With movie screens and television sets around the world saturated with one reboot after another, the question is not if but when beloved—and financially proven—titles will be run through the Hollywood revival machine. According to a report published yesterday by The Hollywood Reporter, the powers that be at HBO Max are working to bring a Friends reunion to the upcoming streaming service, and they’ve engaged all six stars and both creators of the show on the project.
That’s huge news, as the show remains wildly popular 25 years after its premiere. But a close reading of the story points to several reasons fans shouldn’t get their hopes up just yet.
For one, there’s no guarantee that anything is actually going to happen. “Talks are currently underway” and the project is “in the works” according to the article and headline, respectively. That’s Hollywoodese for “it’s fairly likely this won’t actually happen.”
But the biggest reason not to get too pumped for a potential reunion special is a single word: unscripted.
What fans want aren’t updates from Courtney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, and company. They want to see what’s happening with Monica, Joey, and the there-for-you gang. So while an unscripted special might be nice, it’s far from the ideal: new episodes with the same characters that hew to the half-hour, multicamera sitcom conventions employed with great success by the show. It’s also really unclear if by “unscripted” this means the Friends gang would pull a Larry David, and turn their very formulaic, and tightly controlled show into something unwieldy and organic like Curb Your Enthusiasm; which, is by any stretch of the imagination, the most successful unscripted sitcom to date. If Friends become a new Curb that’s interesting, but any sane person would question the ability of this cast to pull it off. I mean, you wouldn’t be excited about an unscripted Saved By the Bell, right?
And while Jennifer Anniston has expressed interest in new scripted episodes in the past, creator Marta Kauffman is firmly against the idea.
“All we’d be doing is putting those six actors back together, but the heart of the show would be gone. Two, I don’t know what good it does us. The show is doing just fine, people love it. [A reunion] could only disappoint. “The One Where Everyone’s Disappointed,” she told Rolling Stone in September.
It’s also interesting that this news came out on Disney+ launch day as a way to somewhat blunt the momentum of what will be one of HBO Max’s largest competitors. But even if the timing was a coincidence, there’s enough in the story to make up doubt the kind of Friends reboot its fans really want is anywhere near reality.