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Series of the Week: Friends

“We were on a break!”
Friends was created in 1994 by David Crane and Marta Kauffman as a followup to their cable series Dream On. Friends was aimed at young adults who, during the early 1990s, were identified by their café culture, dating scene and modern independence.
Originally to be named Across the Hall, Six of One, Insomnia Cafe, or Friends Like Us, Friends was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television, for NBC in the U.S., and was first broadcast on that network. The show was a huge success throughout its ten year run and was a staple of the NBC Thursday night line-up. The finale was one of the most-watched series finales in television history, behind only M*A*S*H, Cheers, and Seinfeld.
Two of the series' stars, Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston, had already appeared in several unsuccessful sitcom pilots. Another, Lisa Kudrow, was also familiar with working on sitcoms, having played Ursula Buffay on Mad About You. Courteney Cox was already an accomplished TV and film actress when she was cast in 'Friends', having appeared in the likes of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and with several minor roles on sitcoms such as Seinfeld and Family Ties. The character of Ross was written with David Schwimmer in mind; having auditioned for Crane and Kauffman in the past, Schwimmer was said to have a memorable voice and was most known for his Broadway work. Matt LeBlanc appeared as Vinnie Verducci in Married... with Children in the early 1990s and starred in that sitcom's short-lived spin-off, Top of the Heap, as well as in the unrelated Vinnie & Bobby, but before that had mainly been focusing on advertising and modeling work when he was cast as Joey Tribbiani.
During the show's run, the cast all achieved household name celebrity status, and all pursued careers in the movies, with varied success. Aniston's movie career is predominantly populated with light rom-coms. Cox made several lightweight films, though achieved her greatest success with the Scream series. Kudrow fared best in low budget indie films - a far cry from the role of Phoebe, most notably The Opposite of Sex. The male cast fared less well in the movie world.
During the 1994-2004 run, four of the cast married. Kudrow was first to marry in 1995 to advertising executive Michel Stern. Cox married next in 1999, wedding Scream co-star David Arquette. Aniston married film star Brad Pitt in 2000 and Le Blanc married long-term girlfriend Melissa McKnight in 2003.
Behind the scenes, the show was known for its unusually cohesive and unified cast. The six main actors made deliberate efforts, from early on, to keep the show's ensemble format and not allow one member to dominate. This included requesting that all actors on the show be nominated either for the same category of award ("Supporting Actor" until 2001, then "Lead Actor" from 2002 onwards) or not at all, and entering collective instead of individual salary negotiations. The actors became such close friends that one guest star, Tom Selleck, reported sometimes feeling left out. The cast remained good friends after the show's run, most notably Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, with Aniston being godmother to Courtney's daughter, Coco.
It is smart, snappy, colourful and brimming with funny lines and excellent plots. Friends really shines with it's amazing cast. Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer are the friends you wish were your own. You can empathise with all of them in some way, and still laugh with them every week. It really is fantastic.
It also scores with it's realistic progression over the last six years. Season One and Season Ten are totally different, and show how much the characters have grown.
In short, Friends is the show of shows. A sitcom where no episode is a disappointment. How many sitcom's can say that? 10/10


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