The One 'Friends' Storyline That Sparked a Cast Revolt

Friends creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane were involved in the HBO Max reunion special released on Thursday, but they still have more stories to tell. In a follow-up interview published Thursday, Kauffman, Crane, and executive producer Kevin Bright shared more behind-the-scenes details, including which storyline the cast couldn't take. Bright said they were not happy with the idea of Joey dating Rachel, a storyline that started late in Season 9 and continued into early Season 10.

The cast "revolted" when they saw the first script involving Joey and Rachel getting together, Bright told The Hollywood Reporter. Kauffman and Crane explained to them that this was not going to "end in a place that would compromise Joey as a character for stealing his buddy's girlfriend." The negative cast reaction to the idea almost led to the plot being scrapped, but Bright was happy it wasn't. "We would have lost what was a very good season for that. I'm glad [Kauffman and Crane] won that one," Bright said.

Kauffman and Crane recalled other creative fights they faced during Friends' original run. After shooting the pilot, NBC told them they should add an older character, like a man who owns the coffee shop. They rejected that idea. "Ultimately, thank God, they let us do what we felt we could do, which is to make these characters identifiable enough that you don't only have to be 20 to want to watch the show," Kauffman said.

There were also arguments with NBC's Standards and Practices. They got easier as the show became a bigger hit for the network, but one Crane pointed to was an executive who didn't like Monica sleeping with a guy on the first date. "We pushed hard for that story because we thought it makes her vulnerable," Crane recalled. "Ultimately, he convinced himself that it was OK because, and these are his words, when the guy disappears, 'Monica gets what she deserves.' You could see the steam coming out of Marta's nose and she got up and walked away." NBC also handed out a questionnaire to audience members during a dress rehearsal, asking how they saw Monica. Most of them said they were "fine" with her behavior, so "that helped, too," Crane said.

Friends is now available to stream exclusively on HBO Max, alongside the reunion special, titled Friends: The Reunion. The reunion featured all six members of the main cast, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow. Several guest stars took part, including James Corden, Cindy Crawford, Justin Bieber, Kit Harington, Lady Gaga, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Selleck, and Mindy Kaling.

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The reunion was the first time many fans had seen Perry in recent years, as the actor's health has been at the center of constant speculation. Bright said Perry seemed "OK" when they met. "He seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward," Bright told THR.