The Friends reunion special was meant to be an unscripted conversation between the main cast of the legendary series, set on the show's original soundstage in Burbank, to be available to subscribers at the launch of HBO Max back in May. Then the global lockdown happened, and filming was canceled. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, David Schwimmer, who played Ross on the show, revealed he would love to do the reunion as soon as circumstances would allow it:
"It's supposed to happen maybe in August - the middle of August. But honestly, we're gonna wait and see another week or two if we all determine it's really safe enough to do. And if not, then we'll wait until it's safe."
Friends was a cultural juggernaut of its time unlike any other, effortlessly crossing cultural barriers the world over, and inspiring millions of fans to endlessly debate the most crucial question posed by the series: Were Ross and Rachel officially broken up at the time when Ross slept with the girl from the xerox copy place, with the incident thus technically not counting as cheating? Fortunately, Schwimmer was ready to lend his expert, if biased opinion on the matter:
"It's not even a question. They were on a break."
Friends remains the thing the actor gets asked about the most, despite having crafted a varied and critically-lauded path for himself since the show ended, with Emmy wins and producer and director credits on a number of hit projects.
That adds even more irony to the fact that David Schwimmer initially turned down the role of Ross, as he revealed during the interview. The actor had already been on a sitcom before, which he described as being in a 'prison'. The last thing he wanted to do was become the lead on another sitcom and flatly refused to consider joining Friends.
It was only after talking to the show's creators, who explained that they had written the character of Ross with him in mind, that Schwimmer agreed to read the script and meet the rest of the cast. Impressed by the level of talent attached to the project, Schwimmer agreed to become one of the main leads, and the rest is sitcom history.
The Friends craze that began with the airing of the first season never really dissipated, and chances are one episode or another of the series is being played on some channel any given day. The lead cast of the show has been the face of the pop culture phenomenon from day 1, which is why HBO Max wanted to kick off their streaming service by bringing together the actors for the reunion special.
There have been rumors that the company is exploring the option of a virtual reunion if the threat of infection nixes the possibility of a live get-together any time soon. It won't be the same as seeing the gang hanging out together once again at Central Perk, but fans of the show will take what they can get.