Ever since Friends went off the air, a reunion has been teased, talked and speculated about.
It’s an interesting thought. How would the quintessential 90s (and ok, noughties) buddies be doing in 2019?
It may well never happen, but I wanted to get my foot in the door just in case. I emailed the following pitches to NBC, which were insta-rejected as soon as I pressed “send”.
The One With 9/11
Despite living in New York before, during and after September 11th 2001, the friends never acknowledged the seismic, world-changing terrorist attack the occurred right in their back yard.
In this episode, that changes when Joey — back in New York after his spin-off failure, and once again a mostly out of work actor — loses his job as a tour guide due to his lack of knowledge about 9/11. This revelation leads his friends to wonder what else they don’t know about the city (including: rampant poverty, a housing crisis and the existence of people of colour).
The One Where Phoebe is a Millionaire
In a post-Goop world, Phoebe’s hippy-dippy magic crystal loving ways make her a rich snake oil saleswoman via the fake wellness industry. She has a popular Instagram account, YouTube channel and soon-to-be Netflix show. Joey angles for a part on the show. Phoebe gives in and gives him a role as a presenter, but his inability to remember his lines causes the show to flop. Phoebe loses millions but gains it back when clips of Joey’s flubs go viral.
The One Where Joey Gets #MeToo’d
After years on Days Of Our Lives and bit parts in various films and TV shows like Mac 'n' Cheese, there’s almost no way that Joey didn’t act inappropriately with some of his female colleagues back in the 90s (remember that flashback episode where Monica — a woman he just met — asks if he wants lemonade and his response is to strip naked and flex?).
In 2019, Joey gets his own #MeToo reckoning and is blackballed from the entertainment industry. Luckily, he notices no real difference in his moribund career. All the friends stick by him, bemoaning the political correctness of society today.
The One With Chandler’s Secret Eating
Being married to a chef has its perks, but Monica’s insistence on home cooking every meal means that eating out, takeout and especially fast food are off the menu for the Bing family.
Craving something less refined than his wife’s food, Chandler starts making regular after-work stops at a local fast food place, where he wolfs down three greasy burgers while sat crying in his car. When Monica notices the combination of drastic weight gain plus a loss of appetite at home, she confronts him and he confesses all.
Chandler suggests a compromise — a non-home cooked meal once a week — but instead Monica uses her influence online (she has been gaining traction as an influencer with a combined lifestyle, food and mommy blog) to boycott the fast food restaurant and eventually get it to shut down.
“I only control you because I love you,” she says as the studio audience laugh. Chandler mugs desperately at the camera.
The One Where Ben Outshines Ross
Ross, still married to a beaten-down Rachel — who takes care of their children (they had two more after Emma so Ross could, in his words, “lock down” Rachel) in near-silence while she prays for death — has to deal with jealousy when his son Ben, now in his 20s, becomes a bitcoin millionaire. Ross, angry that he’s not the smartest or richest person in his family, does everything he can to bankrupt his own son in the name of teaching Ben “a lesson”.
The joke is on him when, out of money, the smug vaping Ben comes to live with Ross, constantly reminding him that “I lost more money in a month than you’ll ever earn" and making fun of him for still thinking Facebook is “cool”.
The One Without Central Perk
The gang returns to their iconic old haunt to find that it has closed down, turned into an uninspired chain restaurant. A homeless Gunther sleeps outside, but the gang fail to notice him.
Monica, desperate to become a chef again after the failure of many home-based cooking businesses, gets a job there but soon loses it due to her highly-strung control freakery and attempts to change the menu.
Meanwhile, the rest of the friends discover that their old apartments have been subdivided and Monica’s old place now houses 17 working families.
The One Where Chandler Discovers Twitter
Chandler, frustrated by his stifling, still-a-mystery office job finds an outlet for his humour when he discovers Twitter.
He still annoys the other friends with his jokes but makes it worse by punctuating them with “that’ll make a great Tweet” and giving them a running commentary on every like and retweet gained.
Things come to a head when Monica, in one of her trademark manic rages, cuts off their internet. Chandler misses an email with a job offer from a big company to become their social media manager. Though he initially resents her, they make up when a controlling Monica convinces Chandler he doesn’t want that job anyway.
The One Where Rachel Breaks Free
After Ross is once again placed on sabbatical from his lecturing job due to inappropriate behaviour towards female students, Rachel takes the opportunity to open a small boutique fashion store. The store takes off and Emma — who had long since left the family home due to Ross' overbearing behaviour — convinces her to use the money to take their younger kids and leave Ross.
Naturally, Ross challenges her for custody but loses — his history of infidelity, inappropriate behaviour at work and anger issues counting against him. “Looks like Ross is on a break — from seeing his kids!” says Phoebe on hearing the news, and everyone but Ross laughs.