Friends fans, rejoice! In her new book I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends, writer and super fan Kelsey Miller dives deep into the beloved ’90s sitcom, which — if you’ve just arrived on Earth — is about six 20-somethings working, dating, and hanging out in a coffee shop in New York City. Launching its actors into superstardom, Friends was a full-on phenomenon when it initially aired from 1994 to 2004. And thanks to the dual powers of syndication and streaming, it’s beloved today more than ever.
Through extensive research and thoughtful examination, Miller’s engaging retrospective explores Friends’ meteoric rise, and how and why it became known as the show for Generation X. She also interrogates common critiques of the show back then and today, like its lack of characters of color and its potentially problematic treatment of gay characters.
I’ll Be There For You is both a loving celebration of one of the most iconic television shows of all time, and a whip-smart piece of pop cultural criticism. And — maybe best of all — it’s packed with plenty of forgotten facts and anecdotes that will have you in first place at your local pub’s next Friends-themed trivia night.
Pre-order your copy today from your favorite bookseller (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Indiebound) and read on for 5 of our favorite takeaways from the book!
In an interview cited by Miller in the book, show creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane recalled pitching the show initially under the name Insomnia Café, after the coffee shop where the friends hung out. This was eventually changed to Friends Like Us, then Six of One, until finally the creators and network landed back on the sweet and simple Friends.
Miller digs up an old interview in which Kauffman and Crane recall how, in the development stages, network executives were concerned that the core cast of the show was too young. They urged the creators to add an older character who, as Miller writes, “could pop in every now and again to give some sage advise to these young folks.” To appease them, Kauffman and Crane wrote a draft including an older officer character they called Pat, playfully called “Pat the Cop” in the writer’s room. Thing is, they hated the concept so much they begged the network to let them scrap him. As a solve, the creators agreed to include more of the gang’s parents, or older guest-star appearances.
When you think of the iconic opening sequence to Friends, you think of the whole gang gleefully dancing in a fountain. As Miller found in an archival interview with the creators, that wasn’t the original concept. The title sequence was intended to be shot on a building rooftop during a party, as Miller puts it, “overlooking a section of Los Angeles that could sort of pass for New York.” But due to potentially inclement weather and the itinerant production costs, an alternative was needed. The creators found a little park on the lot that looked passably like New York, and had the idea to capture the cast having a silly, not-necessarily-realistic, but definitely fun time. As they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining!
Well, perhaps this is more of a universal truth than a forgotten fact, but the Rachel was everywhere for a long time. Though you might think that the haircut was just a ’90s thing, a study dug up by the author shows that the hairstyle was popular way into the aughts. Eleven million women in the UK, according to a 2010 study, reportedly got the Rachel in that year, and the style continued to be the most-requested hairstyle in the country.
Because Joey and Monica “seemed like the most sexual of the characters,” according to Kauffman, the creators saw them as a natural couple. But when Matt LeBlanc, the actor who plays Joey Tribbiani, broached the idea of Joey being a womanizer outside of the friend group — but acting more like a brother toward Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe, to keep him likable — that idea was discarded. (Well, until the late-series Rachel-Joey storyline, which we’re not even going to get into right now).
This article is sponsored by Harlequin’s I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends. Pre-order you copy today from your favorite bookseller Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Indiebound.