Friends is one of those shows that fans can watch over and over again without it ever getting old. It is up there with the likes of Seinfeld and The Office. It holds a place in people's hearts and has the potential to be the best sitcom that has ever aired on TV. So what makes it that way? The secrets. The secrets that many fans now know, years after the show ended. This is one of the main reasons that people still enjoy watching the series, as they can now watch these hidden secrets play out in their favorite episodes.
The cast of Friends have a lot of on-set secrets that didn't come up until after the final episode was done filming. The cast most likely waited until the end to avoid removing from the value of the show, and ultimately to avoid any potential drama. Now that it's been over a decade since the last episode aired, it is important to look back on the show for what it did right and the things that it tried to get away with. Take a look at the sets of your favorite coffee shop, apartment buildings, and many more, to see how people's favorite sitcom was created!
Many people have since been binging Friends over the past several years, especially since it is now available on Netflix. After reading through this list, go through and see if you can spot any of the strange things that they tried to keep hidden behind the scenes. Most notably, look out for the strange use of body doubles in later seasons and episodes.
20 The Cast Used Body Doubles
Television shows sometimes use this technique to fill in for actors who aren't there to filming for certain scenes. This becomes a more common practice for directors of long-lasting shows when the actors deal with real-life problems, such as pregnancy. These are easy workarounds and mostly directors get away with it. However, for some reason when it was used in these episodes in season 9, it's a wonder more people don't know about this strange mishap.
The two sit-ins are supposed to be for the characters Rachel and Monica, but the two sit-ins don't resemble the actors at all. The two scenes are taken from late season 9 and most likely went unnoticed because the scenes they stood in for were quick cuts. It is still interesting to see the behind the scenes of the way directors cut corners especially in shows like Friends. It makes us wonder what other TV sitcoms have obvious flaws, just like these episodes of Friends. It also makes us want to look through other episodes of Friends to see if there are any more obvious mishaps that we may have missed. What were the editors thinking when they let this slide from the cutting floor?
19 The Actors Who Were Almost Cast
It is hard to think of anyone else portraying and embodying the characters on Friends that we have come to love. However, there were several characters who almost had completely different actors portraying them. The character of Chandler was almost taken by Craig Bierko. In an interview with NBC's Executive VP of Prime-Time Programming, they said, "We kind of talked Craig Bierko out of being in Friends. Ultimately, he made his own decision, sort of. He took another pilot where he could be the lead and the only star."
Chandler wasn't the only character that was almost someone completely different. The character of Monica would have been the biggest change when NBC almost cast Nancy McKeon. They wanted Monica to have an attitude and be the mean one of the group. However, when Courtney Cox got the role she made it her own character by developing her into the Monica we now know. Interestingly enough, David Schwimmer was the only cast member who didn't have someone else almost take his role. However, this may be partly because the role was written specifically for him. Kathy Griffin almost filled the shoes of Phoebe, which would've made the character pretty different as well.
18 The Huddle To Hype Up Filming
There is no doubt that the cast of Friends are great friends in real life as well. Their charisma on the show definitely translates into their real lives (minus all of the ridiculous shenanigans). That is why the main cast of six developed a type of motivator to hype up the shoot that day. The six members would gather in a circle and huddle up like before a game of football. This would be a way to motivate every cast member to give it their all and it would end with "Have a good show".
This was very special to the six cast members, so much so that David Schwimmer, who played Ross, spoke about one of the most emotional parts of the show and stated that it was knowing there would be a day where they would huddle up one last time.
Here is his statement, "I started to lose it in this ritual that we had before the show, which is just a group hug, kind of get in a little circle, right before we come out. And that was the moment I was dreading for a long time because I knew that moment of just looking at everyone in their eyes, and saying ‘Have a good show,’ and knowing that was the last time we were going to be able to be in our little circle."
17 Was Chandler Gay?
The idea of Chandler not being with Monica seems pretty farfetched, however many people speculated and still speculate that Chandler may play for the other team. There are many small things that fans have picked up over the years, mainly when Chandler is with his best friend Joey. The director of information for GLAAD, Loren Javier, spoke on this conspiracy theory of sorts and had this to say, "Sure, there are all the little clues, the little in-jokes about his sexuality. And since the coming-out process is often a long one, it wouldn’t be insane for Chandler to realize he’s gay. Many gay people see Friends [which recently showcased the lesbian commitment ceremony of Ross’ ex-wife] as the kind of show something like that could happen on.”
A few other notable people spoke about Chandler's sexuality. Executive producer David Crane opened up and said that Chandler isn't gay and never has been. He also disregarded the idea of Chandler being bi-sexual saying, "It's not like he has a choice, he either is or isn't." Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe, also believed the character of Chandler was gay after reading the first few scripts. Perhaps Chandler is still hiding something all these years later.
16 The Original Ideas Were Way Different Than What We Know
It may seem strange to think that Friends was originally anything different than what we know and what we've watched countless times. There have been many changes to the script, especially the original ideas that they had for the show. The original synopsis for the Friends script read, "It's about love, relationships, careers, a time in your life when everything's possible. And it's about friendship because when you're single and in the city, your friends are your family."
Even though countless people were considered for each role and many of the more specific concepts changed, overall, the show didn't stray too far from their original idea. The show at its heart is about young adults getting out on their own and finding their way in a big city (New York City). The only solace they can find is with their friends, hence the name of the show. This concept was a constant theme in many of the episodes and is an overall great synopsis of the show's purpose. Looking back on the original ideas for Friends it is likely that the producers are happy with their final product.
15 Jennifer Aniston Wasn't A Huge Fan Of Her 90's Haircut
Friends invented several of the most popular trends that were in the 90's. A lot of fashion trends came from the show and more importantly hairstyles. One of the most famous hairstyles to come out of the show, was from the character Rachel. The producers gave the character Rachel short hair that went to her shoulders, complete with a mix of blond highlights in it. With Friends exploding in popularity, there is no denying that "The Rachel" was becoming one of the biggest and most popular hairstyles of the 90s. Despite beginning to show its age, the iconic hairstyle still remains very popular.
However, one particular person wasn't such a huge fan of it, with that being Jennifer Aniston, the one who originally made it so popular. In an interview in 2011, she spoke about the haircut and her distaste for it. She had this to say, "Looking back — honestly, even during that time — I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed [my hairstylist] Chris [McMillan] attached to my hip. Left to my own devices, I am not skilled with a hairbrush and blow dryer." Luckily she no longer has to worry about maintaining that hairstyle, even though she still has to see it most places she goes.
14 The Re-Cast For Carol
The character Ross can be credited for bringing many characters and new actors into the show Friends. This is because the writers wrote that Ross would have been divorced three different times before the shows end. Many fans don't know that the character of Carol (one of Ross' ex-wifes) changed actors halfway through. An actress by the name of Anita Barone was the first cast as Carol but soon grew dissatisfied with the role as it wasn't a constant character in the show. She soon quit and Jane Sibbett took over the role as Carol.
Anita Barone went on to find some other work in Hollywood but ultimately probably should have stuck with her role in Friends. Many fans would agree that Jane Sibbett made a better Carol because she embodied the character well and had decent charisma with Ross (David Schwimmer). Overall, Jane Sibbett only appeared in 15 episodes of Friends overall. Therefore, it is likely that Anita Barone would have been miserable continuing on for spotty work under Friends.
13 Friends Was Never Actually Filmed In New York
Despite Friends taking place in New York City, not once was the show ever filmed there. Instead, the entirety of the show was filmed in Burbank, California. The show eventually became such an icon, that their Burbank stage (stage 42) was renamed to the 'Friends Stage". Okay, but you're probably wondering, did they film in Las Vegas when the show took place there in season 5? Nope, it still took place on Stage 24 in Burbank, California.
Surely they had to have filmed off location when the show was taken to London in season 4, right? Well, that's the only exception, as the show took the characters and their actors to London to film part of a season. The creators said that due to a large fanbase in London, they wanted to represent them in a way. The creators also spoke about how they would rather film in the studio than on location, simply because of the live studio audience. The creators said, "We find that taking the show out of the studio makes it less funny, even when we shoot on the lot outside. The live audience is such an integral part of the show."
12 The 10th Season Almost Never Happened
Not many shows can compare to the fact that Friends lasted a whole 10 seasons. However, the tenth season almost never even happened. This was due to many of the show's creators struggling to figure out ideas for episodes for season 10, and actors worried about washing out while they were still on top of the world. Some creators voiced their concerns by saying, "It took us a while to get onboard with the idea of season 10. We had to really sort of examine what stories we have left to tell that would justify coming back. I'm glad we did because I really liked this season a lot. But you don't want to overstay your welcome."
Jennifer Aniston was the main driving force to preventing season 10. She had this to say when considering season 10, "I had a couple issues that I was dealing with, I wanted it to end when people still loved us and we were on a high. And then I was also feeling like, ‘How much more of Rachel do I have in me?'" These are legitimate concerns that wouldn't be surprising coming from any other cast member. For a show that stayed on for 10 seasons, the work was eventually bound to get bland, which could have potentially ruined the series for many fans.
11 The Joey + Monica Storyline
Now that we know how many changes Friends has seen over the years, there are several more secrets that didn't come out until after the show ended that may come as a surprise to many fans. When a show starts to gain traction, the writing team can come up with some strange things. It is a trial and error system. Most shows will try different concepts and see what finally sticks. One of the storylines for Friends that never made it out of the writing room was a Joey and Monica storyline. However, it was supposed to be more than just friends. The writers were actually planning for the couple to have a huge love story that would last several seasons.
The reason for this, is that the two characters were the most willing to be with one another. However, as the character of Monica grew through Courtney Cox, so did the writing for the show. Much like in reality, the development of Monica showed creators that she should fall for Chandler instead of Joey. The creators first spoke on realizing Monica's full potential after the first Thanksgiving episode where she showed her true colors.
I think we can all agree that we're pretty lucky that the Monica and Joey storyline never made it out of the writing room, as the show could have ended up completely different.
10 Everyone In The Cast Hated The Joey + Rachel Storyline
One of the worst moments in Friends is when Joey and Rachel pair up. Many were just confused as to why this combination of characters had to happen. It only happened for a short amount of time but it left it's impact of viewers. Matt LeBlanc (who played Joey) spoke out against the writers and even said at one point it was like dating his sister. He spoke in an interview about the storyline saying, "It felt wildly inappropriate. I was like, 'That’s Rachel. She’s supposed to be with Ross.' Everybody got super-defensive about the whole thing. We went to David and Marta as a group and said, 'We’re really concerned about this. It doesn’t feel right. We have a problem with it.'"
This grouping happened near the end of the show and it's obvious that the show writers were running low on ideas. This is likely what made people worried about the final few seasons of Friends getting signed on. It's obvious that the show creators regretted their decision to pair the two together, as it was responsible for causing many fans to stop watching the show.
9 Price For Each Actor Per Episode
A show like Friends only comes around once in a long time. Therefore when the show starts to get momentum it starts bringing in large amounts of revenue. This means that the actors are getting paid large amounts of money per episode. One of the biggest controversies to happen during the airing and producing of Friends, was the fact of equal pay. Before season three different actors were getting different amounts of pay ranging from $20,000 to $40,000. This didn't fly with the Friends cast because they all felt that each character made the show what it was, so they should all be paid equally for contributing to the show.
The equal pay agreement eventually went through, which was unheard of for a network working with its actors directly. That just goes to show how much of a powerhouse Friends actually was. The contract was definitely worth it for the actors to risk their jobs, because by the later seasons the actors were earning up to a million dollars per episode. This is much better than their measly $20,000 per episode during its early seasons. This paved the way for several companies to demand equal pay for its actors, but none quite had the impact like Friends.
8 The Seinfeld Influence
Any great sitcom came after Seinfeld will always be compared to the iconic show. Many people say that Seinfeld will always be the best sitcom because of its genius writing. However, many fans of both Friends and Seinfeld started to see similarities between the two. Seinfeld was a driving force for pushing 90's sitcoms out into the limelight. It was a show about nothing, yet it showed massive popularity. Therefore when shows like Friends came along they took massive inspiration from Seinfeld to do whatever their hearts wanted.
It's known knowledge that the creators of Friends went over episodes of Seinfeld to gain inspiration for their own show. They looked over things like the writing style of the dialogue between characters and different shooting styles. Everything that made Seinfeld a great sitcom, the Friends team wanted to do the same. Looking over Seinfeld also inspired the creators of Friends to hire younger people, some saying, "When you're 40, you can't do it anymore. The networks and studios are looking for young people coming in out of college." After the conception of Friends, the popularity of sitcoms of this calibre began to rise and some sitcoms haven't even come close to trumping these titans.
7 Monica And Pheobe Were Actually Pregnant
Friends was known to use their actor's real life ailments within the show, such as using pregnancies and injuries to the shows advantage. The writers would write small or large subplots for whatever the actor was dealing with. During Lisa Kudrow's pregnancy, they wrote a subplot about Phoebe being a surrogate for her brother. However, they ran into a problem when Courtney Cox became pregnant during a storyline where Monica (Courtney Cox's character) couldn't get pregnant. Therefore they were careful at hiding Courtney Cox's pregnancy during the filming of those seasons.
During a filming of an episode, we see Joey jumping up and down on a bed, eventually falling off and injuring his shoulder. Little did Matt LeBlanc know, when he fell he had actually injured his shoulder. He spoke about this irony and said, "I remember, as Joey jumping on the bed. Yeah, but get this... the audience was full of Diet Coke contest winners flown in from all over the country, and I did two scenes, popped my shoulder, and they had to cancel it. So they all got flown home and then flown back for another week. So it cost Coca-Cola a lot more than they anticipated. What are you going to do?"
6 The Live Audience Never Knew When Janice Would Show Up
The character Janice was not only a fan favorite, but she was also a favorite amongst the writers of the show. They would bring her out when the show needed cheap laughs and she always played great comic relief. However, out of almost all the times that Janice had showed up, the live audience never be told, making it the perfect surprise. This is why the live audience would always sound generally surprised by her appearance.
In an interview back in 2016, Maggie Wheeler spoke about how hard it was to keep quiet on set saying, "I could barely come down to get a doughnut. I had to stay in my dressing room until the last moment and then they'd secretly move me from behind the set to the right spot and they'd keep a black screen so the audience couldn't see me until I made my first entrance. I will never have anything like that again. It was incredible." This is just one of the examples of the charm that Friends had, and the extra steps the producers would take to make it a more enjoyable experience for the audiences.
5 Monica And Chandler's Storyline Almost Happened Way Earlier
Many fans would agree that the best thing to happen to Friends was the addition of the Chandler and Monica love storyline. The two characters fit perfectly together and the two actors had crazy good charisma. The idea for grouping Chandler and Monica together came around very early on in the life of Friends. After discovering that the two had great charisma when they worked together during Seasons 1 and 2, it was obvious to the writers that they wanted them to be together. One of the show's creators had this to say about the grouping, "I just feel like at this point it would feel a little desperate. We had gotten excited about the stories we could tell, but once she said that, we were all shamed and ran away. It became clear it was too early to explore something like that […] There was a little bit of relationship ennui among us writers. We’d already done a lot of drama between Ross and Rachel. And nobody wanted it to become the ‘Get Together and Break-Up’ show."
The decision early on to group Chandler and Monica together made it easier for the writers to develop and grow the characters. Overall, it was probably a good thing that they didn't try to force Monica and Chandler to be a thing too early on because it wouldn't have felt as natural.
4 Matt LeBlanc (Joey) Didn't Like The Script
The character of Joey was perfected by Matt LeBlanc's outstanding performance, made Joey into the character that we all love and know. If it wasn't for Matt LeBlanc, Joey may have been a very different character than what we know him as. When Matt LeBlanc auditioned for the part he made the writers realize that the character of Joey had a lot more potential than what was already written for him. One of the producers, David Crane, spoke and said that they didn't see the potential of Joey being a major source of comedy for the show.
Other producers said that Matt LeBlanc brought heart to the character and really brought Joey to life. They also appreciated that Matt LeBlanc was honest with them about the original script for Joey. After being hired after auditions, Matt LeBlanc came out and said that the script for Joey didn't work that well and wanted the writers to know his opinions on the character. Without Matt LeBlanc stepping forward to give his opinion on the character, we may not have the Joey we know today. It is worth noting that Matt LeBlanc was one of the first people who auditioned for the part because he was recommended by the network.
3 Matthew Perry Forgot Filming At Least Three Seasons
Matthew Perry may have been the one who changed the most physically throughout the series. This wasn't done on purpose, but instead was due to a number of reasons in Perry's personal life. It is common knowledge that Matthew Perry had a problem with substance abuse for at least three years during the filming of Friends. After some time had passed after Friends ended, Matthew Perry opened up and discussed the fact that he didn't remember being on the show from season 3 to season 6.
Matthew Perry openly spoke about his addiction later after the show ended, he said, "I had a big problem with [substance abuse] and I couldn’t stop. Eventually, things got so bad that I couldn’t hide it, and then everybody knew....I’m a pretty private person, but I was on a TV show that 30 million people were watching, so people knew. It was so public what was happening to me.” Since getting clean, Matthew Perry has remained sober ever since, and has even turned his mansion into a place to help people become sober. Surprisingly besides physical appearance, Matthew Perry's addiction didn't have a huge impact on the filming of Friends.
2 Matt LeBlanc Only Had $11 Before Becoming Joey On Friends
Matt LeBlanc may be a multimillionaire actor at this point in his life but originally he only had $11 in his pocket before joining Friends. Matt LeBlanc had quite a change in his life when he was hired to play Joey. Matt LeBlanc spoke on this subject and said, "When it came my way, it was my fourth TV series - and the other three had failed. I had exactly $11 in my pocket the day I was hired. I had to go back and read for the part of Joey a total of six times. It was far from certain I would get the role."
Matt LeBlanc put all his eggs in the acting basket. When he was only 17 he decided to move to New York City to pursue his dream of acting. He's spoken about this several times before, saying at some points he was sleeping in some of the worst hotels imaginable. He was almost homeless at certain points of his life as well. Luckily before that happened though, he landed his role as Joey on Friends. Since then, Matt LeBlanc can be noticed from anywhere and even has a new sitcom right now. It seems like Matt LeBlanc fulfilled his lifelong dream.
1 Most Jokes Were Improvised
The filming for a Friends episode wasn't like many other shows or sitcoms. Filming took almost double the time of a typical film day, lasting up to six hours. This was because the writers were trying to better write the scripts for landing jokes and seeing scenes happen in front of their eyes. Matt LeBlanc had something to say about this style of shooting when he said, "On show night we'll do the first pass of a scene, and if something doesn't pop really great, they'll all huddle together and they really rack their brains and take as much time as it takes to come up with something that scores better or that makes more sense or that's clearer or drives the story better. You know what I mean? They're tireless. And they're great. And they're passionate about what they do, and it makes our jobs, the actors', incredibly easier."
This is risky for writers and producers to do because last-minute changes could ruin the flow of the episodes for any storylines that they're working on. This is why most jokes were written last minute to better flow the scenes and connect them together. An integral part of filming Friends, or any sitcom for that matter, is to connect laugh tracks to make scenes flow as best as they can.
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