The dreaded Friends curse. Although it was one of the most popular shows of all time, winning countless awards and having each friend pocket $1 million per episode at the height of the show, their success was short lived. The curse is real.
While Jennifer Aniston might be the most well-known star to have come out of Friends, her career has largely been a flop, shadowed by box-office failures as well as critically panned ones. Several of the cast members went on to star in their own television shows after Friends, all of which ended up being cancelled after only a season or two. Some fared even worse with the critics. No one seemed to want to watch Matthew Perry or Matt LeBlanc after their Manhattan apartment dissipated: they all wanted Chandler and Joey back.
With Friends coming back for another season (just kidding!), we thought it was time to talk about how easy it was to go from one of the biggest television series in the world to becoming basically irrelevant. Let’s explore these 15 major failures that prove how much the members of the Friends cast are cursed.
15. The Comeback – Kudrow’s TV Follow Up
HBO’s The Comeback is about a former 90s D-list celebrity trying to revive her acting career by documenting it for reality television – the show is a delightful satire on the television industry and the show was even nominated for three Primetime Emmys. The second season reached critical acclaim. The show was also co-created by Lisa Kudrow herself, which is impressive. The Comeback is significant in terms of Lisa Kudrow’s career because it was the first television show she starred in since Friends. However, it was cancelled after one season due to poor ratings despite following Entourage. Ultimately, it didn’t produce much more than a cult following. The majority of people probably have not even heard of this show. So, while this show had a lot of potential, it didn’t quite pan out even though it did actually return for a second season in 2014.
14. Cougar Town – Nothing Special
With a new name like Cougar Town, you know you can’t expect much. Actually, if we’re being honest, this show wasn’t a complete failure – it did manage to run for an entire six seasons, from 2009 to 2015. Season three even received critical acclaim, with TV Guide proclaiming it was “witty and wacky, this sharp-tongued, sweet-souled sitcom picks up without losing a (heart)beat.” A show about a woman in her 40s who is exploring the next chapter of her life after her divorce, the show considered changing the name because it wasn’t really a show about cougars anymore. In any case, overall, this show received mixed reviews from the critics over time, with one critic saying, “Cox is both a symbol and a red light warning for everything that is wrong with the Hollywood portrayal of middle-aged women, who are rarely wise or strong or naturally aged” and that she is “the female version of the pervert in a dirty raincoat.” While this certainly wasn’t an absolute flop for Courteney Cox, it wasn’t an overwhelming success, either, and critics bashed it.
13. LeBlanc’s Employment Gaps
You would think that one of television’s biggest stars, who played one of the most loved characters on Friends, wouldn’t have a lot of difficulty finding work. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for Matt LeBlanc, who has very a large career gap in his employment history. Indeed, his list of acting credits wouldn’t suggest that he once played a starring role in one of the most iconic television shows of all time. He took five years off (with the exception of doing a video short in that time) after his Friends spin-off flopped. He then went on to play himself in successful Episodes (pictured), so we will give credit where credit is due. Of course, he seems to take a more casual approach to acting anyway, saying, “This whole acting thing was always just for me and was always an absolute shot in the dark. If it didn’t pan out, I had my hammer and tool belt, banging nails again tomorrow if I had to.”
12. 17 Again – Perry’s First Film Lead
We are discussing 17 Again because it is Matthew Perry’s first (and only) mainstream, box-office type of movie since Friends ended, which took five years to happen. And it wasn’t particularly great, but you probably already know that. Just as the title would suggest, the movie is about a jaded man who gets the chance to live out his glory days as a 17-year-old after meeting with a janitor. The movie also stars Zac Efron. However, the film received mixed reviews with Rotten Tomatoes citing its “well-worn formula.” Indeed, this film is ultimately a forgettable one. You would probably agree with us given that the general consensus is fairly mediocre, only managing to muster up a 6.4 rating on IMDb. Perry hasn’t attempted returning to the big screen since then and doesn’t seem to have any plans to do so in the near future. This failure must have scarred him harder than we think.
11. Kudrow’s Quirky Film Roles
Lisa Kudrow has been quite busy since Friends officially ended, taking a shot at both television and film in that time. She has been in two critically acclaimed yet unheard of TV shows, The Comeback and Web Series, respectively. She has appeared in smaller roles in other successful shows like Bojack Horseman and Scandal. However, her foray into film has not been as successful. Similar to other cast members, Kudrow has not been able to carry a movie by herself. From Kabluey to Powder Blue to Paper Man to Bandslam, we rest our case. While she has appeared in bigger box-office movies like The Girl on the Train we can’t exactly give her credit since she was only part of the supporting cast. It would appear that Kudrow’s sweet spot is television, so she should stick with that.
10. Dirt – Cox’s TV Follow Up
While Matt LeBlanc had Joey and Lisa Kudrow had The Comeback as their first television debuts since Friends, Courteney Cox had FX’s Dirt, a show about a ruthless editor who tries to make it to the top. But due to poor ratings, the show was canned after two seasons, even though it was heavily marketed and given a competitive timeslot. Ultimately, the show did not stand up well against the critics, either, although the second season fared a little better than the first. Although this was a drastically different role from girl-next-door Monica Geller, everyone agreed that she did well in this new, more cutting role. But the show didn’t just get the ratings it needed to keep it on television screens.
9. Wanderlust – Abysmal Box Office
Jennifer Aniston has had the most box office success out of any of the cast members from Friends. She has also had the most flops. Next, we take a look at 2012’s Wanderlust, a film about a couple (played by Aniston and Friends supporting alum, Paul Rudd) who end up living on a hippie commune after they become unemployed. While this film had potential to satirize “hippie” culture, as well as move away from the tried-and-true rom-com, this film failed to do so. It tried too hard at being funny and missed the mark. While the film still managed to surprisingly receive positive reviews with Rotten Tomatoes claiming that “It isn’t always as funny as it should be, but Wanderlust benefits from an extremely talented cast and some of David Wain’s most confident, assured work behind the camera,” it was still a box-office failure, only bringing in $24 million with a $35 million budget.
8. Feed The Beast – Schwimmer’s TV Follow Up
Post Friends, David Schwimmer had some minor roles in successful television shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock or most recently The People v O.J. Simpson: An American Crime Story. He has done some directing, theatre and some voice acting in bigger movies like Madagascar. His career hasn’t been too terrible overall. But if we take a look at Feed the Beast, which is Schwimmer’s first attempt at starring in a television role, it turns out he can’t carry it at all.
Feed The Beast, which also starred Jim Sturgess, was a crime drama about two friends who decide to open up a restaurant together. General consensus over on IMDb gave the show a measly 6.8 with reviewers speaking about how difficult of a show it was to get through. It was cancelled after one season and received mixed reviews by the critics. Rotten Tomatoes said that, “visual appeal isn’t enough to make up for predictable plotting, convoluted dialogue and unlikable characters.” Hopefully things will start to look up again for Schwimmer…
7. Joey – The Failed Spin Off
Friends has been off the air for 12 years but Matt LeBlanc hasn’t done a lot in that time compared to some of his other cast members. LeBlanc also seems to have tried to cash in on his Friends success the most, beginning with a spin-off of the show the very same year Friends ended. The sitcom, entitled Joey, sees Joey Tribbiani make the move to Hollywood to try to make it big. While this show could have been good (and it did last two seasons and was nominated for a Golden Globe before it was cancelled due to poor ratings), the show didn’t quite pan out. There were a couple of problems with the show, including the poor characterization of Joey, as well as leaving it up to, well, Joey, to be able to carry an entire sitcom. Fun fact: its poor ratings were partially because people preferred to watch American Idol. Ouch.
Critically, the show did not hold up well either. Even LeBlanc admitted in 2015 that the show was always going to be a failure, saying, “It was doomed from the start. In Friends I was sharing a 22-minute episode with six other characters.” He went on to say that the scriptwriters also changed his character too much and he became a much more mopey version of himself, which was unlike the Joey on Friends. That said, if you’re still missing Friends, this show isn’t entirely unwatchable – a lot of people enjoyed it despite its flaws, so it may be worth a watch. It just might fill that spot in your heart, at least for a little while.
6. The Odd Couple – Perry’s Latest Flop
Matthew Perry hasn’t gone down the mainstream, box-office route like Jennifer Aniston has, he’s mostly stuck with television, and has managed to eke out a somewhat successful career. 2011’s Mr. Sunshine, a critically acclaimed show that Perry co-created, is an example. Everything was going (relatively) okay for Perry, until he decided that he had to remake the 1968 film The Odd Couple, and its 1970-75 sitcom. Perry stars alongside Thomas Lennon in a show about two unlikely roommates: Perry being a bit of a slob and Lennon, a neat freak. The show isn’t doing terribly, as it was just renewed for a third season, but overall it has received mixed reviews from the critics. Rotten Tomatoes criticized the “flat jokes” and “canned laughter”, while the public consensus on IMDb is that Perry has somehow forgotten to act and thinks he is in a play, not a sitcom. Some even went so far as to suggest that Perry looks like he is relapsing on screen, slurring and even shouting some of his lines. Overall, this doesn’t look like a win for Perry.
5. Mothers and Daughters – Cox’s Film Attempt
Courteney Cox has hit the big screen a few times over the years since Friends ended in 2004. 2016’s Mothers and Daughters, an indie film, is her most recent film after a long hiatus and if this is any indication as to how Cox’s film career is going to look in the future, well, it isn’t good. This one is a movie about a pregnant photographer, played by Selma Blair, as she films aspects of motherhood while contemplating her relationship with her own mother, who she hasn’t been in contact with. Unfortunately, however, it has an embarrassing 4.8 on IMDb, which is never a good look. The New York Times provides more insight into why this film was a flop, saying that “Mothers and Daughters is full of recognizable stars and heartfelt conversations. Unfortunately, it’s largely devoid of the kind of character development that can give such conversations real impact.” While The Washington Post said that “The ensemble drama’s 90 minutes are so overstuffed with stories and characters that there’s no need to get attached to any of them.” Perhaps Cox should stick with television.
4. Cake – Aniston’s Dramatic Film Attempt
2014’s Cake was supposed to be Jennifer Aniston’s foray into dramatic acting – you know, something other than the other million forgettable rom-coms she’s done year after year. The film sees Aniston’s character become obsessed with the suicide of a woman in her support group for those with chronic pain while she simultaneously confronts the own tragedy in her own life, which was the death of her son in a car accident. Now, let us first say that Aniston’s performance in this film actually saw her get nominated for multiple awards, including the Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe Award, meaning that Aniston showed some potential to move out of the rom-com and into something different. The film itself, however, didn’t do that well, receiving mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes said that the film “lack[ed] sufficient depth.” The general consensus is that people agreed with the critics as the film ended up with a mediocre 6.4 on IMDb. While not a spectacular fail, it was certainly not a win either, considering Aniston was trying to do something way different here.
3. Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip – Perry’s TV Follow Up
Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip was the first time Matthew Perry starred in a television show since Friends (he also had a brief stint on Scrubs before this). On Studio 60, Perry plays the role of Matt Albie in a look at the happenings of a sketch comedy, similar to that of Saturday Night Live, only in a fictionalized version. The show has also drawn parallels to Tina Fey’s 30 Rock. Nevertheless, although the show was expected to do very well and despite its potential, the show only aired for one season. Although critics spoke highly of the show, ratings quickly dropped shortly after the pilot, with Time eventually listing the show as one of “5 Things That Went From Buzz to Bust.” At this point, no one takes this show seriously and it has become a victim of mockery.
2. Derailed – Aniston’s Thriller Attempt
2005’s Derailed was Jennifer Aniston’s first shot at the big screen after Friends ended. Starring alongside Clive Owen, the film is about two business executives who have an affair and in the process end up being blackmailed by a criminal. As a surprise to no one who has watched Aniston’s career unfold, this didn’t pan out well. Indeed, it received negative reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a “rotten” rating, saying, “With miscast stars, a ludicrous plot and an obvious twist, Derailed embodies its name all too aptly.” The general crowd doesn’t seem to think much of the film either, given that it has a mediocre 6.6 on IMDb. Interestingly, Aniston has yet to attempt taking on a role in another serious thriller since this one, probably realizing her shortcoming.
1. The Bounty Hunter – A Witless Razzie Winner
2012’s The Bounty Hunter may just be Jennifer Aniston’s biggest failure ever. While we really aren’t expecting Aniston to be in any critical masterpieces, this one was particularly bad. Starring alongside Gerard Butler, the film is about the mishaps that ensue after a bounty hunter is forced to track down his ex-wife after she skipped bail. Mostly everyone would agree how much of a spectacular failure this film was, given its rather embarrassing rating of 5.5 on IMDb. The movie was also destroyed by the critics. Rotten Tomatoes said that “Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston remain as attractive as ever, but The Bounty Hunter’s formula script doesn’t know what to do with them — or the audience’s attention”, while The New York Times said that it was full of “witless sexual innuendo and witless violence.” The film was so terrible that it got itself nominated for a whopping four Razzies, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Actress and Worst Screenplay. We apologize if you shelled out to see this film.