The Monday Morning Quarterback

Could This BE About Friends?

My upcoming week in New York has got me thinking about all the preconceptions I have about the world’s most exciting city. So much of what I expect the city to be like comes from movies as diverse as On the Town, Taxi Driver, Woody Allen’s gorgeous love songs to the island, Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters, and TV shows like NYPD Blue and Sex and the City.

But more than all those movies and shows, there’s really a single TV show that defined New York City to me. It was a little show called Friends. I expect New York City to be like that.

I know, Friends was shot entirely on a Hollywood soundstage, not New York. And yet, I always had the feeling that the show was just like being there, if “there” centered around a neighborhood coffeehouse where, indeed, nobody ever knew your name and the sofa was always empty (except that one time).

The producers of Friends described their show as being about “sex, 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.” But I think the show was about New York City, too.

It’s been 8 years since Friends ended its ten year reign with an emotional and massively promoted send-off. The half-hour sitcom debuted in 1994 and was never out of the top 10 in all ten of its seasons. Today, with episodes remastered in high-definition, Friends may be one of the most programmed syndicated half hour comedies on TV.

So, in celebration of my upcoming Manhattan vacation, here is some Friends TV trivia – items I’ve witnessed or collected through the years. Friends was a universal kind of experience for a generation, so see what you remember, and what is new to you about this one-time “Must-See TV” show.

Oh, by the way, if you have any hints about exploring New York, from sights and sounds to great restaurants, be sure to let me know!

  • A post-Super Bowl episode of Friends was watched by 52.9 million viewers.
  • Ellen DeGeneres was originally offered the role of Phoebe.
  • The golden frame around the peephole was originally a mirror that was accidentally broken by the crew. Because it still looked good, it was decided to leave it.
  • Because of a sports bet Bruce Willis lost to Matthew Perry on the set of The Whole Nine Yards, Willis appeared in a two-episode guest role for free.
  • Joey had seven sisters: Veronica, Mary Angela, Mary Theresa, Gina, Dina, Tina and Cookie.
  • In the first several episodes, Chandler and Joey’s apartment is #4 and Monica and Rachel’s apartment is #5. Perhaps recognizing these numbers would put them on the ground floor, producers changed the apartment numbers to 19 and 20, putting them higher in the building.
  • Although both apartments have visible mechanical doorbells installed, they were never used. People always knocked.
  • The opening credit sequence in which the stars dance in a fountain was shot on the Warner Bros. Ranch lot in Los Angeles.
  • Famously, all the cast made the same money per episode. They started out making $22,500 per episode and ending up making $2-million per episode.
  • The refrigerators in the apartments actually worked.
  • Gunther didn’t have a name until the middle of the second season. The actor who played him was the only extra who knew how to use the cappuccino machine.
  • Courteney Cox is the only cast member to never receive an Emmy nomination during the run of the show. Despite starring in two other series since, she has yet to receive an Emmy nomination.
  • Chandler’s father’s Las Vegas burlesque show was named Viva Las Gaygas.
  • The cast has names identical to characters on the ABC soap All My Children.
  • Though he played her older brother, David Schwimmer is younger than Courteney Cox.
  • After appearing on the show, Sean Penn won two Academy Awards.
  • Other celebrity guests included Charlton Heston, Charlie Sheen, Tom Selleck, Susan Sarandon, Billy Crystal, Gary Oldman, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Robin Williams, Dakota Fanning, Brad Pitt, Ben Stiller, Paul Rudd and George Clooney.
  • The number of times anyone locked or unlocked their front door: two.
  • Phoebe says Joey’s PIN number is 5639. 5639 spells out “Joey”.
  • The first line of dialogue in the pilot episode was “There’s nothing to tell.”
  • Joey first uttered “How you doin’?” in the middle of the fourth season.
  • Jennifer Aniston’s razor-cut hairstyle was nicknamed The Rachel when it was copied and applied to the heads of millions of women.
  • The opening credits song, I’ll Be There For You may be the last TV theme to enter the Top 100 Billboard chart due to the apparent demise of opening credit theme songs.
  • Courteney Cox made her debut in the Bruce Springsteen Dancing in the Dark video, which is deeply disliked by Springsteen fans, but fondly remembered by MTV viewers.
  • Lyrics to Phoebe’s song, Crazy Underwear: “Crazy underwear, creeping up my butt. Crazy underwear, always in a rut.”

– Art Reker, Account and Creative Executive