Many TV shows and movies are being rebooted, remade, and reimagined to cash in on some of the obsession with nostalgia, while also trying to appeal to a modern audience. In the last few years, shows such as Riverdale, Bel-Air, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the upcoming Clueless show have taken these concepts that were originally envisioned as comedies and turned them into dramas. There has been a lot of discussion over the years about a Friends reboot or continuation series, but with the Friends reunion special, fans seemed satisfied enough to end the Friends nostalgia there. However, is Hollywood ready to let go of this hit ‘90s TV show? I don’t think so.
I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years, or maybe even sooner, we see someone try to reboot Friends. I am definitely over all the reboots, continuations, remakes, etc. and would love to see fresh ideas flourish in Hollywood. However, if you’re going to reboot a ‘90s TV show like Friends, I think the best solution to keep it fresh and engaging is to reimagine it as a drama. Let me explain why before you shout “NO!”
Friends’ Plot About 20-Somethings Living In New York City
Friends begins as a show about six twenty-somethings living life in New York. More recently, it’s been criticized for unrealistic portrayals of life in New York for people that age, especially for those not wealthy or depending on wealthy parents. Friends as a drama could correct this issue. We could see the difficulty these friends face living in New York, including how Monica and Rachel can afford Monica’s apartment for so long on their initial salaries and budget.
The 20s and 30s are a difficult time for many young adults, not just New Yorkers, because it’s still a time of major growth and loss. A Friends drama could show more of the growing pains that Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, and Joey face during that life stage.
Each Character's Individual Backstory And Struggles
I think one of the biggest things that appeals to fans of Friends, now and in the past, was that it's a series that shows human struggles but makes them funny. It makes it almost okay to deal with family troubles, stress about being single, and financial stressors because so are these characters and they’re still laughing about it and enjoying their lives. Many comedies are a way to de-stress from life because it lets your mind escape the drama of everyday life for a while. It’s also a way to look at serious topics with a spoonful of sugar.
However, some of the issues each Friends character faced already had dark or serious tones. Phoebe’s constant familial issues, including her mother’s suicide, Monica’s obsessive behavior, and Chandler being one of the most relatable Friends characters because he’s insecure and very critical of himself, these are just a few of the many examples of some of the Friends' characters more serious issues. Their problems were played for laughs, but could easily become more serious discussions about things such as mental health.
A New Friends Cast Could Be More Diverse
A major issue that has plagued Friends’ legacy is the lack of diversity, especially in a city like New York, which is known for being very diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and so on. Let’s face it, Friends in its original form is very white and heteronormative. A dramatic Friends reimagining could easily fix this problem by reimagining some of the characters with more diverse backgrounds.
In Jay-z’s “Moonlight” video, we see six prominent black actors and actresses taking on different Friends characters. This was a cool concept that brought attention to the fact that Friends, in its current state, is not made about the black experience, so I don’t mean just slapping black or brown faces on characters who were clearly originally written as white characters. These characters’ backgrounds and struggles would need a complete makeover to actually reflect an authentic experience for a Black American, Korean American, Native American, Muslim American, Mexican American, or someone from one of the many different racial, ethnic, or religious groups living in America.
I also don’t think it should stop with ethnic diverse versions of these classic Friends characters. Why can’t a modern version of one or multiple characters be members of the LGBTQ+ community? Or why can’t Susan and Carol be less of a joke against Ross, and characters with their own issues and struggles?
And, let’s not just stop with diversity in front of the camera. A dramatic Friends reimagining should have diversity behind the scenes as well, especially in the writers’ room.
Modern Issues Could Be Addressed In This Version
With the more diverse cast, some of the more important modern issues could be addressed in this Friends. Also, things like social media could play more of a role, like maybe Phoebe becoming a viral TikTok star from “Smelly Cat” or Monica has a YouTube cooking channel. The show could address things like the student loan crisis and living wage battles. There are so many modern topics and issues that would fit right into the Friends landscape.
Many Of The Original Friends Cast Could Make Cameos
Jennifer Aniston and many of the other Friends actors have transitioned their careers from doing mainly comedies to a blend of both comic and dramatic roles. This means it wouldn’t be too difficult for them to have cameos as more serious characters. The cast members are also still friends, so it shouldn't be awkward if they reunite on screen. David Schwimmer has also sat in the director’s chair quite a bit, so there are also other ways the former Friends actors can be involved in the reimagining, if not on-screen.
The show can have Friends actors do a cameo to capitalize on the nostalgia of it all, while still letting the show evolve beyond the original or just be a carbon copy with drama instead of comedy.
The New Show Could Still Be Funny
I’ve always been a firm believer that the best dramas are also really funny at times, and the best comedies know how to add drama without losing the tone of the series. There are some shows that are darker dramas, such as Breaking Bad, The Wire, and The Sopranos, and then there are technical dramas that have a lighter tone, such as Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, and Bridgerton. A drama doesn’t necessarily have to be completely melodramatic, violent, sad, or dark. There are different levels, so a Friends reimagining doesn’t have to completely become dark and gritty without any fun or comedy. It can be a drama that still knows how to make you laugh when necessary.
I’m always on team “stop doing remakes, let original stuff be born!” But, if they ever do a Friends reboot, I want a complete reimagining of the ‘90s TV show. Let it keep some of its original DNA, but have something unique and different emerge from it. Now that you’ve finished screaming “NO!,” you can always just enjoy Friends reruns from now until eternity on HBO Max.
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Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.