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A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Friends, published for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show's premiere. Howyoudoin’?
In September 1994, six friends sat down in their favorite coffee shop and began bantering about sex, relationships, jobs, and just about everything else. A quarter of a century later, new fans are still finding their way into the lives of Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe, and thanks to the show’s immensely talented creators, its intimate understanding of its youthful audience, and its reign during network television’s last moment of dominance, Friends has become the most influential and beloved show of its era. Friends has never gone on a break, and this is the story of how it all happened.
Noted pop culture historian Saul Austerlitz utilizes exclusive interviews with creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, executive producer Kevin Bright, director James Burrows, and many other producers, writers, and cast members to tell the story of Friends’ creation, its remarkable decade-long run, and its astonishing Netflix-fueled afterlife. Readers will go behind the scenes to hear from the people who were present as the show was developed and cast, written and filmed. There will be talk of trivia contests, prom videos, trips to London, Super Bowls, lesbian weddings, wildly popular hairstyles, superstar cameos, mad dashes to the airport, and million-dollar contracts. They’ll also discover surprising details—that Monica and Joey were the show’s original romantic couple, how Danielle Steel probably saved Jennifer Aniston’s career, and why Friends is still so popular that if it was a new show, its over-the-air broadcast reruns would be the ninth-highest-rated program on TV.
The show that defined the 1990s has a legacy that has endured beyond wildest expectations. And in this hilarious, informative, and entertaining book, readers will now understand why.
The sitcom Friends premiered in 1994 to huge success, and 25 years later, according to this entertaining but shallow guide, it remains culturally ubiquitous, with teenagers around the world having "discovered Friends and believed it to be their own." Austerlitz (Just a Shot Away) begins by explaining how playwrights David Crane and Marta Kauffman crafted an ensemble comedy to recreate the New York social scene they missed after moving to Hollywood. Austerlitz presents many surprising almost-happened stories such as casting Craig Bierko from The Long Kiss Goodnight as Chandler and comedian Janeane Garofalo as Monica. In straightforward prose, Austerlitz writes of how the cast members bonded, such as in 1996, when David Schwimmer, "the show's first breakout star," told the others that "we should all go in together" to equally renegotiate their contracts. The narrative loses momentum, however, once the show gets off the ground, with revealing behind-the-scenes tidbits giving way to baggy analysis in which Austerlitz's fandom dulls the writing ("Watching a new episode was like coming home"). Austerlitz nods to less celebratory moments, such as Amaani Lyle's lawsuit claiming the writers' room was a hostile work environment, but never digs deep. Though packing his narrative with fun details, Austerlitz misses the opportunity to fully explore why the show continues to appeal to new audiences.