Friends debuted when Saul Austerlitz was a teenager, and, like so many of his generation, he loved the show about six (white) twentysomethings navigating love, life and careers in New York City. When Austerlitz wrote , a book tracing the genealogy of the genre, he naturally devoted a chapter to Friends.
After the book was published, in 2014, Austerlitz realized the seminal NBC sitcom still had a lot of information to mine.
“There was a new generation of fans who hadn’t even been born when the show premiered,” Austerlitz says. “I was interested in not only telling the story of the show for those fans but also telling the story of those fans.” And so the book Generation Friends, released earlier this fall to coincide with the 25 th anniversary of the program, was born.
Austerlitz spoke with fans, creators, cast members and actors on the show (though not the Big Six) to put together a thorough account of Friends’ 10-year run. He examines its legacy, including what many see as problematic attitudes toward LGBTQ people (while noting that one of the creators, David Crane, is gay) and an almost painful lack of diversity in casting.
The result is an engaging read with lots to appeal to Friends fans.
“I wanted to understand a bit better why, of all the shows of the ’90s-and there were many popular shows-most ended up fading away, but this not only still has a fan base of people who enjoyed the show when it was first on but also still continues to attract new fans decades afterward.”
Here are 25 interesting revelations from the book.
1. Writers didn’t italicize any words in Matthew Perry’s lines, because the actor picked his own words to emphasize-it became a thing for Chandler (“could you want her more?”).
2. Then-NBC President Warren Littlefield made omelets for the Friends team (even clad in an apron) the morning after the first-year show was picked up for a full season.
3. The creator of the Rachel hairstyle was high when he created the look.
4. The monkey who played Marcel escaped once.
5. An internal NBC memo called the pilot “not very entertaining, clever or original.
6. Then-NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer objected to Monica sleeping with a man on their first date in the pilot.
7. ” The One With the Ball,” where the characters pass around a ball without letting it drop for hours, was inspired by a similar game in the Friends writers’ room.
8. A plotline in which Chandler sneaks into a gay bar was killed after Perry nixed it (probably for the best, as you can just imagine how well that one would have aged).
9. The Oxford English Dictionary cites Friends as one of the originators of the term “going commando” (“The One Where No One’s Ready”).
10. Co-creator Marta Kauffman objected to the apartment swap in “The One With All the Embryos.”
11. The cast pranked guest star Tate Donovan, then dating Jennifer Aniston, by giving him a tiny dressing room that was swelteringly hot.
12. The prop department made six versions of Phoebe’s dollhouse (“The One With the Dollhouse), which eventually burned down.
13. The creative team decided not to pursue Owen Wilson for a guest starring role after reading an article in which he admitted to being hard on writers.
14. Jon Favreau, who played Monica’s boyfriend in season three, auditioned for Chandler when the pilot was shooting.
15. When Charlie Sheen shot his guest role for season two, his brother, Emilio Estevez, had to come backstage and calm Sheen’s nerves after he started shaking during his first scene.
16. Monica and Chandler’s relationship was initially conceived as a temporary plot twist.
17. The writers considered, but later discarded, a plotline of Chandler moving to Minnesota in season five and his friends following him there.
18. There were periodic discussions of firing Perry as his addictions to alcohol and drugs became more serious, ultimately leading to several rehab stints.
19. The FDNY T-shirt Joey wears in “The One Where Chandler Takes a Bath” was one of many given to the cast and crew by the New York firefighters flown in by producers to watch the show film as a “thank you” after 9/11.
20. A former writers’ assistant on the show who sued for hostile workplace was invited to a party by a writer on Friends after her firing. Two former writers approached the woman at the party and wished her the best.
21. NBC yanked all references to Friends from the 2000 upfront presentation to advertisers for fear the show wouldn’t return amid testy contract negotiations with the cast.
22. Donald Trump appeared on the Tonight Show episode that aired after the series finale, joking that he almost guest-starred on the show.
23. Sheryl Crow performed at the Friends wrap party, which featured a vodka-dispensing ice chute.
24. Noah Wyle ( ER) read for the role of Ross.
25. Producers initially imagined Friends’ main romance between Monica and Joey, not Ross and Rachel.