “The One with the Embryos” (season 4, episode 12).
In “The One with the Prom Video,” Ross and Rachel’s relationship, which had been teased until that point, started to develop with the revelation of an old video showing Ross ready to swoop in and salvage Rachel’s prom night by taking her to the dance. For the episode, Aniston and Cox had to wear a fake nose and a fat suit, respectively, for the scenes in the old video recording.
The premise for “The One Where No One’s Ready” sparked when executive producer Kevin S. Bright was looking for a way to save money by having the entire episode shot on a single set and excluding guest stars. While Bright was looking to save money, he also wanted to see if the six cast members could carry an episode on their own. The success of this episode led to similar episodes in later seasons, such as “The One with Monica’s Thunder” and “The One on Last Night,” that proved the core cast members’ chemistry alone was enough to entertain for an entire episode.
“The One with the Morning After” is the tragic episode where Ross and Rachel split for good. This was a challenging episode to shoot especially for Aniston and David Schwimmer, who plays Ross. Both Aniston and Schwimmer cried after shooting this episode because of the raw emotion required for the scenes. One of the show’s co-creators summed up the episode by stating, “Nearly every adult watching this episode would’ve had some kind of personal memory of a similarly awful split.” This is also the episode that the infamous phrase “we were on a break” was first uttered.
In “The One with the Embryos,” Lisa Kudrow, who plays Phoebe Buffay, was pregnant. In an effort to incorporate Kudrow’s growing bump into her character, writers created a storyline that portrayed Buffay as a surrogate for her brother’s triplets. This storyline was made so that filming wouldn’t be halted during Kudrow’s pregnancy. By the end of “Friends’” lifetime, in the final season, Cox was also pregnant; however, because her character, Monica, was unable to have children, her early pregnancy was covered by baggy shirts.
Watching “Friends” in theaters to celebrate its 25th anniversary was an exciting experience. Being able to see the iconic show on the big screen instead of a television allowed viewers to notice little details that previously went unnoticed, such as props on set and characters’ mannerisms. Even after 25 years since the airing of its pilot episode, “Friends” still remains near and dear to so many hearts. The show will continue its lasting legacy no matter how many years pass by.