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Ahead of HBO Max's launch this year, one of the streaming service's most talked-about advantages was being the sole online hub for all ten seasons of Friends, which had quite the headline-making exit from Netflix. Beyond the joy of watching old Friends episodes, though, was the confirmation that the sitcom's six stars would come together once more for an exclusive reunion special. It hasn't yet been filmed, however, since the pandemic lockdown made the producers' original plans impossible to enact. Fans are hopeful it'll happen soon, but a new update from David Schwimmer doesn't sound too optimistic.
While tons of TV and film casts have staged impromptu reunions over the past few months, from Parks and Rec to The Goonies, each of those get-togethers was held remotely, with cast and crews conversing via Zoom or other video chat apps. The Friends team doesn't want to settle for that approach, however, and that's part of why planning the lucrative reunion has been so difficult. Here's how David Schwimmer put it to Entertainment Tonight:
I can tell you that we are hoping to shoot [the reunion] in August, in mid-August, but honestly, we will do it when it’s safe. There has always been a hope that a component of that reunion show will have a live audience, which makes the whole thing really tricky. We are obviously not going to risk anyone’s health by doing this.
Considering the entirety of Friends' ten-season stretch was filmed in front of a studio audience, it only makes sense that all involved would want the reunion special to be filmed in the same way, in order to give it the same energy that the episodes had. I can already hear Matthew Perry saying it now: "Could this audience BE any more live studio?"
Of course, while it would be optimal for the Friends reunion special to have as many fans and stars around as possible – dare we hold out hope for guest stars? – it's currently all but impossible to put together, given the necessary restrictions against having such large gatherings indoors. There are potentially ways to work around such guidelines, such as setting the reunion outdoors, or perhaps even filming in a large arena, with audience members being separated accordingly. Granted, that would probably produce quite a different (and possibly spooky) vibe when compared to the ideal "studio audience" scenario, but still.
The most important factor here, as David Schwimmer implies, is that the reunion is produced in a way that doesn't risk anyone's health or well-being. All the precautions in the world can be put into place, but all it takes is one tiny mistake for infections to spread and for Hollywood to keep the lockdown in place for even longer. I suppose the Friends special could technically take place in another country where things are safer and filming is allowed, but I'm sure that would lead to many expensive complications all on its own.
For now, Friends fans will have to just sit and wait patiently for the U.S. to return to safer conditions, while also possibly lite-stalking each of the stars on social media to see what everyone is up to. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates ,though.
Fans can currently stream all ten seasons of Friends right now on HBO Max (though don't expect to find the spinoff Joey on there at the moment). For those looking for more new and returning shows that haven't been postponed (yet), check out our Summer 2020 TV schedule and our Fall TV premiere guide.