Why 'Friends' creators say a reboot would 'mess with the show's DNA' originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
"Friends" turns 25 this weekend and the show is still more relevant than ever.
During the show's 10-year run, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer kept fans hooked through their portrayal of Ross Geller and Rachel Green's complicated relationship. Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry mapped out the evolution of an unexpected union with their characters, Monica Geller and Chandler Bing.
Lisa Kudrow won over audiences with her loony antics as the zany -- and utterly loveable -- Phoebe Buffay, and Matt LeBlanc was everyone's favorite soap star, Joey Tribbiani.
The creators of the iconic television show, David Crane and Marta Kauffman, spoke with "Good Morning America" about how these adored characters came about -- and why the show still garners such a cult following 25 years later.
"I think the reason it's remained popular -- which is amazing that we're even having this conversation 25 years after we started -- is that it just it speaks to some universal themes," Crane shared.
"We all want those six friends, we all want a community that loves us and supports us, especially when you're just starting out in life," he continued. "You're on your own and you're just out of school -- I think everyone creates that. There's a sort of universal appeal that still works, even though it's not 1994 anymore."
"I also think that it is, to a certain extent, like comfort food," Kauffman added. "It feels good to watch."
The idea that started 'Friends'
Kauffman said the concept for the beloved series came from her own experiences with Crane and their friends.
"We were -- before our move to L.A. -- part of a group of six people who lived in New York," she explained. "You know, pre-family, and it was the way for us to look back and re-experience that for ourselves."
"We had just finished a show, called 'Dream On,' that had had a single actor, who was the star. He was in every scene, and it was not easy on him," she added. "So we decided our next show was going to be an ensemble."
While it's now evident that the show attracts fans from all age demographics, the network was hesitant about the audience the show would appeal to at first, the two said.
"Obviously because it was about young people, the thought from the network -- their concern was that it would appeal only to young people," Kauffman shared. "They even for a period of time tried to convince us to bring in an older character in the coffee house, which we tried -- and it was just abominable -- and realized that the show worked without that because the appeal was larger than the limited audience they thought they would get."
"As we said to the network at the time, these are universal themes," Crane added. "You don't have to be 23 to care about what these characters care about."
He said that "Friends" was also fortunate to have an "amazing" writers' room that really enhanced the show and "worked really hard to make sure it was always super funny."
"I mean Marta and I, we're all about sort of the feelings and what it's about and all that -- and not that we're not funny, but boy did we have a really funny group of writers," he added.
'There was some magic involved that we landed with these incredible actors'
Crane and Kauffman said that they weren't looking for major stars during the casting process.
"We were looking for an ensemble, so it was important to us that we not have one huge name and five people who no one had ever heard of," she explained.
They said that they really can't imagine any other actors taking on the roles of the six friends.
"When we were casting we really had that feeling," Crane began. "It wasn't like, 'Oh, we could go this way or that way.' Honestly these were the six people who absolutely nailed these parts."
"In some cases, we were afraid, until that particular actor walked in, that we would never find our Chandler or our Phoebe -- because it's not like life was giving us all kinds of options," he added. "These were absolutely the people to embody these parts."
"Which is why I very often feel that there was some magic involved that we landed with these incredible actors," Crane added.
"It would not be the same show with any other choices," Crane said. "It would change the whole thing."
The meaning behind Ross and Rachel's everlasting love ... and were they on a break?
Ross and Rachel's relationship is a center point of the series. They navigate breakups and tearful reunions -- and, spoiler alert, end up together.
Kauffman said there's many reasons why fans were so hooked on their relationship and the drama that was attached to it.
"This is a relationship that started developing before the pilot," she said. "I mean Ross had a crush on her when they were in high school, and I think we can identify with that. I also think they were so good at it."
"Their chemistry was amazing, and you just felt for them both. I think that's why it worked," she added. "I have to admit when we got them together it was a little less fun to write because there wasn't conflict between them, and the conflict -- the stuff that kept them apart -- is what was juicy. So we pulled them apart for a little while again."
"It's the actors' chemistry, and from the beginning -- you're just rooting for these two people," he added. "I mean the act break of the pilot is the two of them just looking out the window at the rain, and from that point on I think we're pulling for them."
So what's their take on one of the biggest debates of the series: Were Ross and Rachel on a break or not?
"I don't know -- I seem to remember the writers' room being very divided about this," Crane shared with a laugh.
"You know, I guess on a technicality they were, but I would probably say not cool for Ross, but on the other hand we understood," he continued. "That's what we loved about the show -- nothing was cut and dry,"
Crane shared that a lot of the brilliance of the show stemmed from this factor.
"You could take two sides to any argument. I mean so often we would pick a particular story line because the room couldn't agree on the answer. We thought, well, if the writers' room can't agree, yeah, you know the characters won't be able to, and that's a story," he shared.
Another storyline that was considered controversial by the "Friends" fan base? When Joey and Rachel got together at the end of season 9 -- something Crane stands by.
"I still love that decision and will defend it because it was absolutely wrong -- and that's what made it exciting," he said. "You got to see Joey go through something really emotional, and we hadn't really given him that enough over the years."
"I think there is something to be said with characters making mistakes and realizing those mistakes," he added. "And I think it led to some really good stories."
How Chandler and Monica's relationship came about
Kauffman revealed that the plan wasn't always for Chandler and Monica to end up together.
"We thought when we did the first episode with them in bed in London it would be a really fun storyline about the awkwardness that happens after friends get together," she said.
"The audience reaction was so enormous, so we kind of had to look at each other and go, 'Wow maybe there's something here.' And again, their chemistry was so good," she added.
"The other thing was when we came back to start the next season, people just kept pitching so many stories that would come off of the idea of them being an ongoing couple that we realized this is a great motor," Crane said.
"We were always desperate to come up with stories, and if you could find a whole bunch of stories that you could get invested in, you can't let that go," he added.
However, the two did see some success in putting Monica and Richard together during the series.
"There was so much chemistry between, like, Courteney and Tom Selleck," Crane said. "You don't know until you get on a stage if that's going to be the case -- you actually see them together, and then you do and you go, 'Oh my God, we have to keep going with this. It's wonderful.'"
So what would the 'Friends' characters be up to now?
Since the show's series finale, "The Last One," aired in 2004, fans have imagined what their favorite characters would be doing now.
The creators have too -- to an extent.
"I think Joey has six kids, and, you had said David, you had a thought about Emma," Kauffman said, referencing Ross and Rachel's daughter on the show.
"I have no idea what the characters are doing. I just assumed Emma was in therapy because she spent a lot of time in her formative years without quite a lot of parental involvement," Crane shared.
"It's tough because we've been asked before, like where are the characters now, and I think that sort of speaks to one of the reasons we're not doing a reboot," he added. "We don't have to answer that question. We don't have to know where they are now."
The two are adamant that the show will never be rebooted.
"'Friends' was a show about that time in your life when your friends were your family. And once you start to have a family of your own, the heart of the show no longer exists because you've gone to a new phase in your life," Kauffman said. "Our show inherently doesn't want to go past that."
"And also I feel like we did the show we wanted to do," Crane added. "There doesn't seem to be a strong compelling reason to try to mess with the show's DNA because it would not be the same show -- even if it had the same characters and the same actors, who are brilliant -- it's not the same show."
What if they'd filmed 'Friends' in 2019...
"Certainly, there is a new lens from 2019, and it's very hard to imagine what the show would be like now," Kauffman shared. "There are certainly things that if I knew then what I know now, I would have done differently."
"I think it's true of any show -- that you would look at it through a contemporary lens," Crane added. "You're going to look at things differently, and I think that's inevitable."
When asked if they would've explored any particular elements of the show differently -- or more at length -- he pointed out that "it's like you're on a moving train," while creating the show.
"You're doing 22, 23, 24 episodes a season and at a certain point -- we call it sort of 'pencils down writing' -- I mean, you're constantly going, 'Wow could there have been a better joke there? Could that story have been a little better?' Probably. But you don't have that luxury," he explained.
"You are always throwing tracks in front of a moving train, and so that's just the nature of doing television and especially multi-camera television," he added.
The two say the episodes they love the most from the series are the ones that really focus on the six of them.
Kauffman's favorites? Season four's "The One with the Embryos" and season five's "The One Where Everybody Finds Out." Crane agreed and added, "I mean that's why I love all of our Thanksgiving shows because those tended to be just our group sitting around a table, or playing football. And, yeah, weddings and babies."
Reflecting on creating the 'Friends' legacy
The creators still admit that they didn't have any idea what would become of this incredible story of friendship.
"When we were shooting the pilot we knew we had something special. We didn't know if it would work -- if the world would embrace it," Crane said.
"But I think the first time we heard the cast all together reading through the show we just, Marta and I looked at each other like, 'Oh my God this is actually really good.' Because up to that point it had just been another pilot for us," he continued. "So I think on that level we knew, but it really wasn't until later that we had some sense of where all this was going in our lives."
Kauffman said one ritual the two shared is still one of her favorite memories from the show.
"At the end of every night that we shot a show, David and I would say to each other, 'Another one that didn't suck,'" she shared.
"Which is where our bar was," Crane added. "All we wanted was 'Dear God ... just don't let it suck.' Unfortunately, I can't remember if there was ever a time we looked and went 'that kind of sucked.'"
Neither can we.