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The Friends “Reunion” Is Not a Friends Reunion

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Dozens of articles were posted yesterday stating that the Friends cast would be holding a reunion in February on NBC. The “reunion” is a celebration of acclaimed TV director James Burrows, who directed the Friends pilot as well as several other episodes of the show. The casts of many other shows will also appear to fete Burrows, who has 1,000 episodes of TV on his resume. So, this is totally not a reunion. It’s a two-hour career retrospective where many actors, producers and writers will share their thoughts on Burrows. Which is cool!

NBC is promoting the event by calling it this year’s version of Saturday Night Live 40 – which is okay I guess? But the comparison is a little mushy, since unlike SNL, most viewers don’t know who Burrows is and they will be encouraged to tune in to see…. a Friends reunion?

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The media sites that ran with the “Friends reunion” angle also reported (without reading) this comment from NBC’s Robert Greenblatt.

“I’m hoping all six will be in same room at same time; I’m not sure we can logistically pull it off.”

In other words, perhaps some of the six Friends will comment by video rather than being in the same room together. Even if they are in the same room, it’s sort of gauche for NBC and the media to promote this as a Friends reunion. The purpose of the event is to discuss Burrows’ contributions to TV. It’s not going to be a two-hour Friends event, nor will the cast be discussing their show in any way that is unrelated to Burrows. Reporting like this makes me understand why the cast is so reluctant to reunite. Everyone loves nostalgia, but the show was of an era and is thankfully now streaming so others can enjoy it for the first time.

NBC would no doubt desperately love to reunite the Friends cast for real. Maybe the network should consider producing a few specials where the cast of its best shows discuss what made the shows great. It would be like Inside the Actors Studio only without James Lipton. When you have some struggling comedies in drama, perhaps drawing attention to faded glory days is a bad move. But I think reuniting the casts of shows like The West Wing, ER, Friends, Will and Grace and Seinfeld would be ratings gold.

What do you think?

Alex is a lawyer and opinionated.

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